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Madam President

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It was the day after President Amidala’s inauguration, and she was already overwhelmed. She’d woken up at the crack of dawn and eaten a quick breakfast before being briefed by her personal secretary, Sabé, on the schedule for the day. And ever since then, it had been a nonstop flow of people in and out of her office, politicians and staff members alike who wanted to stop by and introduce themselves to the new president of the United States.

Around noon, Padmé sighed and consulted the schedule on her phone. “Is it time for lunch yet?” Vice President Bail Organa asked wryly.

Padmé chuckled and shook her head. “No, next up is a meeting with the White House security team. But lunch is after that.”

“Wonderful. I haven’t seen Breha since this morning.”

“She was awake that early?” Padmé said in surprise.

“No, I meant I saw her this morning. I haven’t spoken to her since last night,” Bail clarified, and they both laughed.

The door opened again and in trooped a crowd of people wearing dark suits; some had visible earpieces and Padmé assumed that the rest still did have concealed earpieces somewhere on them. Really, the only thing that was missing was the sunglasses, though to be fair they were inside at the moment.

“Madam President, Mr. Vice President,” said the man in the front of the crowd, whom Padmé recognized as Mace Windu, the head of the White House secret service (they’d met before just after she was elected). “How are you this morning?”

“Very well, thank you, Agent Windu,” Padmé said as Bail murmured his agreement. She looked over at the others. “These must be our new security details?” Both she and Bail had had some protective agents during the campaign and after the election, but Mace had said those teams were only temporary and they’d be getting new permanent ones on their first full day in office.

“Yes, ma’am,” Mace said, beckoning half the agents forward. “This is your detail, Madam President.” He began introducing them, and each agent nodded respectfully at her when their name was called. “Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, Aayla Secura, Plo Koon, Luminara Unduli, Barriss Offee, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Shaak Ti, Kit Fisto, and Quinlan Vos. Most or all of them will be with you during major events, but on a regular day you’ll only have two of them at a time. Here’s their rotation schedule.”

Mace passed her a piece of paper, and as she perused it, Padmé saw that the agents had been divided into teams of two and that each team’s shift times appeared to vary from week to week. But there was one name that stuck out. “The head of your team is Anakin Skywalker,” Mace said just as Padmé noticed that Anakin Skywalker was the only agent who had neither a partner nor specific hours; the start time of his shifts was marked as whenever Padmé got up in the morning and the end as whenever she went to bed at night, with lunch and dinner breaks whenever she ate.

She looked up and saw one of the agents stepping forward, a young man whom she assumed to be Anakin Skywalker. Her first thought was that, though he looked older than one or two of the other agents, he was much younger than she would’ve expected for the agent heading her team; he might’ve even been younger than her. But then Padmé realized that while her youth was often seen as a detriment in her line of work since many thought it signaled inexperience, Anakin’s was probably a benefit because it went hand-in-hand with agility, which secret service agents certainly needed.

Her second thought was that he was quite handsome: tall, broad-shouldered, muscular yet slender, tousled sandy hair, and blue eyes. By his right eye there was a thin scar that somehow only enhanced his good looks. Anakin inclined his head and gave her a small smile, which made Padmé’s heart do an odd sort of flip-flop. She smiled back before quickly returning her attention to Mace and silently scolding herself. She was the president of the United States, dammit, she was above getting distracted by a pretty face.

“He’ll be with you at all times every day during the day, except for his days off in which case Kenobi will take his place. Skywalker hasn’t been here as long as some of the others, but he’s one of the best we have,” Mace added in a voice of grudging approval. Padmé got the impression that his approval was always grudging. “You’ll be in very good hands with him, ma’am.”

Anakin, meanwhile, actually blushed at the praise and looked like he was trying (rather unsuccessfully) to suppress a proud smile. Padmé found it startlingly endearing; it was quite the opposite of the stoicism she would’ve expected from the secret service and which Mace seemed to embody so thoroughly.

Mace hashed out a few more details with her before moving on to introduce Bail to his security team, which was headed by Qui-Gon Jinn. They all left once everything was settled, though Padmé consulted the schedule again and saw that Agents Secura and Koon (and Skywalker, of course) were going to be with her for the rest of the afternoon before Agents Kenobi and Tano took over from them in the evening.

The rest of the day passed in a whirlwind of activity and before Padmé knew it, it was past eleven and she was heading back to her bedroom at last. During the walk upstairs, she realized it was practically the first time all day she’d been alone with her new security team; she’d hardly spoken to any of them yet. She looked over at Anakin and said, “So, you’ll be with me at all times, Agent Skywalker?”

He nodded. “Yes, ma’am. Like glue.”

Padmé looked blankly at him. “What?”

“Oh, that’s just what Mace—um, Agent Windu said,” Anakin hastened to explain, looking a little embarrassed. “He said my job is to stick to you like glue, ma’am.”

A small part of Padmé’s brain whispered that spending the next four years with this incredibly attractive man stuck to her like glue would definitely not be the worst thing in the world, but she quickly silenced it. “Right. Well, in that case, I’d like to start getting to know you a little, if that’s all right. And you, too,” she added to Obi-Wan and Ahsoka.

They all gave her puzzled looks. “Ma’am?” said Anakin.

“Well, if you’re going to be stuck to me like glue for four years, surely it would be better for both of us if we were friends,” Padmé said, smiling at him. “And you probably already know a lot about me, so…I don’t know, tell me a little bit about yourself.”

“Oh.” Anakin bit his lip, then said uncertainly, “Well, the thing is—I mean, with all due respect, ma’am, we aren’t really supposed to…”

“To what?”

“To…talk to you, ma’am,” he said, sounding apologetic. “We’re supposed to fade into the background. You’re not supposed to even notice we’re there. Mace says any conversation with you shouldn’t last more than five seconds, ma’am. We don’t want to distract you from your work.”

As she listened to Anakin’s nervous explanation, Padmé felt rather foolish for offering friendship to someone who clearly saw her as no more than a job…but on the other hand, she was indignant that he (and Mace) assumed she’d be so uppity as to not want to bother getting to know her own staff. “Well, Agent Windu may think that a conversation longer than five seconds would distract me, but I assure you I’d very much like to get the chance to talk to you, all of you, for more than five seconds,” Padmé said calmly. “Unless that would make you uncomfortable, in which case, by all means, I give you permission to ‘fade into the background’ rather than interacting with me.”

Obi-Wan looked scandalized, but Anakin and Ahsoka were both smiling at her, albeit a little tentatively. “Really, ma’am?” Ahsoka said. “You actually want to get to know us?”

“Of course I do,” Padmé said, smiling back. “I’m trusting you with my life, so I’d like to know more about you than just your names. But again, if you really think you’d get into trouble with Agent Windu…well, he’s much scarier than I am, isn’t he?”

Anakin and Ahsoka laughed, and even Obi-Wan seemed to be suppressing a smile, though a moment later he said, “All the same, ma’am, I’m not entirely sure that would be appropriate.”

“Oh, come on. Surely it would be perfectly appropriate for me to at least know where you’re from, for example.”

“England, ma’am, but I’ve been living in the U.S. since college and am now a citizen,” Obi-Wan replied promptly.

Padmé smiled. “See? That wasn’t so hard, and now I know something about you that I didn’t know before.”

Yes, he was definitely trying not to smile now. “I suppose so, ma’am.”

“What about you, Ahsoka, where are you from?” Padmé asked next. “Oh, would you rather I call you Agent Tano? I’m sorry, there’s just so many protocol-related things I’ve been learning all day and trying to wrap my head around.”

“Ahsoka and Agent Tano are both fine, ma’am. Whichever you’d prefer,” Ahsoka said cheerfully. “I’m from San Francisco, but I live in DC now, obviously.”

Padmé chuckled along with her before turning to Anakin. “And you, Agent Skywalker?”

“Arizona, ma’am, but now I live upstairs,” he replied. “And you can call me either Agent Skywalker or Anakin if you’d like.”

“You live upstairs?” Padmé said, surprised. She’d thought she was the only one who permanently resided at the White House.

Anakin nodded. “Yes, ma’am. The other agents all live in the city, but I live here since I’m your number one,” he said with no small amount of pride. “They want me on hand at all times just in case.”

Interesting. Not that Padmé cared that he’d be living only one floor above her for the next four years. “That must make commuting to work much easier,” she said, and the others laughed.

By then they’d arrived at Padmé’s room; Obi-Wan and Ahsoka stationed themselves at either end of the corridor outside, but Anakin made as if to follow her in. Catching her startled look, he quickly said, “Sorry, ma’am, but I have to come in with you for a few minutes every night just to check that the area’s secure.”

“Ah. You mean, to check that there isn’t an assassin hiding under my bed?” Padmé said wryly.

Belatedly, she realized any of her bodyguards would probably be less than amused by her flippant attitude towards her own safety, but Anakin just gave her an easy grin and said, “Exactly, ma’am. You can never be too careful.”

Padmé wasn’t entirely sure what to do with herself in the meantime, so she ended up just waiting in the middle of the room as Anakin went through her bedroom and the connecting dressing room and bathroom. “Everything’s all clear, ma’am,” he said at last, coming back into the bedroom.

“Great, thank you,” Padmé said. “Is your shift officially over now, then?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Well, I’ll try my best not to be out and about too late in the future if that means I’ll be keeping you from your bed in addition to myself.”

Anakin chuckled. “I’d appreciate that very much, ma’am, although I’m not sure you’ll be able to help it most days.”

“Very true,” Padmé said with a sigh. “I guess I’ll be seeing you bright and early tomorrow.”

“Yes, ma’am. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Agent Skywalker. Anakin,” she corrected herself after a moment; addressing her security team by their first names rather than agent felt better, more personal. “You’re sure I can call you Anakin?”

“You can call me anything you’d like, ma’am,” he replied.

“Huh. Let’s start with Anakin, but I’ll let you know if I think of anything better.”

Anakin laughed again, and Padmé’s stomach may or may not have squirmed pleasantly. “That sounds good to me. Goodnight, ma’am,” he repeated before heading out the door.


Anakin had barely shut the door behind him when he heard Ahsoka saying excitedly, “So, what do you think of her?”

He turned around and saw Obi-Wan frowning at her. “Ahsoka, you can’t gossip about the president behind her back,” he chided.

“I’m not gossiping, I’m just asking a question to my friend who is no longer on duty,” she said innocently. “Well, Skyguy?”

“She’s…” Anakin paused and considered the question. Ahsoka had no basis of comparison since this was her first time on presidential protection detail, but Anakin, Obi-Wan, and several of President Amidala’s other bodyguards had also served President Valorum, her predecessor. Valorum had been a nice enough man, but he’d rarely paid much attention to his bodyguards—which was, technically, the way it was supposed to be…and yet Anakin hadn’t been able to help the warm fuzzy feeling in his chest when President Amidala had insisted upon getting to know each of them. And when she had addressed him by name rather than as merely “Agent Skywalker.” “She’s…not what I expected,” he finished at last. “But in a good way, I think.”

As Anakin went upstairs to his bedroom and showered and got ready for bed, he found himself unable to get the president out of his mind. She was startlingly beautiful; really, she looked more like an actress or a model than a politician. Anakin had always privately thought she was pretty whenever he’d seen her televised speeches and public appearances during the long months of election season, but actually meeting her in person, looking at her up close and hearing her lilting voice and seeing her smile…

No, she wasn’t what Anakin had been expecting at all.

Chapter Text

Over the next few weeks, Padmé managed to elicit tidbits of personal information from everyone on her security team until she was satisfied that she knew at least the most basic things about them all. Some (like Anakin and Ahsoka) were more eager to chat than others, but even so, all of them seemed gratified that Padmé was actually interested in getting to know them. Once again, she couldn’t help but be struck by that; had they truly thought she’d be capable of spending every day of the next four years with them without ever caring enough to spare them a second glance?

But on the other hand, she was extraordinarily busy. Every single day was a constant barrage of meetings, paperwork, and headaches, especially since in addition to just getting adjusted to her new role as president, Padmé also had to work on her budget request for the upcoming fiscal year. At last the budget was done and submitted, which meant that within a few weeks she’d have to face the moment she’d been dreading since her election: her first meeting with the Senate Finance Committee, which was chaired by none other than Sheev Palpatine, senator from New York and Padmé’s opponent in the presidential race.

Padmé had taken an immediate disliking to Palpatine when she first became a senator, and that initial dislike had only increased over the years. She disagreed with him on practically every issue imaginable, and as if that wasn’t enough, he was clearly the type of selfish, corrupt politician Padmé had always despised. Perhaps it was her relative youth that gave her such idealism—she’d been elected senator just after she turned thirty—but Padmé had been dismayed upon entering Congress to discover just how many of the other senators and representatives were like Palpatine, speaking about underprivileged Americans as if they were a trifling nuisance while they themselves indulged in every kind of luxury their wealth could afford.

Being chair of the Finance Committee gave Palpatine much more power than Padmé felt comfortable with him having, and she prayed she’d be able to prevent some of his more damaging budget cuts. Not to mention she knew his resentment of her would be a hundred times stronger now that she’d beaten him in the election. In his concession speech he’d said all sorts of diplomatic things about how capable Padmé was and how certain he was that she’d do a wonderful job, but she’d seen in his eyes that he was furious. And now she was going to have to come face-to-face with him for the first time since the election.

Padmé could hardly remember dreading anything more.


Anakin thought President Amidala seemed unusually tense the morning of her meeting with the Finance Committee, but as he followed her into the meeting room, he saw Senator Palpatine sitting at the table and realized that of course she’d be worried about seeing him again so soon after the election. It had been one of the most brutal election seasons in Anakin’s memory; Palpatine had used every dirty trick in the book to try to discredit President Amidala, though as far as Anakin could tell she’d never done anything wrong in her entire life, so Palpatine hadn’t had a whole lot of success with that. Still, he was sure bad feelings probably lingered on both sides, and his instincts told him to watch Palpatine like a hawk as long as he was in the president’s vicinity.

The senators all got to their feet as President Amidala entered and murmured their greetings. “Please, sit,” President Amidala said, waving a hand and settling into her own chair as the others followed suit. “Thank you so much for making time for this meeting.”

“As if we had a choice,” Palpatine said; Padmé and the others all chuckled, though Anakin was pretty sure he’d meant to be exactly as rude as he’d sounded. “How is the presidency treating you, ma’am?”

“Very well, thank you,” President Amidala said politely. “Busy, of course, but very well. Now, we all know each other since I was also serving in the Senate until recently, so what do you say we skip over introductions and get right to business?”

The other agents on duty were waiting outside the room, but Anakin was going to remain standing in the corner for the whole meeting. He mentally prepared himself for a long, eye-glazingly dull discussion about budgets and finances. He’d been thrilled when Mace had promoted him to head of President Amidala’s security team, but he had to admit that so far, he’d been obligated to sit in on a lot more boring meetings than he’d had to do as a regular agent during Valorum’s time in office. Not that Anakin necessarily minded getting to see President Amidala in her natural environment; she was just as charismatic and impassioned a speaker in person as she was on TV if not more so, and more than once thus far Anakin had found himself nodding along with her words before remembering he wasn’t supposed to express any kind of political opinions whatsoever while on duty.

“…just don’t think your proposed spending increases on healthcare, education, and welfare programs are feasible, ma’am,” Palpatine was saying. “Where are we supposed to get all this money from?”

“Well, we’ll have to run a deficit, naturally, but as you can see on page sixteen—” there was a rustling of paper as everyone flipped to the page “—I proposed making some cuts to spending on national defense and raising income taxes.”

“Neither of those measures will be popular, ma’am,” Senator Dooku said among muttering from the others.

“That would depend on whose opinion you ask,” President Amidala replied calmly. “Our job is to stabilize the economy and if that means enacting unpopular measures that will be effective in the long run, so be it. We need to increase government spending to help the economy out of its current recession.”

“Or we could let the Federal Reserve handle that.”

“Lowering interest rates will only do so much, and if they print too much money we’ll have inflation on our hands,” President Amidala shot back. “Increasing government spending on welfare will help get unemployed Americans back on their feet and into the labor market once more, which will ultimately increase productivity and prosperity for the whole country.”

“Yes, until they’re forced to pay higher taxes and lose that hard-earned money,” Palpatine said, frowning. “If anything, we should be cutting taxes to provide more incentive to work.”

President Amidala scoffed. “Supply-side economics? Hasn’t that been proven time and time again to have a very negligible effect?”

“With all due respect, Madam President, I and everyone on this committee have more economic expertise than you,” Palpatine said, causing Anakin to raise his eyebrows at the blatant disrespect. “Hence why we are on the Finance Committee and you never were.”

“That may be, but I do have enough economic expertise to know that the increase in economic activity thanks to tax cuts doesn’t nearly compensate for all the lost tax revenue,” President Amidala said without missing a beat.

Anakin only vaguely understood what they were talking about, but if President Amidala wanted to increase spending on welfare programs, his already significant respect for her had just doubled. Much of his childhood and adolescence had been spent toeing the poverty line, and he and his mother had depended on welfare to get by more often than not. They were financially stable now that Anakin had been in a well-paying job since college—he sent money to Shmi back home in Arizona every month—but even so Anakin would never forget everything that government welfare programs had done for them. And all the times they hadn’t done enough.

In fact, Anakin mused as the discussion continued, that was one of the primary reasons he’d voted for President Amidala. To be fair, he probably would’ve voted for almost anyone over Palpatine, but President Amidala’s platform as a voice for those who had none made her one of the most appealing candidates he’d ever seen. The more cynical part of his brain had wondered whether she was just making empty promises to get people to vote for her, but now Anakin was pleased to see she appeared to be planning to make good on her word. At least, to whatever extent Congress allowed her to.

The meeting dragged on and on, and by the time it finally drew to a close Anakin was pretty sure that the guise of diplomacy was the only thing keeping President Amidala and Palpatine from openly taking swings at each other. Not that Anakin could blame her if she did just deck him; the way he was sitting there talking about taking away funding for programs that literally kept people alive made Anakin want to throw a few punches himself. Palpatine had no idea what it was like, none of them did. Hell, even President Amidala had no idea, seeing as she’d been born into wealth and privilege too, but at least she was making an effort to see the world from the perspective of those less fortunate than her. And in Anakin’s experience, that was something that could be said for relatively few politicians.


Padmé strode back to the Oval Office with Anakin trailing close behind, her head throbbing. “Fucking unbelievable,” she muttered. “Palpatine’s always been an insufferable dick, but this is a whole new level even for him.”

She heard Anakin snicker quietly and she turned to look at him. He immediately schooled his features into a neutral expression and said, “Sorry, ma’am. I’ve just never heard you use such, uh, colorful language before.”

“Well, you’ll probably be hearing a lot more of it if that meeting was any indication of what the rest of my term’s going to be like,” Padmé said grimly. “Some of the changes they were trying to make to my budget proposal…I mean, obviously it’ll be hard to find the money, but still, if it’ll help people it’s worth trying. Sometimes I wonder if half those senators have any sense of compassion or human decency at all. Like, is the thought of allotting more money to welfare programs really as much of a travesty as they were making it sound?”

They’d reached her office by then, and she glanced over at Anakin and realized he was hovering awkwardly by the door as if uncertain whether he was dismissed or not. A noncommittal cough was his only response to her question, and Padmé said, “Oh, sorry, I always forget you’re not supposed to talk about politics with me. Especially seeing as you guys are just about the only people that rule applies to.”

Anakin laughed, and her heart did an odd little flip-flop at the sound. “No, ma’am,” he agreed. “I can’t say anything about what I think about that meeting, but…I can say that I probably wouldn’t be here today without all the government assistance that helped support me and my mom when I was a kid.”

Padmé looked at him in surprise; he’d told her a little bit about his mother and his childhood, but he’d never given any indication as to what their financial status had been. “Really?” she said, unable to hide her curiosity.

“Yeah. We were lucky, though,” Anakin added a moment later. “I got a full scholarship to college and after that I got this job, so I’ve been able to support us both ever since. But most people don’t get scholarships, so they can’t afford to go to college, and they can’t get a good job because they didn’t go to college, and they can’t afford to send their kids to college because they don’t have a good job. My mom and I were lucky enough to be able to break the cycle. Most people like us aren’t.”

Padmé sighed, knowing how true his words were. Of course she knew she wouldn’t be able to end poverty in four (or eight) years, but that didn’t make it any less frustrating to be the most powerful person in the country and yet feel so powerless. “Well, I’m glad you managed to make it out,” she said. “I just wish everyone could. And I wish there was a more effective way I could help besides sending Congress a budget proposal they’re going to argue over for months and ultimately reject. Or even if it does pass, how much good will it do to actual real people? It’s all very well to increase funding on welfare programs, but how much of that funding will actually go directly to the people who need it?”

Anakin regarded her thoughtfully for a minute. “My mom and I always saved and kept track of every penny we had,” he said at last. “And sure, it would’ve been nice to win the lottery, but over time the pennies added up. So I guess my point is, sometimes it feels like the little things don’t help, but they do. Everything helps, no matter how insignificant it might seem.”

Padmé smiled at him, feeling slightly cheered. Suddenly, she remembered writing an essay in third grade about what she wanted to be when she grew up. I want to be the president of the United States so I can help people. Maybe she wouldn’t be able to achieve world peace or end poverty the way her naïve younger self had always dreamed of doing, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t still help people in smaller ways, smaller ways that would add up over time.

“Thank you, that was…very insightful,” she said. “Although I could still do with an Advil right about now.”

“Would you like me to send someone to get you some, ma’am?” Anakin asked, grinning.

“Oh, no. I always keep a bottle in my desk drawer just in case.”

His grin turned into a full-out laugh at that, and once again there was a weird bubbly feeling in Padmé’s stomach. Her gaze lingered on him as he turned to leave, but the sound of the door shutting behind him caused her to start slightly and shake her head.

Padmé sat down at her desk and pulled out the stack of paperwork she had to get through that afternoon, silently scolding herself for letting her thoughts wander. Sure, Anakin had thus far proven himself to be very likable and good company, and he certainly wasn’t unpleasant to look at either, but that was all there was to it. He was Padmé’s bodyguard; their relationship could never be anything more than strictly professional. Not that Padmé was even entertaining any notions of a more-than-professional relationship with him, obviously.

Though for the rest of the afternoon, a small voice kept whispering in the back of her mind that maybe if their circumstances were different…

Padmé awoke the next morning feeling refreshed and in a much better mood than the day before. As she began getting dressed, she couldn’t help but admit to herself that her improved spirits were largely thanks to her conversation with Anakin after the frustrating meeting with the Finance Committee. Maybe he’d just been being polite or trying to make her feel better, but regardless of how sincere he’d been, his words had succeeded in encouraging her.

Plus, she thought, the things he’d been saying about his childhood and financial struggles were surely too personal to fall under the category of “just being polite.” No, he’d confided in her. Almost as if they were friends.

That thought cheered Padmé even more, and the rest of the day passed pleasantly and relatively free of ordeals. The evening found her in her private dining room with Breha Organa. Both Organas were joining her for dinner that night, though they were currently waiting on Bail to finish up with his meeting. Padmé didn’t mind his lateness; on the contrary, she enjoyed spending one-on-one time with Breha, something that didn’t happen very often seeing as they knew each other through Bail.

Breha was also one of the few of Padmé’s political friends who knew when to put political talk aside in favor of more lighthearted conversation, which Padmé was growing to appreciate more and more as her presidency (and the stresses that went with it) progressed. “I swear, we were standing outside my door avoiding each other’s eyes for ten minutes before I finally decided to take matters into my own hands, so I leaned in and kissed him,” Breha said, laughing. She was just finishing up regaling Padmé with the tale of her and Bail’s first date.

Padmé joined in her laughter. “What did he do then?”

“Oh, he got all flustered and embarrassed and barely managed to get out a ‘goodbye’ before running back to his car, but he did call me a few days later to set up another date,” Breha said fondly.

“I never would’ve pictured Bail being so shy around you at first,” Padmé said, delighted at this new tidbit of information she’d be able to tease him with later. “He’s such a confident public speaker.”

“A confident public speaker does not a confident flirter make,” Breha said wisely, and they both chuckled again. “Luckily I’ve always been good at making the first move, or else who knows if we ever would’ve gone anywhere.”

Padmé smiled as she imagined what the Organas must have been like all those years ago when their relationship was still new and uncertain. “And look at you now, married for five years,” she said. “Happy anniversary, by the way, if I don’t see you again before Saturday.”

“Thank you,” Breha said, beaming. “I can’t believe it’s been five years already…time’s just flown by. Bail makes every day feel new and exciting.”

Padmé’s expression turned a little wistful. What must that be like, finding your life partner and settling down with them? She’d often wondered how anyone could choose one person to be with forever without the relationship getting boring and stale, but perhaps that was only because Padmé herself hadn’t yet managed to find the right person. Besides, when she looked at Bail and Breha, or her sister and brother-in-law, or even her own parents, she found herself wishing she could find her other half, if such a person even existed.

Breha must have seen some of this on her face because her smile suddenly turned sly. “So, what about you?” she asked.

“What do you mean?” said Padmé.

“When are you going to settle down with someone?”

Padmé laughed. “I’m a little busy running the country, Breha.”

“That doesn’t mean you don’t have time for anything else.”

“It kind of does, actually.”

“Oh, nonsense,” Breha said briskly. “I’m sure you could find time for dating somewhere. You’ve been single for…what, two years now?”

“Yes,” Padmé said, turning a little pink. “By choice.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Planning to run for president, running for president, and being president are three very time-consuming things I’ve been up to for the past two years,” said Padmé defensively. “Besides, I just haven’t met anyone lately I’d even be interested in.”

Breha regarded her thoughtfully. “No time like the present to start looking. You’re probably going to meet more people throughout your presidency than in the rest of your life combined.”

“That’s true,” Padmé acknowledged rather reluctantly.

Then that sly look was back, to Padmé’s consternation. “How about any of the people you’ve already met over the past few weeks?”

“Like who?”

“Well, for example, that bodyguard of yours is quite handsome,” Breha said conspiratorially. “You know, the one who’s with you all the time…”

Padmé gaped at her. “Wha—you mean Anakin?”

“Yes, that’s him.”

“He isn’t—we’re not—that would be beyond impossible,” Padmé spluttered; she could feel her face flaming and she hated herself for it. Thank God neither Anakin nor any of the other agents were in the room at the moment, having given her and Breha privacy for dinner. “You have your own security too, you know we’re barely even supposed to be friends with them. I’d never be allowed to have any kind of—of relationship with Anakin.”

Breha scoffed. “Not allowed? Padmé, you are a grown woman.”

“Okay, well, I doubt Mace Windu would appreciate it if Anakin was cavorting about with me instead of focusing on protecting me. And I can only imagine how the tabloids would talk.”

“Then maybe no one has to know about it.” Before Padmé could counter that, Breha added rather smugly, “Funny that you immediately jumped into all these reasons of why you can’t be with him instead of just, you know, saying you’re not interested in him.”

“Oh. Well, I’m not interested in him, obviously,” Padmé said, feeling her face get even redder. “That was all just hypothetical.”

Breha looked like she was enjoying herself immensely.

Thankfully, just then the door opened and Bail walked in. “Bail,” Padmé said, relieved. “How was your meeting?”

“Same old, same old,” he replied. “Sorry I’m late.”

“That’s all right, we were just chatting,” said Breha, leaning over to peck him on the cheek as he sat down beside her.

“What about?” Bail asked.

“Nothing exciting,” Padmé said at once before Breha had a chance to say anything. Breha caught her eye and smirked, and Padmé scowled back. Her and Anakin. What an utterly ridiculous notion.

Chapter Text

A few days later, Padmé was thrown off as she stepped out into the hallway and came face-to-face with Obi-Wan. “Hello, Obi-Wan,” she said, not entirely able to hide her surprise. “I didn’t realize you were on duty this morning. Where’s Anakin?”

“He has the weekend off, ma’am, and I’m filling in for him,” Obi-Wan informed her. “He was supposed to tell you ahead of time…”

“Oh, that’s right, he did tell me,” Padmé said quickly; she now recalled Anakin briefly mentioning it a day or two before. “I guess it just slipped my mind.”

She tried her best not to feel too disappointed as she headed across the hall for breakfast. Thus far in her presidency, Anakin had been one of the only staples, one of the only people who was there by her side every day; in fact, as the day progressed Padmé was startled by how keenly she felt his absence. They’d only known each other a month, how was she so attached to him already?

Perhaps it was because, as the media was so fond of discussing, there was no First Family living with her in the White House. Of course she kept in touch with her parents and sister, but they all lived back home in Massachusetts. Here in DC, Padmé had no family with her, no spouse or partner, no children. And so maybe since Anakin was the person she spent the most time with, she’d subconsciously been using him to fill the void of loneliness that she always refused to acknowledge existed.

Padmé wasn’t lonely, for the record. She wasn’t. She had all her work to keep her busy, so busy that even if she did have a family of her own, she wouldn’t have enough time for them, and that wouldn’t be fair to them. No, it was better that she was single and childless. That left her more time and energy to focus on her political responsibilities.

Still, as Obi-Wan spent the entire day politely rebuffing her attempts at long conversations and insisting he didn’t want to distract her, as Padmé thought about the easy rapport between her and Anakin she’d been taking for granted until now that it was suddenly gone, there may or may not have been a tiny part of her that did feel a little lonely.


Anakin, meanwhile, was having a much better day. He slept late, didn’t even bother getting out of bed for another half hour after he woke up, slouched down the hall for breakfast wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt, then returned to his room and planned to spend the day doing nothing at all. He’d been looking forward to his weekend off all month.

But…he did feel oddly empty at the thought of not seeing President Amidala again until Monday. Well, he supposed, he knew her schedule like the back of his hand; he could easily go for a stroll through the White House and casually bump into her at a time and place he knew she’d be. Not that he cared that much, of course. He just missed her a little bit, that was all. After all, he’d spent the majority of every day for a month with her. It was natural for him to feel strange without her, just as it was natural to feel strange when any routine was disrupted. Yes, that was all it was, the disruption of a routine.

Around three, Anakin pulled out his laptop and Skyped his mother. He felt guilty that he rarely had time to talk to her at length, so he’d promised to talk as long as she wanted that afternoon since he had the day off.

“Ani!” Shmi said as soon as the call went through, beaming at him.

Anakin smiled back, trying to fight back a sudden wave of homesickness. He hadn’t lived at home in ten years, but even now he still missed his mother sometimes. “Hi, Mom,” he said. “How have you been? How’s work?”

“Oh, the usual,” she said with a chuckle. “Nowhere near as exciting as your job, I imagine.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” Anakin replied. “Pretty much all I ever do is sit in on political meetings or loiter in hallways. I don’t even know which is more boring.”

Shmi laughed. “Still, it must be exciting to work for a new president, right?”

“True.”

“What’s she like?”

Anakin pondered the question for a moment. “She’s…she’s amazing,” he said honestly. “Right off the bat she was asking me and the other agents where we’re from, what our families are like, what we like to do in our free time, that kind of thing. She actually cares about getting to know us as people instead of just pretending we’re invisible like she’s technically supposed to. And she always makes a point to learn other staff members’ names when she runs into them, and then she even remembers all of them afterwards. Valorum never did that kind of thing. Oh, and you should’ve heard the things she was saying to the Senate Finance Committee in their budget meeting the other day. I mean, I guess I probably shouldn’t tell you, but it’s not like you’re going to blab to anyone, so…”

Anakin ended up prattling on and on about President Amidala for much longer than he’d intended, and it was only when he stopped for breath that he realized Shmi was giving him a knowing look. “What?” he asked.

“I know that face.”

“What face?”

“That face you’re making right now,” Shmi said. “It’s the same one you always had when you were nine and you were telling me how you were going to marry our next-door neighbor.”

Anakin immediately turned crimson and replaced the smile he hadn’t even realized he was wearing with a frown. “I’m not—I wasn’t making any face,” he protested.

“You were, and now you’re blushing,” Shmi replied, looking delighted. “You have a crush on President Amidala, don’t you?”

“A-a crush? Mom, I am thirty-one years old, not twelve,” Anakin said with as much dignity as he could muster—which, considering his face was still incriminatingly red, wasn’t much. “As if I’d even be allowed—I mean, that would be so inappropriate. And unprofessional. She’s my boss, sort of. I’m definitely not allowed to have feelings for her. Which is totally fine, because I don’t. I just admire her, that’s all. She’s the president, lots of people admire her.”

“Yes, but I bet most of them don’t admire her as much as you do.” Anakin opened his mouth to defend himself, but Shmi cut him off with a gentle laugh. “All right, all right, I was just teasing you, Ani. I’m sorry for making you flustered.”

“I’m not flustered, because I don’t have feelings for her,” Anakin grumbled. “The very idea is just—just ridiculous.” He cleared his throat. “How’s Cliegg? And Owen?”

Shmi smiled and, mercifully, went along with the subject change. “Both great. Owen was over for dinner the other night and he brought his new girlfriend.”

“Oh yeah, Beru, right?” Anakin asked, remembering Owen had mentioned her to him a little while ago. “What’s she like?”

“Wonderful. One of the sweetest people I’ve ever met,” Shmi said happily. “They’re very well-matched, too. I think it’s going to last a long time.”

“That’s great.”

Shmi continued filling him in on local gossip for a while. She was right to say it wasn’t as interesting as the goings-on of the White House, but Anakin still liked hearing about what everyone back home was up to. Cliegg Lars was her boyfriend of three years and his son Owen was about Anakin’s age. When they’d first gotten together Anakin had felt weirdly jealous; it had only been him and Shmi for his entire life, and part of him had subconsciously feared she was trying to replace him with a new family now that he lived so far from home and wasn’t able to visit very often. Fortunately, his rationality had won out soon enough, and now he was glad that Shmi wasn’t lonely and living in their house all by herself. He still wasn’t particularly close with Cliegg or Owen—his relationship with them was entirely built on Skype calls and a handful of brief trips back to Arizona—but nevertheless they got on pretty well.

It was another hour or two before they hung up, and then many more hours before Anakin went to bed, but when he curled up under the blankets that night he was still thinking about Shmi’s accusation that he had a crush on President Amidala. Utterly ridiculous, he told himself yet again. Just because he had lots of praise for her didn’t mean he had a crush on her, it just meant she was a good person whom he had high regard for. He liked her professionally and maybe even platonically—their working relationship was starting to border on genuine friendship—but certainly not romantically. She was the kindest, smartest, most beautiful woman Anakin had ever met, but he definitely didn’t have a crush on her. Not in the slightest.


On Monday morning, Padmé couldn’t hold back the smile on her face as she stepped out of her room and saw Anakin once again waiting for her in the hall. He smiled back, the corners of his eyes crinkling in the way she’d come to love. Wait, what? “Good morning, ma’am,” he said before Padmé had time to puzzle over that thought.

“Good morning,” she replied. She began walking towards the dining room and Anakin fell into step beside her. “How was your weekend off?”

“Very restful.”

“That’s good to hear. You definitely deserved it.”

“Thank you, ma’am. You deserve a weekend off, too,” he added, grinning.

“Yes, well, unfortunately it’s not so easy to find someone to fill in for me for a couple days,” Padmé said wryly. Belatedly, she realized that had come out sounding rather snobby, but to her relief Anakin just laughed and agreed, not seeming at all offended.

Upon their arrival, Padmé took a seat and started helping herself to some eggs as Anakin stood against the opposite wall. He wasn’t strictly required to hang around while she ate—her private dining room was secure enough that she could be on her own—but he often did if she didn’t have company so they could continue to chat for a few minutes. Padmé always wanted to ask him to join her when she ate, but never did because she knew he’d already eaten and figured it would probably be rather inappropriate for her to even offer. She wished he’d at least sit at the table with her, but again, that probably violated some silly etiquette protocol or other.

“What did you do all weekend?” she asked before taking a sip of coffee.

Anakin shrugged. “Not much, really. I did get a chance to Skype my mom, though, which was nice.”

“Oh, that’s great,” Padmé said sincerely with another smile. Even having known him for only a month, she’d already gotten the impression that Anakin and his mother were very close. “You said she’s your only family, right?”

“Well, she’s been dating someone for a few years and he has a son, so I guess they’re kind of like my unofficial stepfamily. But before that it was always just the two of us,” he said, nodding. “My dad walked out when she was pregnant and she never got married or had more kids, so…”

“Oh,” Padmé said, surprised. She had gotten the sense that Anakin’s father wasn’t in the picture, but this was the first time he’d explicitly said anything about it. “I’m sorry to hear that, about your dad.”

Anakin made a face. “Don’t be. He was a total scumbag, at least from what my mom’s mentioned. She said she’s glad he was never part of my life.”

“Oh,” Padmé repeated, once again struck by how vastly different Anakin’s background was from hers and most of the people she knew. Then again, growing up in an upper-middle-class New England family meant that all through school and college she’d mostly only come into contact with other upper-middle-class New England families. And then she’d immediately gone into a career field that was also filled with social and financial elites.

Anakin cleared his throat; his cheeks were a little pink, as if he was embarrassed for doling out too much personal information. “So anyway, yeah. Just me and my mom, and now Cliegg and Owen,” he said. “And obviously that’s how it’ll be for the foreseeable future too.”

“Obviously?” Padmé asked, confused by the choice of words. “You don’t want to start your own family someday?”

“I just meant, my job isn’t exactly conducive to family life.”

“It isn’t?”

“Well, I spend most of my time with you, ma’am,” Anakin said. “And even when I’m off-duty, I’m still actually on-duty in case there’s an emergency or something. So I wouldn’t be able to spend much time with my hypothetical family, or even be in a situation to meet someone and fall in love in the first place. I don’t think any of the other agents on your team have kids, and most of them don’t have spouses or partners either.”

Now that he mentioned it, Padmé realized that indeed, hardly anyone had said anything about children or romantic relationships when she’d asked about their families, only parents and siblings. “I guess that makes sense,” she said.

She’d been eating in silence for several minutes when Anakin suddenly said, “Do you ever get lonely, ma’am?”

Padmé looked over at him in surprise, and he flushed a little as their eyes met. “Sorry?” she said.

He shrugged and stuffed his hands in his pockets. “Well, we were talking about me not having a family of my own, and you don’t either, ma’am, so I was just thinking…I served President Valorum before you and he had a wife and kids, and he was always so excited to come home to them at the end of the day and just relax with them and not have to think about politics anymore,” he explained. “So I guess I was just wondering…I mean, it must be hard. Doing this job alone without anyone to share the burden with you. That’s all.” He swallowed and looked at her nervously. “I don’t mean to pry, I’m sorry if that was out of line—”

“No, it’s all right,” Padmé interrupted. “You’re not the only one. The media and my mother have been mourning my lack of a First Gentleman since election day.” They both chuckled, and then there was a brief silence as Padmé gathered her thoughts before continuing. “I’ve always been…independent, very independent, and most of the time I’m happy enough to be on my own. But…sometimes I do get lonely, especially now that I’m living in this huge place all alone. Sometimes I wish I had a family to come home to, like you said. Obviously I talk to my parents and my sister all the time, but…it’s just not the same as having someone here with me.”

Realizing she was starting to overshare, Padmé quickly cut herself off, feeling rather embarrassed. Then before she could stop herself, she was asking Anakin, “What about you? Do you ever get lonely? You did just say that being an agent isn’t conducive to family life, but you didn’t say whether or not you minded.”

“I do sometimes. But it’s hard to be lonely when I spend most of the day with you, ma’am. A-and with the other agents too, obviously,” he hastened to add, cheeks turning red, and Padmé’s stomach inexplicably squirmed. “I actually have always wanted a family of my own, though, so I figure I’ll retire after you’re out of office, and then maybe I’ll get a more normal job, meet someone, settle down, have kids…”

The wistful expression on his face was doing funny things to Padmé’s heart. “That sounds nice,” she said, equally wistful. “Though I’m sure the White House will be sorry to lose you.”

Anakin smiled at her. “Thank you, ma’am. But I can’t do this job forever, I’ll burn out. It would be almost as taxing as if you had to do your job forever.”

Padmé grimaced at the thought, then laughed. “Touché.”

After a moment of comfortable silence, Anakin ventured, “Would you also want to get married after you’re out of office, ma’am? Or maybe even while you’re still president?”

“Definitely. I’ve always wanted to get married and have kids.” Padmé smiled ruefully. “But I don’t imagine it having much chance of happening anymore.”

“Why not?”

“Well, right now I’m not really in a position to meet someone any more than you are. And besides, who’s going to want to marry the president, or even a former president? Only someone who’d be trying to take advantage of my power or use me to further their own ambitions,” she said. “Any kind, decent, humble person, the sort of person I’d want to marry…they’d never want to marry me and deal with all the publicity and craziness that would go along with it.”

“Maybe if they loved you,” Anakin said rather suddenly.

Padmé stared at him, and he blushed again. “What?”

He cleared his throat and embarrassedly looked down at his shoes. “I just meant, if someone loved you, ma’am, if they truly, deeply loved you, they’d be willing to put up with all the other stuff. They’d think you were worth it.”

Now Padmé was blushing too, and it took a moment before she felt composed enough to say, “Well, then I guess I can only hope I’ll be able to find that person.”

“I hope so too.” Anakin promptly turned even redder and quickly added, “For your sake, I mean, ma’am. If getting married and having kids is something you want, then I hope you get to do it.”

“Thank you.” Padmé gave him a small smile. “And I hope you get to do it, too.”

Chapter Text

March flew by, and it was April before Anakin knew it. He couldn’t believe he’d already been serving President Amidala for three months. It felt like the time had passed in the blink of an eye, and yet it also felt like they’d known each other for years. They’d been getting closer every day, to the point where Anakin had now thrown protocol completely out the window and decided to think of her as his friend. He knew it was unprofessional but he just didn’t care, and neither did President Amidala as far as he could tell. There was a genuine connection between them, and perhaps under different circumstances—

No, Anakin told himself sternly. Friendship was pushing it, and anything more than that would be completely inappropriate. Not to mention that even if they were two regular people instead of president and bodyguard, she’d still be way out of his league. President Amidala was incredible. Anakin wouldn’t be good enough for her in any universe.

He sighed quietly as he watched her pore over the guest list for that evening’s gala to promote a bill that the Senate would be voting on in a few weeks (some sort of reform to the public education system, though Anakin didn’t know the details). The truth was, with every passing day Anakin was less and less able to deny to himself his attraction to President Amidala. He’d thought she was beautiful from the moment they’d met, yes, but it was more than that now. The more time he spent with her and the more he got to know her, the more he fell for her personality, for all her quirks and flaws that the general public never got to see.

But he tried to pretend he wasn’t falling for her because if he was, it would be a disaster. She’d probably have him fired if she found out. Mace would definitely fire him if he found out. Trust Anakin to fall for the one person on the entire planet he wasn’t allowed to fall for. Except that he wasn’t falling for her. It was just a fleeting phase, it would pass within a few weeks. It was probably his mother’s fault for suggesting the idea that he had feelings for President Amidala in the first place. Yes, that was it. Shmi had put the idea into his head and now he couldn’t get it out. But he would. Hopefully soon.

“Shit,” President Amidala suddenly said under her breath. “Shit, shit, shit, shit.”

“Everything all right, ma’am?” Anakin said. In his experience, she only swore when Palpatine was involved.

Apparently not. “I completely forgot Senator Clovis would be attending tonight,” she said glumly, still gazing down at the guest list.

Anakin’s stomach lurched. Thanks to his extensive knowledge of President Amidala’s background (it was part of his job, it wasn’t like he’d been stalking her), he knew that she’d dated Rush Clovis for three years while they’d both been serving in the Senate. He didn’t know much about Clovis, but he seemed insufferable and annoying and terrible. Anakin totally wasn’t biased.

“Oh, that’s right, he’s your ex, isn’t he, ma’am?” Anakin said in a would-be nonchalant voice.

“Mm-hmm. It’s been two years since we broke up, but I’m worried he’ll still be upset about it. I haven’t really spoken to him since,” said President Amidala. “And the breakup…ah, wasn’t exactly pleasant.”

“Really? What happened? I mean, if you don’t mind my asking,” Anakin hastily added, not wanting to seem nosy. To be fair, she was the one who’d brought it up.

Sure enough, she said, “Oh, not at all. Basically, we’d been together three years and our relationship wasn’t really going anywhere…the spark was gone, I guess, or at least it was for me. I realized I couldn’t see myself with him long-term, so I decided to end things between us. But before I got the chance to do it, he asked me to marry him.”

Anakin’s eyes widened. “He didn’t.”

“He did,” President Amidala said, grimacing. “You know, I think he must have felt it too, the way our relationship was at a standstill, except his solution was to revive it by proposing to me whereas mine was to end it. Anyway, so then instead of just having to break up with him, I also had to reject his proposal on top of that. Needless to say, it wasn’t a good day for either of us.”

Anakin gave a low whistle. “I can imagine. And tonight is the first time you’re seeing him since then?”

“Well, no, we continued to see each other because of work,” President Amidala said. “But we always ignored each other and tonight I’ll have to talk to him.”

“Why? You could ignore him tonight too, ma’am. Or uninvite him.”

She chuckled. “Tempting, but I need his support for this bill, so I’ll have to play nice.”

Anakin waved a hand. “What difference can one senator make?”

“Quite a lot, unfortunately.”

They were quiet for a minute as she put the list aside and turned back to her computer, and then Anakin said casually, “Was that the closest you’ve ever come to getting married, ma’am?” He wasn’t prying, he was making conversation. Obviously.

President Amidala nodded. “I’ve actually only ever been in two serious relationships,” she said a little sheepishly. “I dated an artist named Palo for a couple years in my twenties, but our careers were taking us in different directions so we amicably decided to part ways just before I ran for senator.” She paused for a second, then laughed. “Now that I’m thinking about it, I seem to have a pattern of ending relationships right before running for a major political office.”

Anakin laughed too. “Well, since there’s no higher office to run for after president, maybe your next relationship will be the one that lasts.”

“I hope so,” she said with a slightly wistful smile. Then she looked at him curiously. “What about you? Have you had many serious relationships?”

Anakin shook his head. “I dated Eirtaé briefly a couple years ago, but that was my only relationship since college.”

President Amidala gaped at him. “Eirtaé? The White House florist?”

“Yeah.”

For a second Anakin could’ve sworn she looked irritated, but then she laughed and he figured he must’ve imagined it. “Is it awkward to still have to work with her?”

“Not really. The White House is a big place and we don’t cross paths that much,” Anakin said. “Besides, we were only together a few months and mutually decided to end things when we realized we just weren’t right for each other, so there’s no hard feelings or anything.”

“That’s nice,” President Amidala said. “Wait, you’ve only had one relationship since college?”

Anakin felt his cheeks heat up. “Well, I’ve been working for the Secret Service since college and even all the lower positions are pretty demanding, so I haven’t exactly had much time for dating, ma’am,” he said rather defensively.

“I understand, I haven’t really had time for dating either,” she said quickly. “I didn’t mean to be rude, I just thought—well, I was a little surprised, that’s all, seeing as you’re so…”

Now she was blushing. “So what?” Anakin asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Nothing, I just meant, you know, you have a lot of good qualities that other people would surely find attractive,” President Amidala mumbled.

“Oh. Thank you, ma’am,” he said, trying not to feel hurt at the care she took to say other people. What reason did he have to be hurt anyway? Anakin had no right to expect her to find him attractive. He was the only one here with inappropriate feelings. Inappropriate temporary feelings.


The rest of the afternoon passed quickly, and just before dinnertime Padmé found herself sitting patiently in front of her vanity as her hairstylist Rabé worked on her updo for the gala. As much as she disliked schmoozing with other politicians the way she’d be doing all night, Padmé was glad to have a change of pace from her usual paperwork-filled evenings. And she did always love the opportunity to get dressed up, even if it was for business instead of for fun.

Once Rabé was done, Padmé got dressed—a simple but elegant blue evening gown—and did her makeup, then put her jewelry and heels on and headed outside. Obi-Wan and Ahsoka were on the evening shift that week, and they were standing with Anakin in the hallway. All three turned to look as they heard the door opening and closing.

“You look amazing, ma’am,” Ahsoka said, and Obi-Wan hummed in agreement.

Padmé smiled at them. “Thank you.” They, of course, were wearing their customary suits. Not for the first time, Padmé wondered what they would look like in casual clothes. She couldn’t picture it. Then again, it wasn’t like any of them had ever seen her wear anything but dresses and pantsuits either; she only allowed herself to dress down when she was alone in her room at the very end of the day.

She glanced over at Anakin and saw that he was gazing at her with his mouth slightly open. “Anakin? Are you all right?” she asked politely, unsure as to why he was looking at her like that.

He started and quickly schooled his features into a neutral expression, though it was rather ruined by the pink tinge that bloomed on his cheeks. “Fine, thank you, ma’am,” he said a little awkwardly.

Padmé was puzzled by his behavior but decided to let it go. Besides, Anakin did look cute when he was flustered…wait, what?

A faint blush on her own cheeks now, Padmé turned away and headed towards the East Room with the others following behind. “Ma’am, do you know if Secretary Kryze is going to be there?” Ahsoka said suddenly.

Padmé looked at her in surprise; she was wearing an oddly mischievous expression. “Satine?” Satine Kryze was the Secretary of State. “No, she wasn’t able to make it. Why do you ask?”

“No reason,” Ahsoka said innocently, just as Anakin said at the same time, “Oh, too bad, Obi-Wan.”

Now Padmé turned to Obi-Wan, who was beet red and glaring at the other two. “Why does Obi-Wan care?”

“I don’t,” Obi-Wan said immediately.

“Sure you don’t,” Ahsoka said as Anakin snickered. “Obi-Wan has a huge crush on Secretary Kryze, ma’am.”

“I most certainly do not!” he spluttered; the other two laughed even louder and Padmé was grinning too now, delighted to see the perpetually composed Obi-Wan so flustered. “Anyway, you shouldn’t be wasting the president’s time with such trivial and false gossip.”

“Oh, no, this is an excellent use of my time, Obi-Wan,” Padmé assured him. “You and Satine…you know, I thought there was something going on there.” She’d been in the same room as the pair of them several times, and just recently she’d started picking up on some sort of tension between them.

“Tell me about it, ma’am, they’re so obvious,” Ahsoka said smugly. “We’ve been telling him to ask her out for months but he won’t do it.”

“Years,” Anakin chimed in. “We saw a lot of Secretary Kryze during President Valorum’s second term too, she was a senator then. You’re lucky, Snips. I’ve been watching them flirt for four years without actually making a move. It’s horrible.”

“I’ve told you a thousand times, it would be inappropriate,” Obi-Wan said, frowning at him. “And we haven’t been flirting.”

“Oh, I beg to differ.”

“I don’t see why it would be inappropriate,” Padmé interrupted. “The two of you don’t have any sort of professional relationship. Sure, it would be inappropriate for one of you to ask me out since you’re my bodyguards, but I’d say you’re well within your rights to ask Satine out.”

Now there was a bit of hope mixed in with Obi-Wan’s embarrassed expression, Padmé noted happily. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw Anakin flinch at her words, but then she was distracted by Ahsoka saying, “Thank God. Maybe now he’ll finally do something about it.”

“That’s rich coming from you,” Obi-Wan muttered.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ahsoka said indignantly.

“Just that you get completely tongue-tied every time we run into Senator Chuchi.”

Now it was Ahsoka’s turn to flush. “Ahsoka has a crush on Senator Chuchi?” Padmé said, grin widening.

“No!”

“Yes, she does, ma’am,” Obi-Wan informed her. “You should watch them together sometime, it’s painful.”

“Not as painful as watching you and Satine!”

Laughing, Padmé looked at Anakin, who had thus far managed to escape the conversation unscathed. “What about you, Anakin, have you got a crush on any politicians? Apparently it’s a common phenomenon.”

“No, ma’am, I don’t,” he said quickly—and Padmé couldn’t help but feel it was too quick, as if he was trying to hide something. Her curiosity doubled.

“Is he lying?” she asked Obi-Wan and Ahsoka.

“Unfortunately not,” Ahsoka said with a dramatic sigh. “At least not as far as I can tell.”

“Trust me, you’d be able to tell,” said Obi-Wan. “You should’ve seen what he was like when he had a crush on Eirtaé during President Valorum’s second term. It was terribly obvious. I think the entire White House staff had already figured it out by the time he actually worked up the courage to ask her out.”

Ahsoka guffawed, Anakin scowled, and Padmé—and Padmé felt a strange, nasty feeling bubbling in the pit of her stomach, something very similar to what she’d felt when Anakin had mentioned his relationship with Eirtaé earlier that day. Snap out of it, Padmé, what is wrong with you? she told herself furiously, and she did her best to shake it off and laugh along with Ahsoka.

They arrived a minute later. All the guests were already there and milling around, though they fell silent as she entered. The crowd parted to let her through, and Padmé made her way to the front of the room to address everyone.

“Thank you so much for coming this evening. And of course, thank you to the White House staff who worked incredibly hard to put this event together.” Padmé paused to allow a smattering of applause before continuing. “As you know, I invited you here tonight to discuss the education bill which successfully passed in the House and will be voted on in the Senate in two weeks. I know that many of you are on the fence about this bill, but I urge you to vote for it rather than against. I truly believe that if the bill passes, it will have a significant positive impact on the public education system in our country. I hope to get a chance to speak with each of you tonight to hear your questions and concerns about the bill. Representative Mothma, who originally proposed the bill in the House, is also here and will be happy to answer your questions as well. Now, please enjoy the refreshments, drinks, and dancing we’ve provided tonight, and thank you again for coming.”

More applause, followed by the hubbub of conversation starting back up as Padmé moved to begin mingling. First she stopped to quickly say hello to Mon Mothma. “I can’t say how much I appreciate all your support for this bill,” said Mon after they’d exchanged a hug.

Padmé smiled at her. “Of course. We’ve been friends and each other’s political supporters for years. That’s not going to change anytime soon as far as I’m concerned.”

“Me neither,” Mon said with an answering smile. Then she waved a hand. “Everything looks wonderful.”

“Doesn’t it? The staff really outdid themselves.”

“The floral arrangements especially, they’re just beautiful.”

Floral arrangements. Eirtaé. Anakin. For the third time that day, Padmé was suddenly overcome with a wave of that nasty feeling that if she didn’t know better, she’d call jealousy. She hurriedly squashed it down and agreed with Mon before bidding her goodbye and moving on.

As she made small talk with Senator Bonteri, another old political friend, Padmé wondered…was she actually jealous of Eirtaé because she’d dated Anakin? No, of course not, that would be absolutely ridiculous. First of all, Anakin had said the relationship had been both several years ago and very brief. Second of all, why the hell did it even matter how long ago or how serious it was? Eirtaé could be Anakin’s damn wife for all Padmé had any reason to be jealous.

After Senator Bonteri had moved on, Padmé gave herself another silent rebuke for being so absurd and took a glass of champagne off a passing tray. She’d only taken two sips when a familiar voice was saying, “Hello, Padmé.”

Dammit. She slowly turned and plastered on a smile as she came face-to-face with Rush Clovis. “Hello, Rush,” she said. “Are you enjoying yourself so far?”

“Yes, very much,” Clovis said politely, though he was gazing at her with an intensity that made Padmé want to duck under the nearest table to avoid him. “How are you this evening?”

“Very well, thank you, and you?”

“Also well. It’s good to see you again, Padmé,” he added a bit more softly.

Padmé tried not to panic. “Likewise,” she replied, glancing around to try and find some means of escape and ignoring the logical part of her brain which was insisting she needed to secure his support for the bill before running off. “I would love to stay and catch up, but I’m afraid I should keep on doing the rounds. Lots of people to talk to tonight.”

“I understand,” Clovis said, to her relief. Until— “But I was hoping to speak to you privately. Surely you could spare just a few moments?”

Padmé would rather do literally anything but that. But on the other hand…two years ago he’d offered her his heart, and she’d stomped all over it and run out and never given him much of a chance to get any closure. If he wanted to talk for a few minutes, Padmé owed him that much. “I suppose that couldn’t hurt,” she said, forcing another smile. “But I don’t think we’ll be able to speak any more privately than we are right now. I doubt my security team would appreciate it if I vanished from the party without warning.” As Padmé spoke, she glanced over towards where Anakin was standing in the corner of the room, and indeed she thought she saw him glowering at Clovis, though when she looked back again a minute later his expression was indifferent.

Thankfully, Clovis nodded (albeit a little reluctantly) and was quiet for a second as Padmé looked at him expectantly. “How have you been?” he asked at last.

Padmé frowned at him, annoyed that he was stalling and wasting her valuable time. “I just told you I’m doing well,” she said, doing her best to keep impatience out of her tone.

“Yes, but I meant—I’m asking as your ex-boyfriend, not as a fellow politician,” he said bluntly, and she flushed.

“I’m doing well no matter who’s asking,” Padmé said a bit coolly.

“I’ve missed you, Padmé,” Clovis said, taking a step closer.

What was she supposed to say to that? She had missed him at first, but that was two years ago. She’d long since moved on and she’d hoped and assumed he’d done the same, but that was looking increasingly unlikely. “Rush, please, I really should be going—”

“We never got to talk about what happened,” he interrupted, taking another step towards her, and now he was much too close for comfort. “Between us.”

“Well, we did discuss it at the time,” Padmé said.

“You mean, you gave me a list of reasons why you wanted us to break up and left before I had much of a chance to argue.”

“You’re right, I didn’t give you much time to talk about how you felt,” she acknowledged. “And I’m sorry for that, I really am. But I was completely blindsided by the proposal, and I was uncomfortable and sad and I didn’t want to hurt you any more than I already had, so I walked out instead of staying to prolong our misery.”

“How were you blindsided?” Clovis asked incredulously. “We were together for three years. A marriage proposal at that point wasn’t exactly out of the blue.”

“It was to me.” Padmé thought about elaborating, saying she hadn’t gotten any sense that their relationship was headed in that direction, then decided that she shouldn’t have allowed this conversation to start in the first place and now it had gone on much too long. “I recognize I could’ve handled things more sensitively and I’m sorry that I didn’t, but you put me in a tough position and I reacted the only way I could think to at the time. But that was years ago and we’ve both moved on, so—”

“Have we?” Clovis said quietly, and her heart dropped into her stomach.

“Yes,” Padmé said firmly. “Please excuse me, there are many other people here waiting to talk to me.”

She’d only taken one step away when Clovis reached out and grabbed her arm. “Padmé, please,” he begged.

Padmé attempted to pull away, but he only tightened his grip. “Let go of me.”

“Please, just hear me out—”

“Rush—”

“Let go of the president, Senator Clovis.”

Both heads whipped around to find Anakin standing there, glaring down at Clovis from his greater height. “Anakin,” said Padmé, partly relieved at his intervention and partly annoyed that he thought she couldn’t handle herself with a desperate ex.

Clovis glared back at him. “The president and I were having a private conversation.”

“I won’t ask again,” Anakin said coldly. “Let go of her, Senator. Now. Or I’ll have you escorted out of the building.”

Scowling, Clovis dropped Padmé’s arm and nodded stiffly at her before turning away and pushing through the crowd towards the other side of the room. She quickly glanced around and noted in relief that no one seemed to be paying much attention to the scene; they must have done a decent job of keeping their voices down, at least.

“Thank you, but I had everything under control,” Padmé told Anakin.

“Really? That’s not what it looked like to me,” he said shortly, and Padmé couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow; Anakin had never before spoken to her with anything but politeness and friendliness. As a matter of fact, he looked far angrier than the situation warranted.

“We really were just talking, and I’m fine, I promise,” she said, trying for a soothing tone in hopes that that would ease his inexplicable anger. “Yes, he was being a little…assertive, but he’s harmless. There’s no cause for concern.”

Anakin pursed his lips. “Bitter exes are always a cause for concern, ma’am.”

“He’s not bitter, it’s been two years. I’m sure he’s long since over me.”

“Doubt it,” Anakin muttered.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

He flushed and avoided her eyes. “Nothing, I just meant…you seem like you’d be a hard person to get over, ma’am, that’s all.”

Padmé could only stare at him, and the longer she stared the redder he got. And then some strange impulse caused her to set her champagne glass down on a nearby table and hold out her hand and say, “Dance with me.”

Anakin finally looked back at her, his expression changing from embarrassed to baffled. “I’m sorry?”

“Dance with me,” Padmé repeated before she could lose her nerve.

“I’m, um, I-I’m not sure that would be appropriate, ma’am,” he stuttered, and God dammit why was he so cute when he was flustered?

“It’s appropriate if I say it is,” she said serenely. “And unless you can find me another dance partner in this room who is neither sixty years old nor my ex-boyfriend…”

“Obi-Wan.”

“Obi-Wan would never dance with me, you know how much he fusses about protocol.”

“Maybe I fuss about protocol too,” Anakin said, and the notion was so ridiculous that Padmé burst out laughing. A small smile grew on his own face as well, and then he reached out and took her offered hand.

A jolt of electricity shot through her at the contact, and Padmé abruptly realized that despite how closely they’d been working together throughout the past three months, this was the first time they’d physically touched. Her heart had inexplicably decided to speed up, and she tried to slow it down again as Anakin led her towards the center of the room, which was cleared of tables and filled with other couples dancing.

As soon as they arrived, the song ended and the band started up another one. And of course it just had to be a slow song. But before Padmé had the chance to curse the powers that be for tormenting her in such a cliché manner, Anakin was gingerly putting his hands on her waist (and looking as if he was afraid she was going to yell at him for doing so) and she was automatically resting hers on his shoulders, and oh, they were standing so close together now.

Padmé took a slow breath and told herself to calm down, for God’s sake. It was just Anakin, her bodyguard and friend. She had no reason whatsoever to be this shaken by dancing with him. Dancing with him more intimately than she’d danced with anyone since…Clovis, probably.

She didn’t know where to look. She couldn’t bring herself to look into Anakin’s eyes—especially since he was so damn tall—so she stared at his shoulders, which were roughly at her eyelevel. But then Padmé was noticing how broad his shoulders and chest were, and then she was wondering whether or not he was as good of a hugger as she imagined he would be, and then she was frantically asking herself why she was imagining what it would be like to hug him in the first place, and then she was glancing around the room for something, anything else to look at.

The Organas were dancing a few feet away, and Padmé made eye contact with Breha over Anakin’s and Bail’s shoulders. Breha gave her a knowing look and sly smile, and Padmé blushed and hastily looked somewhere else. Her gaze fell upon Clovis, who was standing at the edge of the dance floor and glaring at the back of Anakin’s head. That was even worse.

So then, finally, Padmé allowed herself to look up at Anakin, and her breath caught in her throat as she became aware of just how blue his eyes were. She’d never seen them so close up before. Anakin reddened a little as their eyes met, but then he gave her a shy smile which Padmé gratefully returned. Hopefully he wasn’t freaking out as much as she was. What was wrong with her? Why had she suggested this in the first place?

But then Anakin’s foot came stomping down on her toes, snapping Padmé out of her daze and making her wince. “Oh, I-I’m so sorry, ma’am,” Anakin said at once, looking mortified. “I’m a horrible dancer, I haven’t done this sort of thing very often—”

He was cut off as Padmé started to laugh. She didn’t know why everything had become so funny to her all of a sudden, but she was awkwardly slow dancing with her attractive bodyguard after arguing with her ex and he’d just stepped on her foot and now he was bright red and making stammered apologies, and she couldn’t stop laughing. Anakin looked bemused for a moment but then he tentatively started to smile, and his smile got wider and wider until he was laughing too.

They’d both abandoned any attempt to keep dancing at this point and were now standing in the middle of the dance floor still holding each other and laughing hysterically. Really, Anakin stepping on her foot didn’t deserve more than a few giggles; Padmé supposed it had just been much too long since she’d laughed like this with anyone and now she was letting it all out. Besides, Anakin’s laugh was ridiculously infectious.

They were starting to attract stares from the people nearby, but Padmé couldn’t have cared less. “I would’ve thought you’d be graceful,” she wheezed once she’d managed to catch her breath. “Because of all your combat training.”

“Hand-to-hand combat’s a lot different than ballroom dancing, ma’am,” Anakin said, and Padmé gave another most un-presidential snort of laughter.

The song ended a minute later, and Anakin led her off the dance floor and exchanged one last grin with her before returning to his post in the corner of the room. Padmé thought she saw Obi-Wan give him a disapproving look and lean in to say something, but Senator Burtoni came over to speak with her before she could watch the interaction any further.

Chapter Text

The rest of the gala passed much more enjoyably than the beginning, and a few hours later Anakin was walking Padmé back to her rooms (Obi-Wan and Ahsoka had stayed behind with the extra agents at the party to supervise the guests’ departure). “Well, that didn’t go as badly as I was afraid it would,” Padmé said happily. “We garnered a lot of support for the bill. And thanks for stepping on my feet, it really cheered me up to get through the rest of the night.”

Anakin laughed. “Glad to help, ma’am.”

Then one of Padmé’s heels snagged in the carpet and she lost her balance. Instinctively, she reached out to grab something to keep herself from falling. Something which happened to be Anakin. He moved to catch her at the same time, and suddenly Padmé found herself clutching his shoulders and pressed against his chest while his arms were wrapped around her waist to keep her upright. She looked up at him with wide eyes; his eyes were equally wide. And so very blue and pretty…Padmé’s gaze unconsciously flicked down to his lips, which were full and soft and—

“I knew it.”

Padmé immediately disentangled herself from Anakin’s arms and spun around to see Clovis standing at the end of the hallway. “Rush,” she said, willing away the blush on her cheeks. “What are you doing here? I thought everyone was on their way home.” She narrowed her eyes. “Did you follow me?”

Clovis ignored her and started walking towards them. “I knew it,” he repeated. “Knew there was something going on between you and him.”

“What? Me and Anakin?” Padmé asked in disbelief. “What are you talking about?”

“Oh, please. As if he’s not screwing you behind everyone’s backs.”

“Excuse me?” Padmé spluttered; she heard Anakin make a strangled noise beside her. “You must have had too much to drink, you should probably—”

“Everyone in that damn room could see it,” Clovis interrupted. “The way you were looking at each other like you were about two seconds from tearing each other’s clothes off—”

“Rush, that’s enough,” Padmé said sharply, face flaming. “Obviously there’s nothing going on between me and Anakin, so please stop it. You’re being rude and making both of us uncomfortable.”

“Obviously?” Clovis challenged. “Why is it obvious?”

“Because Anakin is my bodyguard, and the kind of relationship you’re describing would be inappropriate. Honestly, do you even hear how ridiculous you sound? Anakin could never be anything more than my bodyguard and friend, you must know that,” Padmé said. Anakin stiffened, and she threw him a confused look. “Isn’t that right, Anakin?”

“Yes, ma’am. Of course,” he said, though she could’ve sworn his neutral tone sounded a little forced.

Clovis shook his head. “I have to say, you could’ve picked better, Padmé. Much better.”

She snorted. “What, like you, you mean?”

“Well, at least I’m capable of holding an intelligent conversation with you.” Clovis gave Anakin a scornful look. “Does he know how to do anything but stand in corners and look threatening? Did he even go to college?”

Anakin tensed up even more, his carefully blank expression turning angry. Padmé glared at Clovis as well. “Of course he did, the Secret Service is one of the most selective organizations in the entire world. Not like Congress where you can just buy people’s votes,” she retorted, and Clovis scowled. “Do you have any idea how hard you have to work to be qualified for presidential protection detail? Anakin’s more skilled than you could ever hope to be, and he’s extremely intelligent. Just because he doesn’t feel the need to open his mouth and spew unwanted opinions at people every two seconds—”

“You mean the way you do?” Clovis said scathingly.

“You know what? Yes, the way I do. The way I dare to form my own opinions and voice them accordingly,” Padmé snapped. “You always hated that, didn’t you? Hated that we were political equals, hated that I was smarter than you and could kick your ass in any debate.”

Clovis scoffed. “You’re not smarter than me.”

“Really? Which one of us is sitting in the Oval Office right now, hmm?” She knew that was petty, but she just couldn’t help it.

“Well, if it was between a pretty young woman like you and that old geezer Palpatine, I’m not surprised you won,” Clovis said dismissively. “I’m sure the American people would much rather see your face on TV for the next four years.”

Padmé gaped at him, momentarily too angry for words. “Are you saying you think I got to where I am because of my looks?” she hissed. “After all the years of work, all the speeches and debates, all the hours I spent getting informed on every single issue, all the sleepless nights, all the times I nearly dropped dead from exhaustion, you’re standing here and dismissing all the—the superhuman effort I put in and saying I was elected president because I’m pretty?”

“Face it, Padmé, you’re smart, but not smart enough or old enough or qualified enough to be president. Not to mention way too naïve and idealistic,” Clovis added. “What else am I supposed to think except that you slept your way to the top?”

There was a deafening silence in which Padmé swore she could hear steam coming out of her own ears, and a split second later Anakin’s fist was colliding with Clovis’s nose. “Anakin!” Padmé gasped, temporarily snapping out of her rage to watch in astonishment as Clovis stumbled backwards, his hand flying up to his face.

“How dare you attack a senator?” Clovis said loudly, blood slowly seeping from between his fingers.

“How dare you treat the president so disrespectfully?” Anakin shot back, hands still clenched into fists. He towered intimidatingly over Clovis, and Padmé couldn’t help but feel satisfied at the way Clovis shrank away from him a little. “Get off the premises right now or else I’ll call my superior and tell him the president’s pathetic ex is causing trouble and ought to be taken into custody.”

The muscles in Clovis’s jaw worked for a second before he gave Padmé one more contemptuous look and said, “Teach your boytoy some manners, will you?” He turned around and stalked back down the hallway still clutching his nose, Anakin staring daggers into his back the whole way.

Padmé, meanwhile, was staring at Anakin. Thanks to a peaceful first three months in office, this was the first time she’d seen him react to a perceived threat against her. He looked almost scary. She was suddenly glad he was on her side; she’d never want to see that expression turned on her. “Anakin, as much as I appreciate the sentiment, that really wasn’t necessary,” Padmé said. “I wasn’t in any danger. You shouldn’t have punched him.”

Anakin turned back towards her, his face still murderous. “I couldn’t let him talk to you like that.”

“I thought you were supposed to defend me against physical harm, not verbal.” Padmé sighed and hesitantly placed a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry he was rude to you, he had no right to say those things. And as for what he said to me, that’s child’s play compared to what Palpatine and his supporters said about me during the election. And still do say. I’m used to it.”

She felt Anakin’s muscles relax a little under her hand, and she let go of him and took a step back again. “You’re right. I shouldn’t have lost my temper,” he mumbled. “It was just…I couldn’t stand listening to him insult your intelligence and your integrity and your dedication to your work, not when those are some of the things I admire most about you.”

Padmé’s heart skipped a beat. “You…admire me?”

Anakin blinked at her in surprise. “Of course I do,” he said, tone suggesting it should have been obvious. “More than anyone.”

Did that mean he admired her more than he admired anyone else, or he admired her more than anyone else admired her? Did it even matter which one it was? “Oh,” Padmé said, feeling oddly close to tears. “Th-thank you. That’s very…that means a lot to me, Anakin. Thank you.”

He nodded awkwardly, but the small smile on his face was genuine. “I’m sorry for punching Senator Clovis, ma’am,” he said.

“Between you and me, I probably would’ve done it if you hadn’t beaten me to it,” Padmé admitted, and they both chuckled. “I just hope he doesn’t try to get you in trouble.”

Anakin shrugged carelessly. “I doubt he will, he’s probably too embarrassed. But if he does I’ll say it was in defense of you.”

“He wasn’t physically threatening me.”

“Then I’ll say I sensed an approaching threat and proactively took care of it.”

Padmé shook her head, though she was unable to hide a smile. They arrived back at her rooms a minute later, and she started taking off her jewelry and makeup as Anakin made sure everything was secure. “All set, ma’am,” he said upon returning. Then he looked at her closely. “Are you sure you’re all right?”

Padmé frowned. She’d been mulling over Clovis’s words for several minutes and they were starting to get to her despite her best efforts not to let them; after all, he was echoing opinions Padmé had heard thousands of times ever since the nation had been faced with the prospect of the youngest president ever elected. “Maybe Clovis was right,” she said in a small voice. “Maybe I’m not smart or qualified enough to be president.”

“He’s not right, he’s an idiot. You’re the smartest person I’ve ever known, ma’am,” Anakin said softly, and warmth bubbled in Padmé’s chest. “And if you’re not qualified to be president, no one is.”

“Thank you,” Padmé said, feeling oddly shy all of a sudden. “And I’m sorry about the other bit of what he was saying, about us…you know.”

Anakin turned a violent shade of red, and Padmé was pretty sure her face mirrored his. “That’s all right, ma’am, it wasn’t your fault. I’m sure he was just angry you rejected him earlier at the party and he was trying to be spiteful.”

“Exactly,” Padmé said, seizing upon his reasoning with relief. “He was just looking for an excuse to be jealous, even if it meant seeing things that clearly weren’t there. I mean, the thought of us together is ludicrous, isn’t it?”

Anakin laughed, though it didn’t quite seem to reach his eyes. “Definitely, ma’am. Totally implausible.”


Totally implausible, Anakin sternly repeated to himself as he left her room. If he even needed yet another reason to nip his attraction in the bud, President Amidala’s repeated references that night to the absurdity of anything happening between them would certainly do the trick.

Or at least, it should have done the trick. But in reality, Anakin was pretty sure he was in even deeper now than he had been before. The way she’d seemed so genuinely surprised and humbled when he’d said he admired her, as if she had no idea she was the most incredible person on the entire planet. And he’d spent all the hours of the party watching her float amongst the guests, sometimes chatting and laughing and sometimes engaged in serious intellectual discussions. She was just so beautiful no matter what she was doing. It was terribly unfair.

And of course, there was the dance they’d shared. Standing so close to her, being in physical contact with her, her face inches away from his own…Anakin felt it was a miracle he hadn’t passed out. Of course he’d had to go and ruin the moment by stomping on her foot like the clumsy idiot he was. Then again, for some reason President Amidala had found it hysterical, and a small smile graced Anakin’s face once again as he recalled the warm bubbly feeling he’d had in his chest as they’d laughed together in the middle of the dance floor.

Yes, he truly was in deep. This was bad. Very bad.

“Anakin.”

Anakin started out of his reverie and saw Obi-Wan approaching. “Hey,” he said. “All the guests gone?”

“Nearly. Ahsoka and the others are waiting for the last few to leave.” Then Obi-Wan said rather suspiciously, “On my way up here I passed Senator Clovis with what looked like a broken nose. You wouldn’t happen to know what happened, would you?”

Anakin shrugged innocently, but Obi-Wan continued giving him a piercing look for so long that finally he sighed and said, “All right, I punched him.”

“You what?”

“He was being extremely rude to the president. If you’d been here and heard what he was saying…” Anakin shook his head; Clovis’s words were still making his blood boil.

“Rudeness doesn’t warrant physical violence, Anakin,” Obi-Wan said in a tone of utter exasperation.

“Well, he’s her ex and she said the breakup was pretty ugly, and they’d already had an altercation during the party, so I figured it was better to be safe than sorry and I intervened before things could escalate any further.”

“You’d better hope he doesn’t tell anyone about it. I doubt Mace would be thrilled to hear you punched a senator,” Obi-Wan said, pursing his lips. “And what’s this about the president telling you all the details of her personal life?”

“It wasn’t all the details, she just mentioned she wasn’t looking forward to seeing Clovis at the party and briefly explained to me what had happened between them,” Anakin said defensively. “Really, I should know the situation for security reasons and all that.”

Obi-Wan looked unconvinced. “I realize President Amidala is much laxer about protocol and formalities than President Valorum was, but that still doesn’t mean it’s all right for us to go around chitchatting with her all the time. Our job is to protect her, not be friends with her,” he chided.

Anakin groaned in annoyance; Obi-Wan had given him a similar lecture mere hours earlier after he’d danced with President Amidala. “Why can’t we protect her and be friends with her? She said herself she’d be more comfortable if we were on friendly terms with her than if we just lurked in the background and refused to talk to her. And you seemed happy enough to tell her all about Ahsoka and Senator Chuchi and me and Eirtaé earlier.”

“Yes, well, I was caught off guard by you and Ahsoka talking about me and Satine, and you’re right, my continuing the conversation wasn’t appropriate,” Obi-Wan acknowledged, once again turning a little pink. “Being on friendly terms with her is all well and good, but not if it means distracting her from her work and wasting her time. And getting too close to her could compromise your ability to do your job.”

“I don’t see how,” Anakin said stubbornly.

“Take tonight, for example. You punched a respected senator in the nose because you were upset he’d insulted the president,” Obi-Wan reminded him. “If you weren’t so emotionally invested, if you’d stayed distant and detached the way you’re supposed to, that wouldn’t have happened.”

Anakin scowled at him, annoyance doubling as he realized he couldn’t actually think of any way to contradict that point. He decided to try a different tack. “Look, I know you’re used to scolding me because you spent eight years as the head of President Valorum’s security team and I was new to presidential protection detail then, but that’s not the case anymore. I’m in charge now and you report to me, so you can’t tell me what to do,” Anakin said rather childishly.

“That’s true, but I still have more years of experience and it’s my duty to continue to ‘scold’ you if I think you’re doing anything that might jeopardize the president’s safety,” Obi-Wan said calmly.

“Me being friends with her doesn’t jeopardize her safety!”

“Not yet. But who’s to say you won’t someday be in a situation where you let your emotions get the better of you and she’s harmed as a result?”

“That won’t happen.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I do,” Anakin snapped. “Anyway, my shift’s over and I’m tired, so goodnight.”

And he turned and marched down the hall before Obi-Wan could get another word in, silently fuming. If Anakin was being honest with himself, Obi-Wan’s presence on President Amidala’s security team made him feel more than a little insecure. All the other agents were either first-timers (like Ahsoka) or had been Anakin’s equals on Valorum’s detail; Obi-Wan was the only one who had been Anakin’s superior before and was now under him. Mace usually put a different person in charge every four years at the start of a new term even if the former head was still on the team in order to avoid burnout as much as possible.

So that policy led to the current situation: Anakin being in charge of Obi-Wan after four years in which it had been the opposite, and both of them frequently forgetting that their roles had reversed. Obi-Wan’s disapproval stung so much more now than it had before, not to mention it was galling to be lectured by someone who was supposed to be his subordinate. At least Obi-Wan had the tact to only do so when no one else was around. Anakin didn’t even want to imagine how humiliating it would be for Obi-Wan to tell him off in front of the rest of the team. Or, God forbid, in front of President Amidala.

That directed Anakin’s train of thought back to what Obi-Wan had actually been saying, that he was too close to her. Anakin had a moment of panic as he wondered if Obi-Wan had somehow detected his (idiotic, inappropriate, soon-to-be-over) crush, but he reassured himself with the thought that if Obi-Wan suspected anything, he surely wouldn’t fail to directly confront Anakin about it.

No, Anakin’s secret was probably still safe. But he seriously needed to figure out a way to stop this stupid, stupid crush before it got any worse. Or before anyone found out.

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe the bill didn’t pass,” Padmé said for the dozenth time in the half hour Bail had been in her office. “And it was only by one vote. Three guesses who it was.”

“We can’t know for sure that Clovis was the deciding vote,” Bail reassured her. “It could’ve been any of the senators who voted against.”

“Yes, except that if he wasn’t angry with me, he might have voted for instead and it would’ve passed.”

“We can always try again and put forward a similar bill later. Don’t beat yourself up over it,” Bail said sympathetically. “Besides, it sounds to me like Clovis being angry was more Anakin’s fault than yours.”

“Don’t blame him, he was just defending me,” Padmé said at once, her own tone so defensive that Bail raised an eyebrow. She turned a little pink and quickly added, “I mean, even if Anakin hadn’t been involved, I’m sure Clovis would’ve been just as upset with me for rejecting his advances. And for breaking up with him in the first place.”

“Still, I doubt Anakin punching him in the nose exactly helped the situation,” Bail said, the corners of his mouth quirking up slightly. “But I have to admit, I wish I’d been there to see the look on Clovis’s face.”

“It was pretty priceless,” Padmé agreed, and they both snickered. Bail was one of the few people she’d confided the Clovis incident to, though she hadn’t told even him about Clovis’s accusations that there was something going on between her and Anakin. For some reason, she preferred to keep that to herself.

Just then there was a knock on the door and Sabé popped her head in. “The Finance Committee’s waiting for you in the Roosevelt Room, ma’am,” she said.

Padmé sighed. Now that some time had passed since her budget proposal, she had to meet with the Finance Committee again and discuss proposed changes with them in more detail. She was not looking forward to it.

“I have to head back to my office anyway, I’m expecting a phone call in ten minutes,” Bail said, checking his watch. “Good luck in there.”

“Thanks,” Padmé said glumly. They parted ways once they left her office, and Anakin, Aayla Secura, and Plo Koon fell into step behind Padmé and Sabé, having been waiting out in the hallway during Padmé’s meeting with Bail. Aayla and Plo remained outside again as Anakin followed her into the meeting room. He positioned himself in the corner of the room while Padmé exchanged greetings with the Finance Committee and took her seat at the table.

Then Padmé realized she’d left her budget files in her office. She beckoned Sabé over as the senators resettled themselves in their own chairs. “Sabé, could you run back to my office and grab the two binders on top of my desk, please?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Sabé said, and she hurried out.

“Ma’am, you might have noticed we have one new member who wasn’t here last time,” said Dooku. “Senator Clovis joined us just last week. I believe you’re acquainted?”

A figure at the far end of the table sat forward a little, and Padmé’s stomach twisted as his face came into view and she saw that it was indeed Clovis. “Yes, of course. Welcome, Senator Clovis,” she said politely, but her mind was racing. Maybe it was just a coincidence…or maybe Clovis had somehow gotten himself a position on one of the most powerful Senate committees alongside some of Padmé’s greatest political opponents in order to make her life miserable as payback for the fiasco at the gala.

She tried to push that thought aside—surely it was just a coincidence—and focus on the present as Palpatine began speaking. “Now, the first matter we want to discuss with you is changes in spending on education,” he said. “Most of us believe that you’ve allotted far too much funding for several items in this category, particularly free lunch programs.”

Padmé sat up a little straighter, mentally preparing for a fight. “I’m sorry to hear that. Why do you think it’s too much?”

“Well, it’s a drastic increase from President Valorum’s allotment last year, and frankly, it isn’t necessary,” Clovis said. “Free and reduced lunch programs had perfectly adequate funding last year without your proposed increase. In fact, we think it would be prudent to actually decrease last year’s funding.”

“Decrease?” Padmé repeated, frowning. “I beg to differ, Senator Clovis. Last year’s funding was not sufficient, there have been complaints about that from dozens and dozens of school districts all over the country, especially those in major cities. They need more funding to provide for students who can’t afford to buy lunch every day.”

“Public school lunches only cost a few dollars,” Palpatine said dismissively. “They’re perfectly affordable. Senator Clovis is right, extra funding isn’t necessary.”

“A few dollars every day multiplied by one hundred eighty days of school adds up to quite a lot of money that many low income families don’t have,” Padmé said in clipped tones. “So no, public school lunches are not affordable for everyone.”

“Then the students can bring lunch from home.”

“If they can’t afford to buy lunch at school, how would they be able to afford to buy food at the grocery store and bring it to school?” Padmé asked impatiently. “There are millions of families in this country who depend on their children being fed at school, millions of children whose only square meal every day is the free lunch provided to them at school. We need to increase funding so that we can feed more students, not fewer.”

Palpatine shook his head. “With all due respect, ma’am, increasing funding will only make the problem worse. The more you give things out to people for free, the less inclined they’ll be to work. If a family can’t afford to spend a few dollars on school lunch every day, chances are they only have themselves to blame for being reckless with their money.”

For a moment, Padmé could only stare at him in disbelief. Then, for some reason, she glanced over to the corner where Anakin was standing and saw that his jaw was clenched and his eyes crackling with rage. Padmé couldn’t blame him for being furious, but the last thing anyone needed was for him to cause a scene like he had with Clovis, so she shot him a warning look before returning her attention to Palpatine. “Let me make sure I’m understanding you correctly, Senator,” she said with no small amount of sarcasm. “You’re saying that every underprivileged person in this country is at fault for their poverty and that instead of trying to help them, we should turn our noses up at them in a delusional attempt to force them to help themselves?”

“I wouldn’t put it quite so bluntly, ma’am,” Palpatine replied.

“But you’re not denying that that’s essentially what you mean?” Padmé pressed. “Has it occurred to you that if it was at all possible for these people to help themselves and improve their financial statuses without government assistance, they would have already done so?”

“Madam President, this is America, land of equal opportunity,” said Palpatine. “Everyone can succeed if they try hard enough, and if they don’t succeed, that only means they aren’t putting in the same effort as the rest of us.”

Padmé really thought her head was going to explode, she really, truly did. Luckily, at that moment there was a brief interruption as Sabé returned with the files Padmé had requested, two large binders full of documents. Anakin met her at the door and took them from her, then moved towards Padmé’s end of the table. He dropped them loudly and unceremoniously beside her place—and right onto Palpatine’s hand, which was resting on the table.

Palpatine hissed in pain and hurriedly yanked his hand out from under the binders, turning to glare at Anakin. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Senator, I didn’t see you there,” Anakin said, looking totally unapologetic. Padmé was forced to stifle a laugh. Once Anakin was back in his corner and the meeting had resumed, she chanced a glance over and met his eyes. She gave him a small smile, which he returned, and then she quickly ducked her head and began consulting the contents of the first binder, her mood ever so slightly improved.

Unfortunately, that mood improvement lasted about ten seconds until Palpatine opened his mouth again, and the rest of the meeting passed unpleasantly. “Not proven to have any educational benefit,” Padmé seethed on the way back to her office just before lunch. “Who cares if providing free lunches has any educational benefit? Is wanting to feed children in need not enough of a motive for them? I swear to God—”

“I don’t know how you can stand to put up with them, ma’am,” Anakin said, following her into her office and proceeding to do a cursory check of the room. “I mean, not that it’s my place to say—”

“Oh, they’re a bunch of heartless, selfish assholes,” Padmé said bluntly. “And I won’t be at all offended if you say so. As long as you don’t say it to their faces. That might cause some problems.”

Anakin cracked a smile, but it was gone just as quickly. Padmé studied him closely; as infuriating as the meeting had been for her, she knew it must have been a thousand times worse for Anakin to hear Palpatine and the others talking as if his and his mother’s poverty in his childhood was their own fault, as if they were a burden on the economy, as if they deserved it. “Are you all right?” she ventured. “I’m sorry you had to hear all that, I wouldn’t have had you stay if I’d realized they were going to be this awful.”

“No, I wouldn’t have wanted to leave you alone with them. I don’t trust them, to be honest,” Anakin said. Then he pursed his lips. “It’s just…well, I’m not supposed to talk about politics with you, ma’am.”

“That’s true. But there’s technically no rule against you, say, sharing a personal anecdote from your past, is there?”

“All right, then, I’ll share a personal anecdote from my past,” Anakin said with another small smile. “What you said in there about families who depend on their children being fed in school…that was my family when I was a kid. Summer was always the hardest time of year for us because my mom had to scramble to find enough money to feed both of us every day. I remember she’d go hungry sometimes so that I’d have enough to eat.” He swallowed and looked down, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “I don’t know what we would’ve done if I didn’t get those one hundred eighty free lunches every year. And the thought that a bunch of old rich dudes want to take that away, want to take away something that keeps young kids from starving…”

He glanced back up, and Padmé’s heart ached as she saw that there were tears in his eyes. “It’s despicable,” she said quietly. “They’re despicable. I swear to you, I will do everything in my power to prevent Congress from cutting funding.”

Anakin gave her a watery smile, and before Padmé could think twice about it she reached out and pulled him in for a hug. She felt him stiffen in surprise, but after a few moments he relaxed into the embrace and tentatively wrapped his own arms around her, resting his forehead on her shoulder.

“Good afternoon, ma’am, I—oh.”

Startled, Padmé immediately let go of Anakin and took a hasty step back. She turned and saw that Obi-Wan had entered and was raising his eyebrows at them, and she felt her cheeks heat up. “Obi-Wan, hello,” she said awkwardly. “I’m sorry, I was just, um—Anakin was—well, it’s been a long day. What were you saying?”

Anakin was quickly wiping his eyes, which Padmé fervently hoped Obi-Wan would notice and thereby draw the conclusion that he’d been upset and Padmé was just comforting him. “My shift just started and I was looking for Anakin to discuss something with him, and Sabé told me he was in here and asked me to tell you that lunch is ready whenever you are, ma’am,” Obi-Wan told her, still wearing a rather judgmental expression.

“Great, thank you,” Padmé said. “I’ll be there in a minute.”

Obi-Wan turned to go, and Anakin looked back to give her one last shy smile before following him. Padmé let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and flopped down onto the sofa, putting her face in her hands. She needed to compose herself before going back out there. But what the hell for? Why was she un-composed in the first place? All she’d done was hug Anakin, for God’s sake, it shouldn’t be this big of a deal. It wasn’t this big of a deal. Padmé was just in a weird mood after the horrendous meeting with the Finance Committee, that was all.

That excuse worked for the rest of that day and maybe for the next few days too, but as the weeks passed and Padmé found herself increasingly flustered by Anakin, by his smiles and his laughter and his voice and his eyes and his mere presence, she was harder and harder pressed to come up with an explanation. What was wrong with her? Could it be that—no, definitely not. That would be so wrong. And impossible. As if she and Anakin could ever—Padmé wouldn’t even entertain the thought, it was so ridiculous.

But then why did she have so much trouble shaking him from her thoughts every night as she was trying to fall asleep?

Padmé did her best to put it out of her mind, and in mid-May, something miraculous happened: she found herself with an entire three hours free before bed. “I think I’m going to hit the gym,” she told Anakin, Quinlan Vos, and Kit Fisto as they accompanied her back to her room.

Quinlan laughed. “You finally have some free time and your first thought is to hit the gym? I can see how you got to be president, ma’am.”

“Actually, my first thought was to take a long bath, watch some TV, and go to bed early, but my conscience got the better of me,” Padmé said wryly, eliciting some more chuckles from the others. In all honesty, she didn’t love working out—her usual routine was to go on the treadmill for an hour and call it a day—but she’d hardly done anything that could be considered exercise in the nearly four months she’d been president, so she really felt like she should make an attempt now that she finally had the time.

“You know, I haven’t gone for a few days,” Anakin said next. “Mind if I join you, ma’am? We can be workout buddies.”

Padmé looked at his strong physique, mentally compared it to her own slight build, and raised her eyebrows. “Sure. You can lift me instead of the weights because otherwise there’s no way I’ll be able to keep up with you.”

Grinning, Anakin followed her into her room and checked to make sure everything was secure before saying, “I’ll meet you up there in ten minutes” and leaving again. Padmé’s usual workout clothes were more along the lines of sweatpants and T-shirts, but for some reason, the fact that Anakin was coming with her made her choose a sports bra and a pair of tight leggings. She quickly threw her hair into a ponytail, then went back outside to rejoin Quinlan and Kit.

Anakin’s room and the gym were both upstairs and he was already there when the others arrived, though Quinlan and Kit remained outside in the hallway. Anakin was in the middle of stretching when Padmé walked in, and her mouth went a little dry as she saw that he was wearing athletic shorts and a fitted T-shirt that allowed her to see exactly how broad his chest was and how muscular his arms were. This was the first time she’d seen him in anything other than a suit, and shit he looked good.

Anakin looked up at her entrance, and was it her imagination or did his gaze linger slightly on her bare midriff before raising to meet her eyes? But then he gave her an easy grin and said, “What’s your routine for today, ma’am?”

Padmé shrugged. “I don’t know. I was just going to run on the treadmill for a little while, I guess.”

“Fair enough.”

She joined him in stretching for a bit before getting on the treadmill. It was right in front of a mirror, which allowed her to sneakily watch Anakin as he worked out. Not that she was doing it on purpose, of course. It was hardly her fault that just by looking straight ahead she could see his reflection doing pushups behind her. How was he doing so many pushups in a row? Padmé could do about five before her arms gave out.

She moved from a speedwalk to a light jog, and Anakin went from pushups to pullups. Good Lord, his arms. Padmé couldn’t tear her eyes away from them in the mirror, watching in fascination as his muscles flexed with every pullup. A small part of her brain slyly whispered that it wished he’d take his shirt off so she could see his abdominal muscles flexing too…

Jog to run for Padmé, pullups to weightlifting for Anakin. They were both hot and sweaty now, though Padmé wasn’t sure if hers was from exercise or from watching Anakin. She probably looked disheveled and disgusting and embarrassingly out of shape, whereas Anakin unfairly was somehow even more attractive with his face all red and his hair tangled and damp and his skin glistening with perspiration.

The sly part of Padmé’s mind started thinking that if he looked this good while working out, he probably looked even better while doing…other physical activities. Before she could stop herself, the sly part had infected her imagination and she was conjuring up a vivid mental image of Anakin kissing her roughly and tangling his hands in her hair and pushing her down onto a bed and kneeling over her and grabbing her hips and pulling her towards him and—

Padmé gasped and stumbled slightly, and a second later she’d lost her balance completely and was lying face-down on the treadmill and groaning.

“Ma’am, are you all right?”

She heard hurried footsteps and, upon reluctantly rolling over onto her back, saw that Anakin had come over and turned the treadmill off and was now crouching down beside her, looking concerned. “I’m fine. I just, uh, I just tripped,” she mumbled, mortified both at having fallen on the treadmill in front of him and at the thoughts her traitorous brain had been having that had caused her to fall in the first place.

Anakin looked like he was torn between sympathy and amusement, and he reached out to help her up. He took her hand, and his other hand came to rest on the small of her back, which was bare thanks to the outfit she’d chosen. (Seriously? A sports bra? What had she been thinking?) The skin-on-skin contact combined with the borderline pornographic scenario she still hadn’t managed to scrub from her mind was making Padmé’s heart race and cheeks burn, and she hastily got to her feet and dropped Anakin’s hand and took a small step away from him. As she dusted herself off with as much dignity as she could muster, she heard Anakin clear his throat and, upon chancing a glance at him, saw that his face was a little pink too.

“Well, I think I’m going to call it a night,” Padmé said after a few seconds of awkward silence. “Feel free to keep going, though, I can just have the others walk me back.”

“I don’t mind,” Anakin said quickly. A little too quickly? “I was starting to wrap up anyway. But we should stretch some more to cool down first.”

Yes, Padmé definitely needed to cool down. She followed his lead as he went through a brief series of stretches, and then the two of them rejoined Quinlan and Kit and headed back downstairs. Padmé waited as Anakin did one last quick check of her room, and then she bid him goodnight, stripped off her sweaty gym clothes, and hopped into the shower.

She sighed contentedly as the hot water beat down on her, feeling her muscles start to relax. She knew she was going to be sore in the morning, though; it really had been a long time since she’d last exercised. But that wasn’t the most pressing issue at the moment. That distinction belonged to the fact that she’d just accidentally had a sex fantasy about Anakin. If it had just been a dream that would’ve been one thing because she could’ve dismissed it as no more than the strange work of her subconscious, but no, Padmé had been fully awake and in control of her thoughts.

So then what on earth had prompted it? Her initial excuse was that she probably just had a lot of pent-up sexual energy as of late, a combination of the stressful, hectic nature of her life for the past several months and the fact that she hadn’t slept with anyone since breaking up with Clovis two years ago. Yes, Padmé was sexually frustrated and had ended up accidentally projecting that onto the (very good-looking) person who’d been by her side nearly every day of her presidency. Surely that was all it was.

And yet, now that she was directly asking herself if she was attracted to Anakin rather than skirting around the issue as she had been for weeks (if not longer), Padmé realized…she couldn’t actually say no. She’d always thought he was good-looking—anyone with eyes could see that—but had that objective observation somehow turned into genuine attraction? If so, when had it happened? And how had she let it happen? She was smarter than that. Padmé had known when she’d won the election that she’d probably have to forego romance altogether during her time in office; already being in a relationship upon becoming president was one thing, but starting a new relationship now that the entire nation, the entire world was watching her every move was a horrible idea. Add in a crush on her personal bodyguard and Padmé had a full-blown scandal on her hands.

Everyone was off-limits to her while she was president, and Anakin was even more off-limits than the average person. Possibly the most off-limits out of anyone she could’ve fallen for. Padmé huffed crossly as she rinsed her hair. Of course she’d had to go and fall for the most off-limits person instead of just a somewhat off-limits person; she never did things by halves. It was like she was back in her rebellious teenage phase. Except Padmé had never actually had a rebellious teenage phase. Maybe it was finally starting up now, twenty years later than it should have.

She took a deep breath and willed her rapidly derailing train of thought to slow down. She wasn’t even sure she had feelings for Anakin, anyway. No point getting worked up before she’d confirmed one way or the other. This sudden explosion of stress could all be for nothing.

At least, that’s what she had to tell herself in order to calm her mind enough for sleep. But the truth was, Padmé knew deep down that she did have feelings for him. Feelings that had existed for quite some time now but which she’d repeatedly swept under the rug until her brain had decided to throw a sex fantasy in her face and force her to confront the issue outright. Yes, she really didn’t do things by halves.

And sure enough, when she woke the next morning and unconsciously took even more care than usual in her appearance and went out into the hall and felt butterflies in her stomach upon seeing Anakin and blushed when he smiled at her, Padmé couldn’t deny the truth any longer. She had feelings for him.

What the hell was she going to do?

Chapter Text

As the weeks passed, Anakin couldn’t shake the feeling that President Amidala was acting differently around him, almost as if he made her…nervous. A stab of uneasiness hit him as he wondered if it was possible she’d found out how he felt about her and now being near him made her uncomfortable. But no, surely that was impossible; she couldn’t have heard it from someone else because Anakin hadn’t breathed a word about it to anyone, and he’d been doing his best to hide his feelings so she wouldn’t notice. Therefore—unless his best wasn’t good enough—President Amidala probably still had no idea he liked her. And, ideally, would continue to have no idea for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, Anakin’s plan to get over her as soon as possible had been entirely unsuccessful thus far. His brain kept yelling that having a crush on the president of the United States was something he absolutely could not do, but his heart just wouldn’t listen. And so he’d resigned himself to stewing in his feelings for the foreseeable future, though hopefully a total lack of reciprocation on President Amidala’s part would do the trick in putting a stop to his crush. Preferably soon.

One evening in early June found Anakin checking her bedroom and trying very, very hard not to think about the fact that she was currently in the shower on the other side of the wall (she’d claimed to be exhausted and had asked him to check the bathroom first so she could shower and start getting ready for bed as soon as possible). Just as he finished he heard the shower turn off, and he stood there for a moment deliberating about whether he should call to her that everything was all set or just go.

Anakin had just decided to leave without saying anything when he heard a shriek from the bathroom. He immediately drew his gun and burst through the door, head whipping back and forth as he looked for the attacker.

But there was no attacker in sight, only President Amidala, who yelped and clutched her towel tighter. “Anakin!”

“Oh! I—ma’am, I-I’m so sorry,” Anakin stammered, feeling his face flame as he determinedly averted his eyes and tried to look anywhere but at her. “I—I heard you scream and I thought you were in danger.” As he spoke he realized how foolish that must sound; he’d been in the bathroom himself ten minutes ago and had clearly seen that there wasn’t a soul in there, and there was no way for anyone to have gotten in in the meantime.

“Oh, no, I’m fine,” President Amidala said quickly, sounding embarrassed. “I just saw a spider when I got out of the shower and it startled me, that’s all.”

Anakin looked where she was pointing and let out a small yelp of his own as he saw that there was indeed a rather large spider lurking in the corner. He hated spiders. He took a slight step back, then glanced at his gun. “I guess this is kind of overkill for a spider,” he said wryly before stowing it back in its holster, and President Amidala laughed. “Please tell me you don’t need me to take care of that for you, ma’am, because with all due respect I’d really rather not.”

“You’re afraid of spiders?” President Amidala said, sounding amused.

Anakin finally glanced back over at her; the towel was still fully covering her, but his cheeks heated up a little bit again nonetheless. For her part, she seemed to have momentarily forgotten her embarrassment and was now grinning at him. “They just look creepy, all right?” he said defensively. “No living thing should have that many legs.”

“Ah, I see. So you’re also scared of octopuses and squids? Oh man, what about centipedes and millipedes? Those must absolutely terrify you.”

“Very funny,” Anakin grumbled.

“I’m sorry, but the fact that my bodyguard, who busted in here with his gun drawn to confront an assassin without a second thought, is scared of spiders is pretty hilarious,” President Amidala said, still snickering.

“That’s why I’m a Secret Service agent and not an exterminator.”

She laughed even louder at that and unthinkingly made as if to drop her arms, but the towel started slipping and she immediately grabbed it once more to keep it in place, which set off both of their blushes yet again. “Um, anyway,” Anakin said, coughing slightly. “If you don’t need anything I guess I’ll just head out now.”

“Okay. Sorry for the false alarm.”

“That’s all right.”

President Amidala smiled at him, embarrassed but sincere. “Goodnight, Anakin.”

Anakin smiled back. “Goodnight, ma’am.”

As he walked back to his room he tried frantically to scrub the image of President Amidala in nothing but a towel from his mind, but it was stuck in there just as stubbornly as the image of her wearing tight exercise clothes. Why did the universe hate him so much?

Anakin and the rest of the team were soon informed of President Amidala’s plans to spend the last weekend of June with her family in Martha’s Vineyard for her birthday. Anakin knew she was from Massachusetts, and she admitted to him—rather embarrassedly, he thought—that her family had had a summer house in Martha’s Vineyard since she was a child. He didn’t know why she bothered being embarrassed about it; it wasn’t like he was unaware she came from a wealthy background. Although sometimes the difference in their upbringings struck him particularly hard, like it did when he pictured her spending summers frolicking on the beach in front of her family’s second house while he’d spent every day in the public library from the minute it opened to the minute it closed because the alternative was staying home in the scorching desert heat when they couldn’t afford air conditioning.

Regardless, Anakin was looking forward to getting a bit of a break for a few days. Not that he’d be off-duty, of course, but protecting President Amidala while she was relaxing with her family was probably going to be much more enjoyable than protecting her while she was meeting with politicians and attending formal functions. He was also interested in seeing what her family was like; she talked about them often but Anakin hadn’t actually seen them in person since her inauguration, and even then it had only been from afar.

“You must be excited to see your family this weekend, ma’am,” he said a few days before they were to leave.

“Yes, very,” President Amidala replied, smiling. “I’m glad we were finally able to make it work. They’ve been bugging me about coming to visit for months.”

“I’m surprised they haven’t been here to see you yet,” Anakin remarked.

“Oh, they’ve tried, but of course whenever they were all free I was swamped and told them not to bother coming since I wouldn’t be able to spend much time with them,” she said with a little laugh. “Honestly, I almost said I couldn’t make it this time, but ‘it’s your birthday, Padmé, surely you can afford to take a few days off and leave Bail to hold down the fort.’”

Anakin laughed at her imitation of her parents, and then he said, “I agree with them, you definitely deserve a break, ma’am. I’m looking forward to a weekend free of meetings, and I’m not even the one who has to actively participate in them.”

President Amidala chuckled too. She paused for a moment, then said casually, “I was actually thinking, you’ve been working really hard too and if you wanted to take the weekend off and stay here, I’m sure I could arrange it with Mace.”

Anakin’s heart sank. Did she not want him to come? They did spend an awful lot of time together…maybe she was getting sick of him. The thought hurt more than he cared to admit. “I’m happy to come along, ma’am,” he said a little uncertainly. “Unless you’d rather I didn’t—”

“No! No, I’d love for you to come,” President Amidala said at once, sounding so sincere that Anakin breathed a silent sigh of relief. “It’s just, you work about as many hours as I do most days and I feel bad that I’m getting a vacation and you aren’t.”

“That’s all right, ma’am. A change of scenery will be vacation enough for me,” Anakin said, truthfully. In his mind, having to work during the whole trip was worth it if it meant he also got to spend all of that time with her.

President Amidala smiled brightly, and his heart skipped a beat. “Well, in that case I hope you like the beach.”


Anakin had very mixed feelings about the beach—the sand reminded him unpleasantly of Arizona, but the ocean was delightful to someone who’d grown up in the desert—but nevertheless he was in high spirits when they arrived at the Naberries’ beach house on Friday morning. They’d hardly stepped out of the car when the front door was bursting open and two little figures were zipping across the yard and shrieking, “Auntie Padmé!”

President Amidala beamed and knelt down in preparation, catching the girls when they threw themselves into her arms. “There’s my two favorite nieces,” she said, giving them each a kiss on the cheek.

The older one giggled. “We’re your only nieces, Auntie Padmé.”

“Then it’s a good thing you’re my favorites, isn’t it?”

Only when Obi-Wan looked askance at him did Anakin realize he was smiling fondly at the scene, and he quickly schooled his features into a neutral expression. It wasn’t his fault President Amidala’s nieces were so adorable. Or that she was so adorable with them.

The rest of President Amidala’s family was close behind the girls, and she made introductions all around: her mother Jobal, father Ruwee, older sister Sola, brother-in-law Darred, and her nieces Ryoo and Pooja, who were six and four years old respectively. Anakin figured he’d have an easy enough time keeping track of all those names; on the other hand, the Naberries’ eyes glazed over a little as President Amidala rattled off the names of all the staff she’d brought with her.

“—and this is Anakin Skywalker, the head of my security team,” she finished, gesturing to Anakin, who inclined his head politely.

“So this is the famous Anakin,” Sola said.

Anakin blinked at her in confusion. So did President Amidala. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“Well, you only talk about him all the time.”

President Amidala flushed, and Anakin did his best to hide a grin as his stomach did backflips. “I spend a lot of time with him, so I’m not surprised I’ve mentioned him to you before,” President Amidala said with as much dignity as she could muster.

Sola just snickered and took her sister’s arm to lead her into the house with the rest of the family.

The weekend passed very agreeably, though too quickly. President Amidala’s birthday was on Saturday—she was turning thirty-six—and to Anakin’s pleasant surprise, she’d arranged for there to be enough birthday cake for all the staff who’d accompanied her in addition to her family (it was delicious). When Anakin showed up for his shift Sunday morning, he found her standing on the porch outside her room and gazing out at the ocean. She turned as she heard him approach, and she smiled and beckoned him over.

Anakin obligingly crossed the bedroom, slid the porch door open and closed it behind him, and came to stand at the railing beside her. “It’s a beautiful morning,” she commented.

Anakin hummed in agreement. It was sunny and warm, but not uncomfortably so thanks to the ocean breeze. The water was a dark gray-blue, and there wasn’t a swimmer or boat in sight. “See that rock out there?” President Amidala said, pointing to a small blob on the horizon. “My sister and I always raced each other to it when we were little. I always won, of course.” They both chuckled. “Then we’d swim back together and lie out on the sand and let the sun dry us.”

“I don’t like sand,” Anakin said rather bluntly, and he turned a little pink as President Amidala raised an eyebrow. “I mean, growing up in the desert and all that, sand was everywhere. It always got in your clothes and in the house and stuff. Not pleasant.”

“Oh. I can understand that.” She grinned. “I wouldn’t have made you come spend the weekend at a beach if I’d known you hated sand so much.”

Anakin ducked his head, blushing even more at her teasing. “I don’t mind the beach, ma’am. The water’s nice. You know, I didn’t see the ocean in person until I was nineteen.”

“Really?” President Amidala said incredulously. “Well, I guess that makes sense since you grew up in Arizona…going to the beach is such a common thing around here, I always forget that’s not the case everywhere.”

“Yeah,” said Anakin. “My college roommate was from San Diego and he took me there spring break our freshman year. Except all the beaches we went to were really crowded and touristy, so I didn’t like it much. This one’s really nice, though.”

“That’s because it’s private. I’m sure all the public beaches out here are just as crowded and touristy as they are in San Diego,” President Amidala said wryly.

They fell into a comfortable silence, and Anakin joined her in resting his elbows on the railing. After a few minutes, he thought of a question that had been pressing on his mind ever since they arrived. “Can I ask you something, ma’am?”

“Sure.”

“Why do you go by a different last name than the rest of your family?” She was an Amidala but the others were all Naberries.

“Amidala is my mother’s maiden name and my middle name, and I adopted it as my professional name when I first got into politics. I’m not really sure why I did it, to be honest. It does afford my family some amount of privacy since people don’t immediately make the connection between us, which is nice now that I’m president,” she replied. Then she smiled slightly. “But obviously I had no idea I’d end up here when I first changed my name, so in hindsight it seems like a pretty pretentious thing to have done.”

Anakin smiled too. “So your real name is actually Padmé Amidala Naberrie?” Technically, he already knew that—it had been mentioned in the packets of information about her Mace had compiled for the whole team so they could be familiar with her background and any potential security threats before she entered office—but he’d never heard any explanation for it until now.

“Yes.” President Amidala bit her lip, then ventured almost shyly, “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard you say my first name.”

“Oh,” Anakin said, flustered. “I-I’m sorry, ma’am.”

“No, it’s all right,” she said quickly. “I was actually going to say…it was nice. I spend so much time being ‘Madam President,’ sometimes it’s nice to just be Padmé again.”

“Oh,” Anakin repeated, not sure how to respond to that. President Amidala cleared her throat and looked back out at the ocean with a faint blush staining her cheeks, clearly embarrassed.

Anakin didn’t know what prompted him to do it. He didn’t know if it was because she’d just let her guard down in front of him, or if it was because they were outside of their usual setting and the routines and protocols that went along with it, or if it was merely just the fact that it was a beautiful day.

He didn’t know why, but he slid his hand along the railing ever so slightly until it was brushing against hers, and he slowly laced their fingers together. President Amidala’s breath caught, and she looked back at him again with wide eyes.

And then Anakin leaned in and pressed his lips to her own.

His eyes closed on instinct, and he was lost in his other four senses. The warm feeling of her mouth against his and their hands intertwined, the faint trace of coffee he could taste on her, the salty smell of the sea, the sound of gentle waves in the background…

But just as abruptly as the moment had begun, it ended. Anakin realized what he was doing—and with whom he was doing it—and jerked backwards, eyes flying open again. President Amidala was gaping at him, utterly speechless—though even if she had said anything, Anakin wouldn’t have been able to hear it over the sound of his own voice in his head yelling WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

“I-I’m—I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have—I don’t know why I—I’m sorry,” Anakin stuttered, and before she could say a word he whirled around and retreated to the safety of the house as fast as he could go without breaking out into a run.

He was so getting fired.

Chapter Text

Padmé was pretty sure her heart didn’t resume beating until after Anakin had vanished from sight, at which point it restarted at a rate about five times faster than normal. She let out a shaky breath and leaned back against the porch railing, placing a hand on her chest and willing herself to calm down.

Except calming down was a fairly impossible thing to do seeing as Anakin had just kissed her. It had all happened so fast, Padmé could barely make sense of it. But he’d looked so horrified afterwards and had all but sprinted away…had he not enjoyed it? Maybe he didn’t actually like her at all and he’d just kissed her by accident and now he was upset about it?

Fortunately, the logical part of Padmé’s brain managed to intervene at that moment and point out that if it was at all possible to kiss someone by accident, this kiss was about the furthest thing from it. They’d just been standing there and Anakin had deliberately taken her hand and then kissed her. Padmé hadn’t done a thing to initiate it, it was all him. That had to mean he had feelings for her on some level, didn’t it? Ever since she’d realized her own feelings, she’d begun picking up on little things, like the way she’d glance over at him and he’d quickly look away, the way he’d seem to get flustered or tongue-tied around her…Padmé had kept telling herself she was imagining it because she liked him and wanted to see signs that he felt the same way, but now she wondered if maybe she’d hadn’t been imagining things.

But what was she supposed to do now? A relationship between them was still as impossible as it had ever been. The best thing for Padmé to do would be to pretend nothing had ever happened; Anakin would probably follow her lead if his mortification after the kiss was anything to go by. They could both ignore it until they forgot all about it, and then things would go back to normal without incident.

And yet…if Anakin really did return her feelings, how could Padmé just sit by and let the opportunity pass? Protocol be damned, she wanted to be with him, and if he wanted to be with her too, what was stopping them? Besides, ignoring the fact that they’d kissed would just make the awkwardness fester until it was unbearable. They had to talk about it and clear the air. And if they were going to talk about it, Padmé might as well confess her feelings while she was at it, right?

She turned back around to gaze out at the ocean once more, her mind made up. She was going to catch Anakin alone as soon as possible and sit him down for a frank discussion.

Unfortunately, that was much easier said than done. For the rest of the day, it became apparent that Anakin was avoiding her (at least, as much as it was possible for her personal bodyguard who followed her everywhere to avoid her). Padmé spent most of the day with her family as it was, and on the few occasions she went to her bedroom alone to make a phonecall or do a bit of paperwork (her “vacation” couldn’t be entirely work-free), Anakin stammered something about not wanting to bother her and dashed back outside even though the day before he’d always stayed to chat for a minute or two.

By the time she was heading back to her room to go to bed, Padmé was at her wits’ end. She waited impatiently as Anakin checked the room, and before he had a chance to escape she said, “Anakin, wait a moment, please. I want to talk to you.”

He visibly winced and stared down at the floor. “Yes, ma’am.”

Padmé coughed slightly, realizing she’d been so focused on getting the opportunity to talk to him that she hadn’t actually planned out what to say. “So,” she began. “About what happened earlier—”

“Please don’t fire me, ma’am, I know I was out of line, I promise it’ll never happen again,” Anakin blurted out desperately.

Padmé looked at him in surprise. “Fire you? Why would I do that?”

“Because I—because of what happened,” he mumbled, turning red and dropping his gaze again.

“Who says I was upset about it?” Padmé said boldly.

Anakin looked back up at her, his mouth falling open slightly. “Ma’am?”

After a second spent gathering her courage, Padmé took a few steps towards him until they were standing only an inch apart. “Were you really sorry?” she asked softly.

His eyes were darting around as if he didn’t know where to look; they locked with hers for a moment before flicking down to her lips and then back up again. “W-what?” he stuttered.

“After you kissed me, you said you were sorry. I was just wondering if you meant it. Because…I wasn’t,” Padmé said, heart racing. “I wasn’t sorry.”

Anakin licked his lips, looking nervous and uncertain and—and was that a flicker of desire she detected? “No, ma’am,” he said, so quietly it was almost a whisper. “I-I wasn’t sorry either.”

“Good,” she breathed, and then she was kissing him for the second time that day.

Anakin made a little surprised noise but didn’t pull away; on the contrary, he started kissing her back almost immediately with a startling intensity that made Padmé gasp slightly. Now that she wasn’t as shocked and unprepared as she had been earlier, Padmé realized that kissing Anakin was nice. Very nice. Even better than all the times she totally hadn’t imagined it in her head.

They broke apart after a few seconds, cheeks flushed and mouths open and breathing unsteady. Feeling dizzy, Padmé met Anakin’s wide eyes and her heart jumped into her throat when she saw that she’d been right before; there was desire there. Desire that mirrored what was thundering through her own veins, screaming at her to kiss him again.

So she did, or maybe he did; Padmé didn’t know who initiated the movement, but suddenly their mouths were crashing together once more. Anakin tentatively rested his hands on her waist, and a shiver ran through her at the touch. She moved her hands up to tangle in his hair and parted her lips, whimpering a little when he slid his tongue between them. Seemingly encouraged by her obvious enthusiasm, Anakin slid his arms around her and pulled her closer until their bodies were pressing together. Padmé could feel his heart pounding against her chest, and he was gasping into her mouth and clutching her to him as if he was afraid she would slip right through his fingers.

After an eternity, they drew apart again to stop for air. “Anakin—” Padmé began breathlessly.

“We—we shouldn’t,” he said, equally breathless, but despite his words he made no move to step away from her.

“I know. We shouldn’t, I know we shouldn’t, but—” She took a deep breath and gazed up at him, her expression open. “Anakin, I—I want you.”

Anakin inhaled sharply and for a second Padmé feared she’d gone too far, but then he blushed and said, “I-I want you too, ma’am.”

“Padmé,” she corrected, suddenly registering the uncomfortable power dynamic between them. She extricated herself from his arms and took a few steps back. “We’re not President Amidala and Agent Skywalker right now, we’re just Padmé and Anakin. Equals. Otherwise this isn’t happening.”

“All right, I’m sorry, ma’am—um, Padmé,” Anakin said, looking startled by the forcefulness of her tone.

“It’s just—I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage of you,” Padmé explained. “Like I’m the—the powerful boss pressuring you into doing something you don’t want to do.”

“Oh. Well, this is definitely something I want to do,” he promised, and indeed the look in his eyes sent a thrill through her. “You have no idea how much this is something I want to do, Padmé.”

Padmé closed her eyes for a second and smiled at the sound of his voice saying her name. It sounded like music to her ears, which she knew was cliché but it was absolutely true. She felt Anakin’s hand lightly brushing against her cheek, and she opened her eyes and moved closer to him again, their lips meeting in another kiss.

This kiss was quick to heat up, Padmé pushing her tongue into Anakin’s mouth almost immediately and pressing herself against him. He responded enthusiastically, running his hands up and down her body and moaning softly when she bit down on his lower lip.

Another louder moan made her draw back, something suddenly occurring to her. “What is it?” Anakin said, slightly out of breath.

“Won’t people be able to hear us? Because of all that.” Padmé waved a hand to indicate his earpiece and microphone.

He shook his head. “Not unless I press the button to talk.”

“What if you press it by accident?”

“I won’t.”

“But what if you do?”

“I won’t.”

“Can’t you just take it off for a little while?”

“I can’t risk missing crucial information.” Seeing Padmé’s unconvinced look, Anakin sighed and said, “How about this. I’ll disconnect the mic and take it off so there’s no chance of anyone hearing us, but I’ll leave the earpiece in just in case someone tries to talk to me.”

“All right,” she said, soothed.

He shrugged off his jacket and fiddled around with the microphone for a minute before setting it on Padmé’s bedside table. Then he resumed kissing her and she started grinding against him, making both of them moan. She wasted no time in loosening his tie, unbuttoning his shirt, and dropping them both on the floor, and her eyes nearly fell out of her head when she saw how well-defined the muscles in his abdomen were. “Wow,” she blurted out, immediately turning pink as Anakin snickered.

Padmé reached out to touch him, and his laugh turned into a gasp and his body shuddered when her nails skimmed over his taut stomach muscles. Anakin grabbed her hand and tugged her over to the bed, then sat down and pulled her into his lap. Padmé went willingly, thrilled that he was starting to take some of the initiative now; she didn’t want the whole night to be her dictating and him following the way it was in day-to-day life.

She experimentally rolled her hips a few times and felt Anakin starting to harden underneath her, so she resumed her movements with even more intensity, making him gasp raggedly and bury his face in her shoulder. Soon his hands wandered down to squeeze her ass while his mouth started working her neck, and Padmé closed her eyes and let her head fall back, lost in the incredible feeling of his hands on her after all the weeks—maybe even months—she’d spent wanting him.

There was a tiny thought poking at the back of her mind, telling her that maybe before they went any further she should make sure Anakin actually liked her and wasn’t just using her for her position or something, but it was too faint to make itself heard through the fog of arousal that had settled over her brain. And so when Anakin started unbuttoning her shirt, Padmé eagerly shrugged it off and tossed it on the floor behind her, her bra soon following.

Before she had time to register that this was the first time she’d been completely topless in front of someone since breaking up with Clovis, Anakin maneuvered them until she was lying back on the bed and he was kneeling over her. Padmé met his eyes and saw a bit of uncertainty flickering there, so she smiled reassuringly at him and tugged his head down for another kiss.

Anakin’s hands ghosted up her torso as they kissed, and she gasped into his mouth when they found her breasts. He started playing with them, tentatively at first but growing bolder as Padmé’s moans encouraged him. After a few minutes Anakin pulled away from her lips and started trailing kisses down her neck and chest until he’d reached her breasts. With another hesitant glance up at her, he took one of her nipples between his teeth and sucked, his hand still working her other breast, and Padmé whimpered as she felt heat shoot straight down to her core.

“Yes, Anakin, please,” she said, closing her eyes and sighing in pleasure when Anakin obligingly doubled his efforts, hand and mouth switching places several minutes later. By this point Padmé could feel herself soaking through her panties, and her impatient squirming eventually convinced Anakin to abandon her breasts and continue making his way down her body.

Padmé was on fire everywhere his lips touched, and she was relieved when he finally hooked his fingers in the waistband of her skirt. But then he paused and looked up at her yet again. “Is this, um—” he said a little awkwardly. “Can I—?”

“Yes,” Padmé interrupted, heart pounding in anticipation. “Please.”

Anakin tugged her skirt and panties down together, Padmé lifting her hips so he could slide them off and toss them on the floor behind him. She felt a flush creeping into her skin as Anakin’s eyes raked over every inch of her body, completely bare under his gaze. “You’re…Padmé, you’re beautiful,” he said, so softly and sincerely that she blushed even harder, her stomach squirming pleasantly.

“Touch me,” she breathed. “Anakin, please.”

Padmé thought her heart was going to beat right out of her chest as Anakin slowly reached out towards her, and she gave a strangled gasp when his fingers brushed against her clit. Her hips automatically bucked up into his hand, which prompted him to start touching her in earnest. The intense pleasure made Padmé want to close her eyes on instinct, but she forced herself to keep them open so as not to miss a second of the vision that was Anakin between her legs.

Soon he’d flopped down onto his stomach, and Padmé had to bite back a scream when his tongue darted out and flicked her clit. “More,” she moaned, doing everything in her power to stop herself from abandoning all control and thrusting against his face. Fortunately, Anakin took her at her word and closed his mouth around her clit, biting and sucking and making fire coil in her belly. At the same time he slid two fingers inside her, and Padmé nearly sobbed from how good it felt.

Her pleasure was building and building, every muscle in her body tensing up in preparation for climax. And then finally it crashed over her, and Padmé whined high in her throat as her entire body sang out in delight, stars bursting in her vision. Anakin took her through it, only withdrawing his mouth and fingers when she flopped back against the pillow, boneless and trembling.

Padmé looked down at him and saw that his expression was a mixture of arousal, uncertainty, and perhaps a bit of smugness too. “Kiss me,” she murmured, reaching out towards him; looking relieved that this was all still okay and Padmé hadn’t changed her mind, Anakin crawled back up the bed and bent down to capture her lips in a kiss.

This kiss was lazier than their previous kisses, slow and unhurried as Padmé recovered from her orgasm. She carded her fingers through Anakin’s hair—he really did have the nicest hair—and pulled away after a minute to smile at him. “That was incredible.”

“Good,” Anakin said, smiling back—yes, he was definitely smug. Padmé laughed and kissed him again. They started kissing with more and more intensity, and soon it was Anakin’s turn to squirm. Padmé could feel him hard against her thigh, which made a new thrill of arousal run through her.

She reached for his belt, and Anakin eagerly helped her undo it and shove his pants and boxers off. Padmé let out a breath as his cock sprang free, her clit starting to throb again at the prospect of having him inside her. She pushed him back to a sitting position and sat up herself so she could get a better look at him, gaze roving over his body and checking him out as thoroughly as he’d done to her.

Anakin was blushing and looking a little embarrassed, but all that flew from his face the second Padmé wrapped her hand around him. She gave a few experimental strokes, grinning in delight when Anakin moaned and closed his eyes, his head falling back. “Fuck, Padmé,” he panted; the profanity sent a wave of heat through her and she sped up her pace, watching as Anakin’s skin grew flushed and sweaty, listening as he whimpered and cursed and as his breathing became erratic.

Eventually Padmé felt him pulse lightly in her hand and she quickly let go, not wanting him to come too soon. Apparently thinking along the same lines, Anakin gently pushed her to lie down once more and knelt over her—but then sat back on his heels, frowning. “We don’t have any condoms,” he said glumly.

Padmé’s heart sank for only a split second before she remembered something. “I think I do.”

Anakin raised his eyebrows. “You mean you brought some on this quick weekend trip? Were you expecting this to happen?”

“No,” she said defensively, reddening a little as he grinned. “I always keep some in my travel toiletry bag just in case. I think there should still be some there. It’s on the bathroom counter if you want to go check.”

Anakin hopped off the bed and went into her ensuite bathroom, calling over his shoulder, “Your travel toiletry bag? Who has a travel toiletry bag?”

“How else are you supposed to store your toiletries when you travel?”

“I don’t know, I just throw a toothbrush in my bag with all my clothes.”

Padmé shook her head in exasperation. Anakin returned a moment later, condom in hand. “Make sure it’s not expired,” Padmé said, then blushed. “I-I mean, not that I don’t—well, you already knew I’ve been single for a couple years, so—”

“Not expired. And I’m not judging you,” Anakin said reassuringly. “It’s been a while for me too.”

Padmé smiled, albeit a little sheepishly, and Anakin wasted no more time in tearing open the condom packet and rolling it on, his hands trembling a little in anticipation. He hurriedly got back on the bed until he was over her once more, and then he gripped her hips and met her eyes. “Ready?” he said quietly, the moment gone from teasing to serious again.

Padmé nodded. “Yes.”

Anakin positioned himself at her entrance and slowly, slowly pushed inside. Both of them gasped, and Padmé dug her nails into his back as her body adjusted to the intrusion—it had been a while, after all. Anakin waited for a few moments, but at another nod from her he slid out and back in again, still moving carefully and experimentally.

Padmé moaned loudly, the brief moment of discomfort over now and intense pleasure replacing it. “Fuck me,” she said breathlessly, too far gone for shame. “Please, Anakin, please.”

As soon as she said the word, it was like all of Anakin’s self-control snapped. He drew back once more and then slammed into her with full force, making both of them cry out. And he only continued to speed up his pace, fucking her fast and hard as she moaned and begged him for more, harder, deeper. Padmé felt like she was on fire—maybe it was just that she hadn’t done it in two years, but she was positive sex had never felt this incredible before.

“Padmé,” Anakin whimpered, biting down on his lip as if to keep himself from being too loud (there was the risk that someone walking by in the hall outside might hear). “Padmé, Padmé, fuck, ahhh—”

“Feels so good,” Padmé panted, squeezing her legs tighter around him to force him deeper. “Fuck, Anakin, you feel so good.”

His answering moan very nearly sent her over the edge—and with a few more thrusts she was falling, her mouth open in a silent cry as the air was knocked from her lungs, her back arching and body shuddering in pleasure. Anakin groaned as her inner muscles spasmed and squeezed him, and Padmé had just come down from the high when his hips stuttered in their rhythm and a second later he was coming too, burying his face in her neck and gasping against her skin.

Afterwards they both remained there motionless, gazing at each other and trying to catch their breath. At last Anakin slid out of her and got up to dispose of the condom, then came back and flopped down on the bed, looking utterly worn out. Padmé rolled over and instinctively nestled into his side, closing her eyes and letting his body heat wash over her. Anakin draped an arm over her, and she smiled when he placed a hesitant kiss on top of her head.

They lay there quietly for a while, and Padmé was just starting to doze off when she felt Anakin shifting beside her. She reluctantly opened her eyes and moved away to let him stand up. “I should go,” he said in a whisper as if he didn’t want to disturb the peaceful silence.

Padmé was sorely tempted to ask him to stay the night, but then she realized that he’d have to report back for his shift the next morning and the other agents on duty would definitely notice if he emerged from her bedroom instead of his own. Now that she thought about it, whichever agents were currently on duty—she was pretty sure it was Obi-Wan and Ahsoka—were probably wondering why Anakin had been in her room so long as it was. Oops.

So instead she nodded and got out of bed as well, slipping on a bathrobe as Anakin hurriedly got dressed and checked his appearance in the mirror to make sure he didn’t look unusually disheveled. Padmé followed him over to the door and they both hesitated, neither wanting him to leave.

“Goodnight,” Anakin said at last. Padmé echoed the sentiment, then stood up on her tiptoes to give him one last kiss before he headed out the door.


“Is everything all right? You were in there an awfully long time.”

Anakin nearly jumped out of his skin and whipped around to see Obi-Wan and Ahsoka approaching him from the other end of the hallway outside President Amidala—Padmé’s room. Right. They must have been there the entire time Anakin was inside. Shit.

“Uh, yeah, everything’s fine,” Anakin said, praying he sounded calmer than he felt. “We were just…talking for a while.”

Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows. “Talking?”

“Yeah. About, uh, things. Nothing exciting. Just small talk, really.” Anakin made a show of checking his watch. “Anyway, it’s getting late. I’ll see you guys later.”

And he hurried off down the hall before either of them could say another word. Only when he was safely in his room (he’d been staying in a spare room upstairs all weekend) did he let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. Anakin sat down on the bed with a thump, mind racing faster than he could keep up.

He’d just slept with the president of the United States. Something he never, ever would’ve pictured himself being able to say, and yet here he was. Anakin couldn’t hold back a broad smile as he replayed the whole thing in his head, feeling more than a little giddy. He’d gone into her room expecting to get fired for kissing her and had ended up having sex with her. Definitely not how he’d thought his day was going to go.

Anakin’s heart fluttered as he remembered the way she’d looked under him, the sounds she’d made, how good she’d felt, how intoxicating her kisses had been. It had been better than all his wildest daydreams combined. He’d been pining over her for months, and now he finally knew that she felt the same way—

His smile suddenly slid off his face. He—he didn’t know she felt the same way. She hadn’t actually said anything of the sort. Neither had he, really; there hadn’t been very much talking involved, now that Anakin thought about it. They’d both made it clear they wanted to have sex with each other, but beyond that…

What if Padmé didn’t actually have feelings for him at all? What if she’d just been looking to get laid and Anakin had happened to be in the right place at the right time? What if now she was going to pretend it had never happened and go back to treating him as nothing more than a colleague? What if Anakin told her how he felt about her and she laughed at him for being so stupid, so naïve as to think the president of the United States would actually care about someone like him? What if he was daydreaming about dating her and introducing her to his mother and marrying her and having babies with her and Padmé was back in her own room cackling to herself about how easily she’d seduced him? (Not that Anakin actually was daydreaming about any of those things, of course. He most certainly was not letting his imagination run quite that wild. Not in the slightest.)

He took a deep breath and told himself to calm down. Surely he was overthinking it. After all, Padmé didn’t really strike him as someone who liked casual sex—she’d implied she hadn’t slept with anyone since breaking up with Clovis two years ago. And especially not casual sex with someone she worked with and saw every single day. If she’d wanted a one-night stand, Anakin was probably the worst choice she could’ve made. She wouldn’t have willingly put herself into such a potentially awkward situation unless she genuinely cared about him and wanted to be with him. Right?

Then again, it wasn’t like they could really be together. The gossip would ruin Padmé’s reputation and maybe even her career, and Anakin would almost certainly get fired for inappropriate conduct. There was no hope of a future together for the two of them. But if Padmé was looking for more than a one-night stand yet couldn’t have more than that with Anakin, why had she wanted to have sex with him?

Anakin heaved a sigh and headed into the bathroom for a shower. This was a ridiculously messy and complicated situation. He should never have gotten himself into it in the first place. Out of all the stupid things he’d ever done—and he’d done a lot of stupid things in his life—having sex with the president of the United States was by far the stupidest.

As he always unconsciously did when confronted with a career-related problem, Anakin found himself wondering what Obi-Wan would’ve done in the situation. Obi-Wan wouldn’t have slept with her, obviously. He wouldn’t have kissed her in the first place either; hell, he wouldn’t have even let himself develop feelings for her. Obi-Wan was always the epitome of professionalism. Anakin tried so hard to emulate him, but he could never quite get there. He always inevitably managed to fuck something up. Obi-Wan never fucked anything up. Why couldn’t Anakin be more like him?

Then again, if Anakin could rewind the day and do things differently, would he? No, he realized suddenly. Regardless of how sticky the situation was now, he was glad he’d kissed Padmé, glad he’d slept with her. He wouldn’t go back and change his actions, even if they were contrary to what Obi-Wan would’ve done in his shoes.

That thought soothed Anakin somewhat, though by the time he got out of the shower and climbed into bed his brain was still way too frenzied for sleep. He just prayed Padmé felt the same way about him as he did about her, prayed that this wouldn’t make things awkward between them. Why hadn’t he stayed longer afterwards to talk things through with her? Well, maybe it would be good that they both had some time alone to gather their thoughts before sitting down for a serious conversation about what this meant for their relationship going forward.

Assuming they were even going to have a relationship going forward…

Chapter Text

When she woke up the next morning, Padmé was overwhelmed with nerves at the prospect of seeing Anakin again. She’d been too blissed out to think much about it at the time, but after Anakin had left the night before she’d realized they hadn’t actually talked about anything very seriously. Was Anakin going to say it had all been a terrible mistake? Had it all been a terrible mistake? Padmé had always prided herself on her professionalism, but sleeping with someone who worked directly under her (no pun intended, the sly part of her brain whispered) was the definition of unprofessional.

But it wasn’t like that, she reminded herself as she hurriedly dressed and started packing her bags (they were heading back to DC after breakfast). First of all, Padmé wasn’t actually Anakin’s boss. It wasn’t some underhanded agreement where she’d promote him or give him a raise in return for sleeping with her, because she didn’t actually have the power to do that. Well, she could go to Mace and insist that Anakin be promoted and he might do it, but still, Mace was the one in whose hands Anakin’s career rested, technically. Padmé and Anakin did have a working relationship, yes, but they weren’t boss and employee. They were just two people who had feelings for each other and who had mutually decided to act on those feelings. There wasn’t anything sordid or disreputable about it.

Well…Anakin did have feelings for her, right? He hadn’t specifically said so, but again, Padmé took his initiation of their first kiss as a sign that he did. Loath as she was to acknowledge the power imbalance in their professional lives, it did mean that making the first move was a lot riskier for Anakin than it would’ve been for her, but he was still the one who’d done it. If he was just looking for sex, he wouldn’t have taken such a huge risk.

Unless he was just using her? Padmé bit her lip as this new worrying thought dawned. She was the most powerful person in the country. What if Anakin had only wanted to sleep with her so he’d be able to get a favor from her or blackmail her or something? But no, Anakin was the head of her security team. He’d sworn his life to protecting her. If she couldn’t trust him, she couldn’t trust anyone.

Calm down, Padmé told herself sternly. She was overthinking things and working herself up over nothing, just as she always did. She just had to talk to Anakin and clear some things up. It was as simple as that.

Still, when she opened her bedroom door and stepped out into the hall and saw Anakin waiting with Luminara and Barriss, her heart started thumping so loud it was a miracle none of them heard it. Anakin met her eyes and his face went very pale, then very red; the heat Padmé felt on her own cheeks told her she probably looked the same.

“Good morning, Pa—uh, ma’am,” Anakin stammered.

Padmé did her best to smile at him in an “I’m being polite to my professional acquaintance” way as opposed to a “we had sex last night and have you been freaking out about it all morning because I sure have” way. “Good morning, Anakin. And Luminara and Barriss,” she added hastily, remembering there were, in fact, other people there. “Did everyone sleep well last night?”

“I’ve been sleeping much better here than I do in DC, ma’am,” Luminara replied. “It’s so quiet and peaceful.”

Barriss made a noise of agreement, and Padmé turned to Anakin. “What about you, Anakin, how did you sleep?” she said in a would-be casual tone.

“Very well, ma’am, thank you,” he said, his tone also one of forced nonchalance.

Padmé was desperate to say something, anything about the night before, but Luminara and Barriss’s presence made that impossible, so she settled for an awkward nod before heading to have breakfast with her family.

Something which, as it turned out, was very difficult to do when the man you’d slept with less than twelve hours earlier was standing right outside the dining room and that fact was all you could focus on, leading to some concerned questions from family members about whether you were feeling all right. “Sorry, I’m fine, just a little distracted. Thinking about all the things I have to do when I get back,” Padmé said, an excuse which her family seemed to accept easily enough, to her relief.

The flight back to DC was even more excruciating. Anakin was right there the entire time, but still they didn’t have enough privacy for Padmé to talk to him seriously. She didn’t think she had it in her to make small talk with him as if nothing had changed, so she pulled out her laptop and busied herself with work. Anakin spent the time staring at her and quickly looking away whenever she glanced over at him. All things considered, Padmé failed to actually get much work done.

And once they arrived back at the White House, she was immediately swept up in paperwork, phonecalls, and meetings with Bail to be filled in on what she’d missed. She resigned herself to waiting until that night to talk to Anakin alone. If she could survive that long without dying from the awkwardness between them.


“We need to talk,” Padmé said as soon as Anakin had shut her bedroom door behind them that night.

Anakin felt his cheeks turn pink. “Okay. Um, yeah,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Let me just check the room first.”

He did so as quickly as he could while still being thorough, though even so Padmé looked impatient by the time he came back to stand in front of her. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and stared down at the floor, waiting for her to speak first. Waiting for her to say she regretted last night and never wanted to see him again.

“So. Last night,” she began after a long moment of silence.

There was another pause, so Anakin chanced a glance up at her and saw her looking expectantly at him. He made a noncommittal noise and went back to staring at his shoes. Padmé heaved a small sigh but obligingly continued speaking since Anakin wasn’t going to. “Um…so this situation is very complicated, obviously,” she said. “Since you’re my bodyguard and all. So what happened last night was—was probably kind of inappropriate. My reputation would be dragged through the mud if anyone found out, and you’d get fired.”

Anakin finally looked up at her again, heart sinking. “Oh. So…so you think we shouldn’t have—you think it was a mistake?” he said, trying to keep a wobble out of his voice. He knew it was too good to be true, knew the cold light of day would make Padmé realize how stupid last night was, knew she’d want to break it off—

“No,” she said quickly, and Anakin blinked at her in surprise. “I meant, logically I know I should think it was a mistake, but…I don’t. Because—because there’s something I didn’t tell you last night.”

“What?” he asked, equal parts curious and apprehensive.

“I—” Padmé licked her lips nervously, and then she looked at him with more openness, more vulnerability in her face than he had ever seen. “Anakin, I—I have feelings for you. I have for weeks, maybe months but it just took me kind of a while to realize it.”

All the air whooshed out of Anakin’s lungs, and all he could do was gape at her in utter astonishment. She…had feelings for him? She really, actually had feelings for him? So last night hadn’t just been about sex for her either, it had meant more than that? Had meant as much to her as it had to him?

Padmé was watching him anxiously, and it was only when she started talking again that he realized how long he’d been staring speechlessly at her. “I-I’m sorry if this is weird, I know what with—with me being the president, it’s kind of—obviously I don’t expect you to—it’s fine if you don’t—”

Anakin took three steps forward, cupped her face in his hands, and kissed her hard. Padmé squeaked in surprise when their lips met, and he pulled away a few moments later to see her staring at him with a mix of amazement and hope.

Anakin cleared his throat, a little embarrassed at his overzealous reaction—but more than anything there was joy singing through his veins. “I have feelings for you, too,” he said, offering her a shy smile.

Padmé let out a small breath, and then a smile gradually started to grow on her own face. “Really? So…last night wasn’t just about sex?” she asked hopefully.

“No, last night—it meant a lot to me,” Anakin confessed. “Padmé, I’ve had feelings for you for months too, and I never, ever thought—I mean, you’re the president. I never thought you’d have time for someone like me.”

She raised an eyebrow. “You thought I was a snob?”

“No, just that you could do better if you wanted. So much better than me.”

Padmé’s face softened, and she reached out to rest a hand on his cheek. “How could I do better? Anakin, you’re one of the most…genuine people I’ve ever known. All the people I’ve met throughout my political career, they’re all so self-serving and two-faced and cynical, but you? You’re real. I never have to wonder if you’re lying or sucking up to me. You’re so honest, so sincere about everything, and I can’t explain how much I appreciate that.”

“You’re saying you like me just because I don’t lie to you?” Anakin said, bemused. “I’m sure you’ve met other honest people.”

“You’d be surprised,” Padmé said dryly. “And of course that’s not the only reason I like you.”

“Oh yeah? What are some of the other reasons?” he asked with a grin; now that the surprise was starting to wear off, elation and playfulness were settling in to replace it.

She rolled her eyes, though she was smiling too. “Well, you’re funny and caring and trustworthy and fun to be around. And very hot,” she added, her smile turning a little sly.

“Is that so?”

“Mm-hmm. I’ve been replaying last night in my head all day,” Padmé murmured, hands slowly wandering down his torso. “Remembering how hot you looked, how good you felt…”

Anakin swallowed and grabbed her hands. “Not that I don’t want to physically replay last night right now, but I think Obi-Wan and Ahsoka might be suspicious if I stayed late in your room two nights in a row,” he said.

Padmé huffed in disappointment, but then she laughed. “That’s probably a good point. Did they say anything about it?”

“Yeah, but I just told them we were talking for a while.”

“And they believed that?”

“Yeah. I think.”

They both chuckled again, but then Padmé’s expression turned serious. “So…what happens now?” she said tentatively. “If we both have feelings for each other but we can’t really be together?”

Anakin bit his lip. “We could keep it a secret,” he suggested after a minute. “I know it’s not ideal, and we’d have to do a lot of lying and sneaking around, but—but I want to be with you, Padmé.”

She sighed. “You’re right, it would be really hard…but I want to be with you too. No matter what it takes.” She paused and Anakin saw a flicker of uncertainty in her eyes. “But are you sure—I mean, it’s my fault we’d have to keep it a secret, really, not yours. So I guess I’m just wondering, wouldn’t you rather find some nice, normal person to date? Someone whose every move isn’t scrutinized by the entire country? Someone you could be with openly and not have to hide it?”

She looked genuinely worried, and Anakin could only stare at her, once again baffled by the fact that she was unaware of her own perfection. “Are you kidding? Padmé, you’re incredible, and I care about you so much,” he said. “I would rather have a secret relationship with you than a normal one with anyone else. Hell, I still can’t even believe you like me, seeing as you’re way out of my league and all.”

Padmé ducked her head, blushing. “I am not out of your league, don’t be ridiculous. I can hardly believe you like me. I always kind of figured I was just a job to you.”

Anakin reached out and tilted her chin up to look at him. “You’re not. You never have been,” he said softly. “From the moment I met you, all those months ago, you were always more than just a job. I was never able to emotionally distance myself from you the way I was supposed to, not even on day one.”

Padmé smiled at him, and he only had a second to marvel at how beautiful she was before she was standing up on her toes and kissing him, soft and gentle and sweet. “You should probably get going, you’ve been in here kind of a while,” she said reluctantly when they parted. “But we should lay some ground rules first.”

“Like what?”

“Well, I guess the number one rule is that we can’t say a word about any of this to anyone. Not even our family and friends, to be extra safe.”

Anakin hesitated. The thought of lying about something so huge to his mother, to Ahsoka and Obi-Wan and the rest of his friends…then again, if word of their relationship got out, he’d lose his job and Padmé would be ruined. He could already see the tabloid headlines: Amidala in Disgrace for Secret Affair with Bodyguard! She was right, they just couldn’t risk it. “Okay,” he said. “So then obviously we’ll have to act like nothing’s changed whenever there’s other people around.”

Padmé nodded. “I guess you’d better get back in the habit of calling me ‘ma’am.’ After I worked so hard to break you of it,” she said wryly, and Anakin grinned.

“I can still call you Padmé when we’re alone, though, right? I mean, if you want me to call you ‘ma’am’ in bed—”

“Nope, let’s pass on that,” Padmé cut him off quickly, turning red as he snickered. “But on that note, we won’t be able to spend that much time alone together seeing as it would be suspicious if you stayed extra long in my room too often.”

“Oh. That’s true,” Anakin said in disappointment. “So then we probably won’t be able to have sex very often, either.”

“Probably not,” she agreed, sounding equally disappointed. “But…that might not necessarily be a bad thing. I mean, I don’t want our relationship to revolve around sex anyway.”

“Me neither,” Anakin said, perking up at the thought. “If all we ever did was sneak around and have sex it would feel like some kind of sordid affair or something, and that’s not what this is. This is a real, serious relationship, even if we can’t tell anyone about it.” Then he stopped, realizing he may have overstepped. “That is, I don’t know if you wanted—it doesn’t have to be serious if you’d rather—”

“No, I-I’d like that,” Padmé said, giving him a small smile. “I’ve never really been into casual dating, to be honest. So obviously we can take things slow—well, we did already sleep together so that might be kind of out the window by now—but I want it to be serious, as long as you do too.”

“Definitely,” Anakin said at once, heart swelling. “I don’t like casual either.”

They stood there beaming at each other for several moments until Anakin came to his senses and realized he really should be going. He pulled Padmé in for another kiss, drawing it out so he wouldn’t have to leave. But eventually she pulled away and murmured, “Obi-Wan and Ahsoka are probably getting suspicious.”

Anakin sighed. “See you tomorrow,” he said, placing a light kiss on her nose and making her giggle.

“Goodnight, Anakin.”

“’Night.”

Anakin did his best to wipe off his giddy smile as he went back out into the hall and bid Obi-Wan and Ahsoka goodnight, but once he was safely heading upstairs to his own room he let it return in full force. He couldn’t believe how quickly things had changed, and how drastically. Only two days ago he’d been hopelessly pining over Padmé, and now they were together. He would’ve thought he was dreaming, except even his subconscious wouldn’t have been able to come up with such a wonderful scenario. No, this was definitely real. Padmé really returned his feelings and they really had decided to start a relationship.

It would be cheesy to say that Anakin fell asleep that night with a smile on his face, but it was entirely true.

Chapter Text

“Yes, Anakin,” Padmé sighed, rolling her hips again and biting back a moan at the utterly reverent expression on his face as he gazed up at her.

Another movement had Anakin stifling a moan himself and tightening his grip on her hips. “More,” he panted. “Padmé, please…”

Grinning wickedly, Padmé started riding him harder, letting her head fall back and feeling pleasure building up more and more in her core, so close—

Anakin suddenly sat up so fast he whacked his head against hers. “Ow!” she yelped. “Anakin, what—?”

He made a frantic shushing gesture with one hand as the other lunged for the bedside table, scrabbling around until he’d gotten ahold of his mic. He hurriedly reattached it to the earpiece he’d been wearing the whole time, then held it up to his mouth and pressed the button to talk. “Ahsoka? What’s up?” Anakin said, his voice coming out mostly steady.

Padmé’s eyes widened and her heartbeat sped up even more. It had been a little over a month since the trip to Martha’s Vineyard, and Obi-Wan and Ahsoka were back on night duty that week. Hence Ahsoka was standing literally right out in the hallway at that very moment. If she’d decided to just walk in and find Anakin to talk to him instead of using their headsets…

“Just talking. Everything’s fine,” Anakin said after a brief pause. Feeling daring, Padmé rolled her hips just a little bit, making Anakin inhale sharply and stumble over his next words. “Y-yeah, I’ll be out soon. Don’t, ah, worry about it.”

He put the mic back down on the bedside table and glared at Padmé, though he was betrayed by the way the corners of his mouth were quirking up a little. “Padmé, I swear to God—”

She leaned in and captured his mouth in a kiss to shut him up. “If Ahsoka’s wondering where you are, I guess I’d better hurry up,” she said in a low voice, resuming her movements with even more intensity and making Anakin moan appreciatively.

Five minutes later, they’d both collapsed onto the bed and were trying to catch their breath, exhausted but wonderfully sated (it had been a week since the last time they’d risked having sex). Padmé closed her eyes and snuggled closer into Anakin, enjoying his solid warmth against her back and one arm draped over her while the other played with her hair. Moments like these, moments where there was no worrying or sneaking or lying, moments when it was just the two of them cuddling together in contented silence—these were the moments she lived for. They never happened often enough, and when they did happen they were never allowed to last for long enough. In a few minutes Anakin would be climbing out of bed and getting dressed and going back to his own room to sleep and leaving her cold and alone…

“Tell me a secret,” Anakin murmured, bringing her back to the present.

Padmé rolled over to face him, raising an eyebrow. “A secret? I haven’t been keeping any deep, dark secrets from you, I promise.”

He chuckled and leaned in to plant a gentle kiss on her nose. “Tell me something about you I don’t know, then.”

“You know everything about me. Hell, you and Mace and the other agents probably know more about me than I know about myself.”

“Not everything, just factual stuff. Boring stuff.”

Padmé pondered the question for a moment, then said, “Did you know that I didn’t want to run for president?”

Anakin looked surprised. “You didn’t?”

“No, not at first. I never wanted this kind of power or high profile,” she confessed. “I was content to spend my life as a senator and do what I could to serve the people and make things better from there. But when I started hearing rumors Palpatine was planning to run for president, I knew I had to do everything in my power to stop him. And that meant I had to run myself.”

“You couldn’t have just settled for helping out whoever else the Democratic candidate ended up being?” Anakin asked, looking puzzled. “It didn’t have to be you.”

Padmé shrugged with the shoulder she wasn’t lying on. “No, it didn’t. But if the candidate wasn’t me and they lost and the country had to endure four years of a Palpatine presidency…I couldn’t have lived with myself, wondering if things would’ve turned out differently if I’d run, wondering if I could’ve defeated him. And I figured even if I never made it past the primary, at least I’d know I tried.”

“Are you unhappy you’re president now, then, if you didn’t originally want to run?” Anakin said curiously.

Padmé gave him a wry smile. “Yes and no. I’m glad I’m president and Palpatine isn’t. But the selfish part of me wishes I could just be a normal person again. It’s not even just about having no privacy anymore, it’s also…having this much power scares me sometimes.”

“And that’s exactly why you’re the kind of person who should have this much power,” said Anakin, resting his hand on her cheek and grazing her cheekbone with his thumb.

She chuckled and nuzzled into the touch. “Yes, I’m well aware of all the timeless sayings about how the best people to give power are the ones who don’t want it.”

“Timeless because they’re true.”

Padmé hummed in agreement, then gave him a soft smile. “Besides, if I wasn’t president I never would’ve met you, so in the end I am glad I’m here.”

Anakin beamed at her and leaned in for another kiss. “Me too.”

“Now you tell me a secret,” she said playfully.

“Hmm…everyone used to call me Ani when I was little, and my mom still does,” he said, turning a little red as Padmé laughed in delight.

“Ani? That’s adorable,” she said. “Can I call you that?”

Anakin rolled his eyes. “Sure, if you really want. Just please not in front of anyone else.”

“Deal,” she said, still giggling. “I bet the other kids at school loved that.”

“Oh, you have no idea,” he said with a chuckle. “As if I didn’t already get bullied enough.”

Padmé’s smile slipped. “You were bullied in school?”

“Oh. Yeah,” Anakin mumbled, dropping his gaze. “For being poor and stuff. The schools in my town were terrible so my mom managed to get me to be able to go to the public schools a few towns over, and all the kids there were really rich. I stood out like a sore thumb. You know what kids can be like when they find the one classmate who doesn’t fit in with the rest of them.”

“Anakin, I’m—I’m so sorry,” Padmé said, heart aching. “That’s awful.”

Anakin shrugged, looking uncomfortable. “It’s not a big deal, it was a long time ago.”

“It is a big deal, there’s all sorts of studies about how being bullied as a kid can psychologically affect you into adulthood—”

“Well, I turned out all right, didn’t I?” he interrupted. “Seriously, it’s fine. That’s all so far behind me, it feels like a completely different life. I mean, now I live in the White House and am dating the president.”

Padmé returned his smile, still troubled but not wanting to drag out the subject when Anakin clearly wanted to return to lighter territory. “A real Cinderella story,” she said. “They should make a TV movie out of you.”

Anakin laughed heartily and climbed out of bed to start getting dressed, Padmé following him. “Besides, it wasn’t all bad,” he said a few moments later. “I had Kitster, my best friend. He lived next door to me. We always took the bus to school together, stood up to the other kids for each other. And by high school everyone pretty much left us alone anyway. Might’ve had something to do with the fact that I started getting really tall and intimidating.”

Padmé joined in his laughter. “Kitster sounds like a good friend,” she said, heart lifting a little at the knowledge that Anakin hadn’t been completely alone in school. “What’s he up to now?”

“He’s a hotel manager back in Arizona. He’s done really well for himself,” Anakin said proudly. “I haven’t seen him in a while because I’ve been out here, but we’re still in touch.”

“That’s great.”

Anakin checked his reflection in the mirror and straightened his tie. “How do I look?”

“Hmm. Mild case of sex hair.”

He reached up and combed his fingers through his hair a little, then patted it down. “Better?”

“Yeah.”

Padmé went over and kissed him one last time before exchanging goodnights, then watched him walk out the door. They’d already been together for over a month but it felt like so much shorter because of how little time they were able to spend together. Or at least, how little time they were able to spend together as a couple instead of as the president and her bodyguard. She sighed as she headed for the shower, wishing for the hundredth time that they could just be normal, wishing she could fall asleep beside Anakin and wake up with him still there. Wishing they didn’t have to hide.


Anakin was distracted as he left Padmé’s room—he didn’t like talking (or thinking) about his childhood bullies and sorely regretted accidentally mentioning it to her—which was why, when Ahsoka asked what had taken him so long, his reply was an intelligent, “Um.”

“Well?” Ahsoka said, looking highly interested. “You were in there for ages, wasn’t he, Obi-Wan?”

“Mmm.”

“And when I asked what you were doing you said you’d be out soon and then still took forever to come out, didn’t he, Obi-Wan?”

“Mmm.”

“And your hair looks weird, doesn’t it, Obi-Wan?”

“I don’t see a difference,” Obi-Wan said, to Anakin’s relief.

Ahsoka scoffed. “Well, you’ve probably been wearing that same hairstyle since before I was born, of course you don’t notice other people’s hair.”

“My hair looks the same, and I wasn’t in there that long,” Anakin insisted as Obi-Wan spluttered indignantly. “And actually, Obi-Wan used to have a terrible mullet before you worked here but he cut it after we met Satine because she made fun of it once.”

Ahsoka cackled, and Obi-Wan’s splutters grew even more indignant. “So what were you doing in there, Skyguy?”

“I told you, we were just talking,” Anakin said, trying not to break out into a nervous sweat. “I know it took kind of a while but she got on this whole long detailed story and I couldn’t just leave in the middle, it would’ve been rude.” Ahsoka looked thoroughly unconvinced. Time to bail. “Have a good night, I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”

He’d only taken a few steps away when Ahsoka said, “Mind if I walk you up to your room? I want to talk to you.”

“Ahsoka, we’re on duty,” Obi-Wan said sternly. “You can’t just abandon your post.”

“Come on, I’ll only be five minutes,” she said.

“Why can’t you just talk to Anakin here?”

“Because he’s leaving.”

“He can stay for five minutes, can’t you, Anakin?”

“I’m pretty tired, actually—”

“No, I want to talk to him alone,” Ahsoka said. “I need to ask him for advice about Riyo.”

“Why can’t I be there for that?” Obi-Wan asked.

“Because you’re terrible with romance and I don’t want your bad luck to rub off on me if I talk about my love life near you.”

“Excuse me! As if Anakin’s good with romance.”

“He’s definitely better than you, Mr. ‘I’ve had a crush on Satine for four years and still haven’t asked her out,’” Ahsoka retorted. She grabbed Anakin’s arm and marched him off down the hallway, and he gave an exasperated Obi-Wan a helpless look over his shoulder.

“What do you need advice about?” Anakin said when they reached the stairwell. “Listen, it’s obvious Riyo likes you, I don’t see why you can’t just ask her out.”

“Oh, I’m planning to,” Ahsoka said cheerfully. “That’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“But you just said—”

“That was a ruse to get Obi-Wan out of the way.” Her expression turned sly, and now Anakin really was about to break out into a cold sweat. “I have a crazy theory I want to run by you.”

He sighed. “Fine. Shoot.”

“I think the president has a secret lover. And I think I know who it is, too.”

Anakin almost tripped up the stairs. “W-what?” he stuttered. “Ahsoka, you know we’re not supposed to—to stick our faces into the president’s personal business.”

“As if you weren’t sticking your face into her personal business just now!” Ahsoka said triumphantly.

That time Anakin actually did trip up the stairs, and he had to grab the railing to keep himself from falling flat on his face. “What? What are you talk—why would you even think that?” he managed, desperately trying to keep his cool. “That’s ridiculous, Snips. Me and the president? As if she’d ever look twice at me. Plus, it would be incredibly inappropriate. And wrong. And I wouldn’t even want—I mean, I’m not attracted to her at all. Totally not my type.”

He realized that Ahsoka’s smug expression was getting even smugger, and he hastily shut his mouth. “Well, let’s look at the evidence,” she said, sounding very self-satisfied indeed. “One, you’ve repeatedly been staying extra long in her room at night and using pretty flimsy excuses to explain it. Two, on those extra long nights you always come out of her room all breathless and disheveled and shifty-looking, and you dash off before Obi-Wan or I can even say two words to you. Three, you totally have sex hair right now no matter what Obi-Wan thinks. Four, there’s constantly a weird flirty vibe between you two. And five, did I or did I not hear you yell ‘fuck’ at some point tonight while you were in her room?”

Anakin gaped at her, panic welling up. Had they really been that obvious? And if Ahsoka had figured it out, what if other people had too? Obi-Wan hadn’t seemed particularly suspicious, though, so maybe they were safe…

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said calmly (or as calmly as he could under the circumstances). “I have never once in my life yelled ‘fuck’ in the president’s presence, either tonight or any other time, so maybe you should get your ears checked.” Big lie. “There’s definitely not a flirty vibe between us, or any other sort of vibe, and my hair looks the same right now as it always does. I’m in a hurry after staying late in her room because I’m…late for my daily phone call to my mom—” Shmi would love if he called her every night; now Anakin was feeling guilty on top of everything else “—and the reasons for me staying late aren’t flimsy excuses, they’re just what the president says when she says she’d like me to stay longer. I just do what she tells me without asking questions.”

Ahsoka smirked. “I’ll bet you do.”

Anakin flushed despite himself and scowled at her. If she wasn’t going to back down, it was time to pull out the big guns. “I’m glad you’re having fun with this, but it’s not true, and if you start a rumor about it I could get fired. Do you want me to get fired, Ahsoka?”

“Of course not. That’s why I brought my theory to you first instead of Obi-Wan or Mace,” she informed him. “I don’t want to get you in trouble, I just want you to tell me the truth. That’s what friends do. I thought we were friends, but maybe I was wrong.”

Dammit. Beaten at his own game of guilt-tripping. “Of course we’re friends,” Anakin said. Then he paused. He did trust Ahsoka, and he felt bad for lying to her so blatantly now that she’d outright asked him if he was sleeping with Padmé…but no, he and Padmé had both promised not to tell anyone, he couldn’t go back on that. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair to Ahsoka to ask her to keep this secret for him. “And I am telling you the truth. There’s nothing going on between me and the president, and that’s final. I don’t want to hear about this again, Snips.”

Ahsoka huffed. “Fine, no need to get all pissy about it. See you tomorrow.”

“See you.”

She turned and went back down the stairs, and Anakin continued on to his room, trying to calm his nerves. That was close. Too close. He needed to tell Padmé that Ahsoka was on to them. Apparently they had to be even more careful going forward.

Chapter Text

“Are you excited for the party tomorrow?” Anakin asked, coming out of Padmé’s bathroom as she pulled the last pin from her hair and shook out her curls.

“So excited. I can’t wait to see the look on Bail’s face,” she said, grinning. She and Breha had teamed up to throw Bail a surprise party for his birthday and as far as Padmé knew, he still had no idea what was coming.

Anakin came over and wrapped his arms around her, and Padmé melted into the embrace, sighing in contentment. It was torture, spending the majority of every day with Anakin but having to keep him at arm’s length, only being able to drop the façade and treat him like her boyfriend during the stolen moments alone in her bedroom at night.

He pressed a kiss to the top of her head, then murmured into her hair, “Will you save a dance for me?” He would be on duty at the party along with a handful of the others.

Padmé smiled and snuggled closer against him. “Of course. As long as you don’t mind Obi-Wan yelling at you.”

“Totally worth it.” Anakin paused. “Although actually, I’m afraid I’ll step on your feet again. I really don’t know how to dance.”

She laughed at the memory of Anakin stepping on her feet the last time they’d danced together, both of them shy and embarrassed and barely even aware of their feelings for each other yet. “I’ll teach you,” she declared, pulling away and holding her hand out to him.

He gamely took it and allowed her to position his hands correctly on her body. “Okay, now you step forward and I step back,” Padmé instructed, and Anakin dutifully did so.

This continued for a couple minutes, Anakin’s brow furrowed in concentration and Padmé giggling at how seriously he was taking it. “Stop laughing at me, I’m trying my best,” he whined.

“I’m not laughing at that, I’m laughing at how adorable you look right now,” she said fondly, and he stuck his tongue out at her.

“How’d you get so good at dancing anyway?” he asked.

“Years of attending political functions will do that. Also, I spent hours watching YouTube tutorials before my first one because I didn’t want to mess up and embarrass myself.”

“Wow, you would,” Anakin said, so affectionately that Padmé’s stomach did a backflip.

“Hey, I like to be prepared,” she said loftily, and he laughed and bent down to kiss her, effectively ending the impromptu dance lesson.

Padmé closed her eyes and kissed him back, and it was several long minutes before she managed to force herself to put her hand on his chest and gently push him away. “You should get going before Ahsoka starts getting suspicious,” she said, half-joking and half-serious. In the two months that had passed since Ahsoka’s accusations, Anakin had been trying to be in and out of Padmé’s room as quickly as possible whenever Ahsoka was on night duty, as she was that week.

Anakin sighed and pulled her in for a hug. “Goodnight, then. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“I’m counting down the hours,” Padmé said, giving him another peck on the lips and sending him on his way.

The next day passed quickly, and around eight Padmé knocked on Bail’s office door. “Come in,” he called, and she did so. He looked at her in surprise. “Padmé? Is everything all right? I was just about to head home for the night.”

“Bail, I’m so sorry, but we’re having an emergency cabinet meeting in the East Room now,” Padmé said apologetically. “Hopefully it shouldn’t take long, but we really need you there.”

Bail looked disappointed, but he obligingly followed her out of the room. “Why on earth is it in the East Room?” he asked.

“I have no idea, that’s just what Satine said in her text.” Fortunately, Bail seemed to accept the explanation easily enough, though Padmé did have a text from Satine to back her story up if he decided to question it.

They chatted amiably as they walked, and Padmé did her best to keep a straight face when they finally arrived at the East Room. She pushed the door and led the way inside and—

“Surprise!”

Bail jumped about a mile, and then he burst out laughing as all the guests cheered and applauded. Breha, who was standing right by the door, laughed too and pulled him in for a kiss. “Happy birthday, darling,” she said.

“I can’t believe you did this,” he replied, shaking his head and smiling. He turned to look accusingly at Padmé. “And I can’t believe you lured me here under false pretenses.”

Padmé grinned. “Well, if you’d rather go to an emergency cabinet meeting, by all means…”

“No, I think I’m good,” Bail said as Breha laughed again. He gave his wife another kiss. “Thank you so much for doing this. I love you.”

“Love you too,” said Breha. “But I can’t take all the credit, Padmé actually did quite a lot of work—”

“Oh, no, all I did was figure out how to get him here,” Padmé said. “You did most of the actual planning. Everything looks great, by the way.”

“Yes, you really did a wonderful job,” Bail agreed. “Well, I should go thank everyone for coming.”

Padmé gave him a hug. “Happy birthday, Bail. And try not to drink too much, seeing as we actually do have a cabinet meeting tomorrow morning.”

Laughing, the Organas moved to start mingling with the guests, and Padmé headed off in the opposite direction to find someone else to chat with. She wanted to make a beeline for the corner Anakin was standing in, but she forced herself to have some restraint. She was definitely planning to go talk to him at some point, but it would look weird if the first person she talked to at a social function was her bodyguard instead of a guest.

“Padmé!”

Padmé turned and smiled as she saw Satine Kryze approaching. “Satine, how are you?”

“Looking forward to getting to let my hair down a little for a few hours,” she replied, and Padmé chuckled in agreement.

After a several minutes of small talk, Satine started beckoning someone else over, though Padmé was quite a bit shorter than her and couldn’t see who it was over the heads of the crowd. A moment later Riyo Chuchi appeared. “Hello, Madam President, Secretary Kryze,” she said politely.

“Honestly, Riyo, I’ve told you a dozen times to call me Padmé,” Padmé chided.

“And to call me Satine,” Satine added.

Riyo gave them an embarrassed smile; she was relatively new to the Senate and still got much more caught up in formalities than the older senators whom Padmé and Satine had known for many years. “Right, sorry. I keep forgetting.”

It’s all right, my boyfriend still accidentally calls me ma’am in bed sometimes. It was on the tip of Padmé’s tongue but she swallowed it and instead wordlessly smiled back, feeling a sudden pang of sadness that she couldn’t joke around and gossip about her love life with her friends the way she would normally.

Just then a staff member passed by with a tray of champagne, and all three of them took a glass. “To Bail,” said Padmé, holding her glass up for a toast. “And to not having to do any work tonight.”

Satine and Riyo laughed and clinked their glasses against hers before taking a sip. “It’s a lovely party,” Riyo said. “Thank you for inviting me.”

“I’m glad you could make it,” Padmé said. “It’s always nice to spend time with fellow politicians in a more casual setting.”

“The politicians we like, anyway,” Satine said wryly, eliciting more snickers.

They ended up chatting for another twenty minutes before Satine said, “Padmé, do you know if Agent Kenobi is here tonight?”

Padmé smirked at her and raised her eyebrows suggestively. “Yes, he’s around here somewhere.”

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“No reason. Just that I know all about you and Agent Kenobi.”

“What do you mean? There’s nothing to know.”

“That’s not what he said.”

“Really? What did he say?” Satine asked eagerly, and Padmé and Riyo burst out laughing.

“Well, he didn’t say anything per se, but Anakin told me he’s had feelings for you for years and Obi-Wan got so embarrassed that he might as well have verbally confirmed it,” Padmé said, fondly remembering again the night of the gala where she and Anakin had danced for the first time.

Satine looked like she was trying to suppress a smile, though she wasn’t entirely successful. “You really think he has feelings for me?”

“Definitely.”

“Are you sure?”

“Ninety-nine percent sure, yeah,” Padmé said. “Come on, you’ve seen the way he acts around you, it’s obvious. You know how he feels as well as I do.”

“Well, I thought so, but he still hasn’t asked me out so I was starting to second-guess myself,” Satine said defensively.

Padmé scoffed. “You’re a modern twenty-first century woman, Satine, why don’t you just ask him out?”

“I’m worried he’d say no. He’s so uptight about breaking rules.”

“Having feelings for someone isn’t breaking any rules,” Padmé said, wishing she could shout that to the world so she and Anakin could be together openly without any backlash.

“Besides, there’s nothing wrong with you or me dating people on Padmé’s security team,” Riyo said.

“‘You or me’? You’re interested in dating someone on Padmé’s security team too?” Satine said, looking highly interested.

Riyo turned bright red. “No, I-I just meant hypothetically,” she stammered.

“Oh, really? Are you sure you weren’t thinking of yourself and, say, that agent standing over by the buffet table?” Padmé said slyly, delighted when Riyo involuntarily glanced over towards Ahsoka and turned even redder.

“I wasn’t—I just meant—”

“You know, Riyo, after Anakin and Ahsoka told me all about Obi-Wan’s crush on Satine, Obi-Wan got back at them by telling me all about Ahsoka’s crush.” Padmé paused for dramatic effect before saying, “On you.”

Riyo’s breath caught. “You’re—are you serious?” she asked, wide-eyed.

“Very serious,” Padmé said solemnly. “Cross my heart and hope to die. Ahsoka really likes you.”

Riyo looked back over at Ahsoka, who quickly looked away and studiously pretended to be watching something on the other side of the room. “Do you think—do you think I should go say something to her?” Riyo said, looking hopeful and timid at the same time.

“I absolutely think so,” said Padmé, smiling. “In fact, I think the both of you need to go find your respective agents right now and tell them how you feel, because Anakin told me he’s getting sick of their whining and pining over you.”

“Anakin seems to be telling you an awful lot of things,” Satine observed.

Padmé’s heart skipped a beat, but she said calmly, “Well, he does follow me around everywhere I go. Conversations are bound to happen.”

“I feel like Satine and I need to set you up with someone since you’ve set us both up so well,” Riyo said.

Padmé laughed and shook her head. “Trust me, I’m not looking for anything right now.” Seeing as she already had a boyfriend and all. “Oh, look, there’s Obi-Wan,” she said, pointing towards the opposite wall where she’d just managed to make Obi-Wan out through the crowd. She put a hand on Satine and Riyo’s backs and started pushing them off in their respective directions. “Go on, then. I don’t want to see either of you again until you have some results, got it?”

Now that she was alone again, Padmé proceeded to make her way through the room, stopping to chat with various people here and there. She spent a long time catching up with her old friend and mentor, Senator Onaconda Farr, and happily agreed when he asked her to dance. Bail and Breha were dancing already, as were several other couples—though not Obi-Wan and Satine or Riyo and Ahsoka yet, Padmé noted in disappointment. But both pairs did still appear to be deep in conversation with each other when she looked over, which was very promising.

Padmé danced with Senator Farr for two songs, and at the end of the second she heard someone saying, “May I cut in?”

Butterflies swarmed in her stomach as she turned and saw Anakin standing there. “Of course,” she said, trying not to sound too eager. She turned back to Senator Farr. “It was so nice to see you again, Ono. I hope you’ll come back and visit me soon, I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you, too. And I’ll definitely drop by again next time I’m in DC,” Senator Farr replied, smiling. “Assuming you have enough spare time that I wouldn’t be a bother.”

“Nonsense, you could never be a bother,” Padmé assured him with an answering smile.

Senator Farr bid her goodbye and headed over for the buffet table, and then Anakin was taking her hand and sliding his other arm around her waist just as she’d taught him the night before. “You’ve known Senator Farr for a long time, haven’t you, ma’am?” he said, taking a formal and neutral tone in case anyone nearby was listening.

“Yes, he’s an old family friend. I’ve known him as long as I can remember.”

Anakin moved imperceptibly closer to her. “You look beautiful tonight,” he murmured, quietly enough that even Padmé could barely make it out over the music.

She chuckled. “I’m just wearing everyday work clothes, seeing as Bail might’ve been suspicious if I’d stopped by his office wearing a ballgown.” Breha had wisely thought to specify business casual attire on the invitation, figuring it wouldn’t do for Bail to be underdressed at his own birthday party.

“Well, you look beautiful no matter what you’re wearing,” Anakin said stubbornly. “Or if you’re not wearing anything. Especially then.”

“Ani, people will hear,” Padmé scolded, though she couldn’t help but smile. “Anyway, you look very nice yourself.”

“I wear this literally every single day.”

“I know, and you look good in it literally every single day. But for the record, I would kill to see you in casual clothes.”

Anakin laughed. “I’ll do my best to coincidentally run into you on my next day off when I’m wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt.”

“Mmm, please do.”

“Are you seriously getting turned on by the idea of me in sweatpants?”

“It’s just because it’s different than the norm,” Padmé said defensively. “If I’d only ever seen you wear sweatpants, then I’d be getting turned on by the idea of you in a suit.”

He raised an eyebrow. “So now you’re saying you don’t get turned on by me in a suit? Even though that’s all I ever wear? You wound me, Madam President.”

She grinned. “Obviously I’m always turned on by you. I thought that would go without saying.”

Anakin matched her smirk with one of his own. “Likewise. I promise you, if we were alone right now…”


Obi-Wan sighed. “What is he doing?”

Satine followed his gaze and saw that Padmé was dancing with Anakin—or rather, they were swaying in place as Anakin leaned down to murmur something in Padmé’s ear that made her grin broadly. And Satine was pretty sure she was blushing too, though admittedly they were too far away to really tell.

“Anakin’s become close friends with the president, and it’s very inappropriate if you ask me,” Obi-Wan continued, shaking his head. “It completely goes against every bit of protocol and etiquette that was drilled into us during training. President Valorum would never have allowed such a thing.”

“Maybe not, but Padmé seems to be perfectly fine with it,” Satine remarked.

“Still, we’re supposed to be professional at all times. Friendship is out of the question.”

“That looks like more than friendship to me,” Satine said as Padmé giggled and playfully swatted Anakin’s arm while he grinned down at her.

Obi-Wan looked confused. “What? What do you mean?”

She shrugged. “Just that I don’t act that way around my friends.”

Obi-Wan’s eyes widened. “You think there’s something romantic going on between them? I hadn’t even thought of that.” He looked back over at the pair, his expression troubled. “The scandal that would cause…has the president said anything about it to you?”

“No, not at all. I’m sure it’s nothing, actually. Padmé does always get a little friendly when she’s had a few drinks,” Satine said quickly, realizing it wasn’t fair to gossip like this with Obi-Wan when he’d be obligated to report any hint of inappropriate conduct on Anakin’s part back to their boss. Besides, Padmé was one of her closest friends and she hadn’t said anything to Satine about a relationship with Anakin, which meant one of two things: either there was nothing going on or there was, but Padmé didn’t want anyone to know. It wasn’t Satine’s place to carelessly start rumors that would be false and/or harmful to her friend. Though as she watched Padmé and Anakin together and thought back to how often Padmé talked about him, she still couldn’t help but wonder…

But that reminded her of her conversation with Padmé earlier that evening, which in turn reminded her that she was supposed to be over here asking Obi-Wan out but still had failed to move past small talk. Satine took a deep breath and looked at him. “Obi-Wan, I actually came over here to say something to you. The thing is—”

“Sorry, could you hold on a moment?” Obi-Wan interrupted, indicating his earpiece. Satine obligingly fell silent and watched as he listened carefully, then nodded and held up his wrist to speak into the microphone hidden under his sleeve. “Yes, I’ll be right there.”

He looked back up at Satine with an apologetic expression. “I’m so sorry, but apparently there’s a situation with some intoxicated guests out in the hall that I have to go defuse.”

“Oh. Of course,” Satine said, trying to keep her disappointment out of her tone. “Good luck with that.”

“Thanks. We’ll talk later, about whatever you wanted to say?” Obi-Wan added.

Satine nodded and glumly watched him walk away. She knew she wouldn’t be able to find the nerve to say anything at a later time when she was lacking the potent combination of alcohol and Padmé’s encouragement; she and Obi-Wan had been casually flirting and dancing around each other for so long that the prospect of finally actually confessing her feelings was impossibly daunting. She grabbed another glass of champagne and downed half of it in one swig. Hopefully Riyo was having better luck with Ahsoka.


Riyo, as it turned out, was not having better luck with Ahsoka. They’d been blushing and stuttering their way through painfully awkward small talk for at least half an hour, neither wanting to end the conversation but both unwilling to venture into more dangerous discussion topics. Ahsoka, I have feelings for you, Riyo said in her head for the thousandth time. It was only six words, why couldn’t she say it? There was a break in the conversation, it was the perfect time to say something. She started working up her courage, and then—

“I hear there’s supposed to be a hot spell next week,” Ahsoka said apropos of nothing, and Riyo’s courage failed her yet again.

“That’s too bad,” she said, palms sweating. “I was hoping it would start to cool down soon.”

“Me too. It’s unseasonably warm for September.”

“I know.”

They fell into silence once more. Come on, Riyo, say something!

“Ahsoka, I—”

“Riyo, there’s something I wanted to—”

“Oh, you go first.”

“No, no, you first.”

“Ahsoka, I insist,” Riyo said, so firmly that Ahsoka conceded.

“Okay,” said Ahsoka, looking nervous. “I-I just wanted to say…I was wondering if—if maybe you’d like to grab coffee sometime?”

Riyo gaped at her. “You mean—you mean like a date?” she managed after a moment, heart pounding.

Ahsoka blushed and looked down at her shoes. “Well, yeah. If you want. But it’s fine if not, I just thought I’d ask—”

“Ahsoka, I would love to go on a date with you,” Riyo said, hardly daring to believe this was really happening.

Ahsoka jerked her head back up to stare at her, mouth falling open slightly. “Really?”

Riyo nodded and gave her a shy smile. “That’s what I was going to say a second ago, actually. I-I really like you.”

Ahsoka gazed at her in amazement for a few moments before a wide smile spread across her face. “I really like you too.”

They stood there smiling goofily at each other for a long time, and then Riyo managed to remind herself that she was a dignified U.S. senator, not a lovesick teenager, and say, “Well, I should probably go talk to some other people—”

“Oh, yes, of course,” Ahsoka said quickly. “I’ll text you later about—about the date. Would Saturday work?”

“I think so,” Riyo said, beaming. “I’ll see you then.”


Padmé reconvened with Satine and Riyo towards the end of the party and heard about their respective adventures. She rejoiced with an excited Riyo and consoled a gloomy Satine, and then she went over to talk to the Organas again for a while before leaving the party and heading upstairs to bed.

“So it looks like Riyo and Ahsoka are finally getting somewhere,” Padmé said happily as Anakin checked her room.

“I know,” he called from the bathroom. “Ahsoka called me on her headset to tell me all about it and was totally unapologetic when I said the headsets are for work only and why couldn’t she just walk across the room and talk to me face-to-face.”

Padmé laughed and slipped on a nightgown. Anakin returned and pulled her in for a kiss. “I wish I could go on a real date with you,” Padmé said, wistfully imagining what it would be like, imagining the pair of them sitting down to dinner together at a nice restaurant, getting to spend actual quality time together…

“I know. Someday,” Anakin promised. “Someday everything will be out in the open and we’ll be able to do whatever we want without me getting fired and you being all over the tabloids.”

Padmé sighed. “I hope so.” Now that they’d been together three or so months and the newness was starting to wear off, she found herself wondering if they would ever be able to come clean about everything. Maybe if Anakin quit his job, but she couldn’t ask him to do that. And even so, it would be another three and a half years until Padmé’s presidency ended and she was no longer as much in the spotlight—seven and a half if she got reelected like she was hoping to. They couldn’t hide their relationship for seven and a half years.

But Padmé pushed all that from her mind and kissed Anakin goodnight, then finished getting ready for bed and climbed under the covers. There was no use worrying about the future. She just needed to enjoy the present and let her and Anakin’s relationship take them wherever it took them. They’d find a solution eventually. Right?

Chapter Text

One night in mid-October found Anakin unexpectedly Skyping Shmi, who had texted him earlier that day to say she had something important to talk to him about and could he Skype her as soon as possible please. “Hey, Mom,” he said, stifling a yawn; it was nearly midnight and he’d had a long day but nighttime was the only time he was available to Skype. “Everything okay?”

“Everything’s much better than okay,” she said, beaming at him. Then she held up her left hand, revealing a ring on her fourth finger. “Cliegg and I are engaged!”

Anakin gaped at her; that was certainly not what he’d been expecting. But then he broke out into a broad smile as well. “Wow, that’s amazing! Congratulations!” he exclaimed, the utter joy on his mother’s face making him smile even wider. “When did this happen? Tell me everything.”

Shmi happily recited the tale; apparently, Cliegg had proposed the night before but she’d figured it was too late to call Anakin since he was three hours ahead of them. “I wouldn’t have minded being woken up for this,” Anakin insisted, still grinning. “I’m so happy for you, Mom. I wish I could be there to celebrate with you guys.”

“So do I. I miss you so much, Ani,” Shmi replied. “Do you have your work schedule handy? We were thinking we could plan the wedding for one of your weekends off—”

“Don’t worry about that,” Anakin interrupted. “I’m sure Mace and Pad—uh, President Amidala will be happy to work something out to let me take extra time off. You just pick whatever day you want and I’ll be there.”

“Are you sure? Because it’s really no trouble.”

“I’m sure. This is your wedding, not mine,” said Anakin. “What month are you thinking of having it? Or have you not decided yet?”

“We were thinking in just a month or two, actually,” Shmi said. “We’re too old to bother with a big expensive wedding, so we’re planning to just go down to city hall with our families and a few close friends and then have everyone back at our house for some food afterwards.”

“Oh,” Anakin said, surprised. “Is that really what you want? If money’s a problem I have plenty saved up that you could use—”

“No, Ani, that’s your money,” Shmi said firmly. “And I promise, this is really what we want. We don’t want all the stress of planning a wedding, we just want to get married. That’s all we care about. And the simpler the ceremony, the sooner we can do it.”

Anakin conceded the point, and they continued talking until he was yawning so much that Shmi insisted he hang up and go to bed. But Anakin was too busy thinking about the news to fall asleep. His mother, getting married…it was a strange thought. Of course he was happy for her and Cliegg, but he couldn’t quite shake the feeling that it was the end of an era.

He told Padmé all about it the next night when he was checking her room. “That’s wonderful news,” she said, smiling. “Tell your mom congratulations from me.”

“I appreciate the sentiment, but I think my mom might think it was a little weird to be congratulated by the president of the United States,” Anakin said dryly.

“Oh. True.”

“So I’m not sure exactly when the wedding’s going to be, but my mom said they’d hopefully have it figured out within the next couple weeks.”

Padmé waved a hand. “It’s no problem, Obi-Wan will easily be able to fill in for you for a few days.”

Anakin nodded. “I wish you could come,” he said softly. “I wish you could meet my mom. You’d get along great.”

Padmé smiled sadly. “Someday.”

“Someday,” Anakin repeated. Their relationship had so many somedays, and sometimes he couldn’t help but wonder if someday would ever come.

“How are you feeling about all this?” Padmé asked a minute later. “Weddings are so exciting, but it must feel a little weird too, right?”

“Yeah, kinda,” he admitted. “She’s so happy, and I’m happy that she’s happy, but at the same time…I don’t know, I guess sometimes I get nostalgic for the days when I was still a kid. I mean, our lives are so much better now that we’re not worrying about money all the time, and I’m happier living out here because I hated Arizona, but still. Everything’s changed so much. And I know we’re both way happier now than we were back then, but I can’t help but miss when it was just the two of us.”

Padmé took his hand and squeezed it. “I get that,” she said. “I remember when my sister first got married and had kids, it felt weird because it was like, suddenly she had this whole new family and it felt like I wasn’t a part of it anymore. But when I mentioned that to her one day, she told me it was the stupidest thing she’d ever heard because I was her sister and nothing could ever change that, no matter how far we lived from each other or how many other people joined our family. It was still our family.”

Anakin smiled at her, immediately cheering up. Padmé was right; just because their family was growing didn’t mean he and Shmi would suddenly become less close with each other. “You know, I did always wish I had a sibling growing up, and now I’ll have a stepbrother,” he said.

“That’s great. You get to skip over the whole childhood-sibling-rivalry thing and go right into the part where you’re best friends as adults.”

He laughed. “You and Sola had a childhood sibling rivalry?”

“Oh, yeah, we didn’t start getting along until she went off to college and we were no longer living under the same roof,” Padmé said, grinning. “She insists it was all my fault because I was annoying when I was little, but really it was her fault because she was always mean to me.”

“I’m not sure if I believe that.”

“She was!” Padmé said indignantly. “She’s four years older than me. The older sibling’s always the mean one.”

“Yeah, because the younger sibling’s the baby of the family who can do no wrong.”

“I beg to differ, the precious firstborn is the one who can do no wrong.”

“Well, imagine how poor Sola felt. She was probably a nice normal kid and you were, like, a child prodigy. I would hate to be compared to you because you’re inhumanly perfect.”

Padmé scoffed. “I am not, and I wasn’t a child prodigy. I was normal too.”

“You wrote an essay in third grade about how you wanted to be president.”

“Every third grader wants to be president. That’s totally normal.”

“Really? Because I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a pro athlete or something. Besides,” Anakin added, “probably one percent or less of people actually end up being what they wanted to be in third grade.”

“Hey, it’s not my fault ninety-nine percent of people give up on their dreams too easily.”

Anakin shook his head, grinning, and leaned in to kiss her, thus ending the conversation.

Shmi and Cliegg settled on December twelfth for the wedding, and Anakin’s flight landed at the Phoenix airport in the afternoon on the eighth; he’d figured it would be best to spend a few days with his family before the wedding and then go home the day after so as to leave Shmi and Cliegg alone in their newlywed bliss.

“Ani!”

Anakin turned his head and beamed as he saw Shmi standing a ways away with Cliegg, Owen, and Beru, whom he hadn’t met yet but recognized from pictures he’d seen. He hurried over to them and was immediately enveloped in a bone-crushing hug by his mother. “Oh, Ani, I’ve missed you so much,” Shmi said, kissing him on both cheeks. “Have you gotten taller since the last time you were here?”

“Very unlikely, seeing as I stopped growing about fifteen years ago,” Anakin joked, hugging her back. “Maybe you’re just getting shorter ’cause you’re old.”

“Is that any way to talk to the bride-to-be?” Shmi scolded, though she was laughing too.

At last Shmi stepped aside to let Cliegg shake Anakin’s hand. “Good to see you again, Anakin,” he said. “I’m glad you could make it.”

“Me too. Congratulations.” Anakin paused, then said a bit tentatively, “I’m excited to have you as my stepdad.”

To his relief, Cliegg smiled. “And I’m excited to have you as my stepson.”

Then Anakin shook hands with Owen as well. “I’ve always wanted a brother,” Owen said, grinning at him.

Anakin laughed. “So have I.”

“This is my girlfriend, Beru Whitesun,” Owen said next, indicating Beru.

Anakin went in for yet another handshake. “It’s really nice to meet you, Beru.”

“You too,” she said warmly. “Shmi’s told me so much about you. You’re really a bodyguard for the president herself?”

Quite a bit more than that, actually. “Yeah,” Anakin said, and they all laughed at Beru’s awestruck expression.

“Do you talk to her a lot?” Beru asked.

“Oh, yeah, we’re good friends,” Anakin said, smiling.

“Wow,” she said, wide-eyed. “Oh, can you thank her for me for raising the minimum wage? It’s helped out everyone I know so much—”

“I’m not really supposed to talk about politics with her,” Anakin said quickly. Not that he didn’t already do a whole host of things with Padmé that he wasn’t supposed to. “But I’m sure she’d be thrilled to hear that she’s been able to do some good for lots of people.” Then, feeling bold, he added, “By the way, Mom and Cliegg, she told me to congratulate you guys for her.”

Now it was their turn to look awestruck. “Did she really?” Shmi said. “You’re making that up.”

“I’m not. I asked her if it was all right if I took some time off to go to my mom’s wedding and she said ‘no problem, tell them congratulations for me.’”

If Shmi looked that astonished about being congratulated by the president on her wedding, Anakin could only imagine how she’d look if she knew her son was dating her.

They spent the next few days preparing for the wedding, dragging every last bit of (disclosable) information about what it was like to be on presidential protection detail out of Anakin, and generally catching up. Anakin hadn’t really thought much about how hard it would be to spend several days with his family and not tell them about his relationship with Padmé, but it turned out it was very hard. Padmé had become such a huge part of his life in the almost six months they’d been together and it felt wrong to hide that from his family, but he just didn’t want to risk it. Anakin consoled himself with the thought that the revelation that he was dating the president of the United States would most certainly take the spotlight away from the wedding, and he didn’t want to steal his mother’s thunder like that. So, really, it was for the best that he couldn’t say anything to them about it.

The day of the wedding was sunny and cool (though still much warmer than December in DC). Despite Shmi and Cliegg’s insistence on keeping everything as simple and stress-free as possible, wedding day jitters abounded as everyone ran back and forth through the house in varying states of readiness, trying to accomplish several last-minute tasks that suddenly just had to be done before the ceremony.

It was amidst this chaos that the doorbell rang. “I’ll get it,” Anakin called, seeing as he was fully dressed in his wedding clothes and had been sitting on the couch for ten minutes waiting for the others to be ready.

He went and opened the door, and his jaw dropped. “Kitster?”

Kitster beamed back at him. “Hey, Ani. Long time no see.”

Anakin laughed in delight and threw his arms around him. “What are you doing here? I thought you were still up in Flagstaff running your hotel.”

“I am, but your mom invited me to the wedding,” he said. “We decided it would be fun to surprise you, so we didn’t tell you I was coming.”

“Well, I’m definitely surprised,” Anakin said, letting go of him at last and stepping back, though there was no wiping the huge grin off either of their faces. “Wanna come in? I should warn you, it’s kind of a warzone in here.”

Kitster laughed but followed Anakin inside nonetheless, and they sat down on the couch together. “So, anything new since the last time we talked?” Anakin asked. “Hotel still doing well?”

“Yeah, business is booming.”

“That’s great. And how are things with Tamora?”

“I’m actually planning to propose to her soon,” Kitster confided.

“Wow, really? That’s amazing,” Anakin said, smiling. “You think she’ll say yes?”

Kitster snorted. “Would I be asking her if I didn’t?”

“True. Well, I guess I’ll be coming out here for another wedding pretty soon.”

“Who knows? Maybe we’ll elope.”

“You would dare get married without me, your oldest and best friend, in attendance?”

“If she wants to elope, I’ll just say ‘no way, Anakin would kill me if I got married without him.’” They both laughed. “So what about your love life?” Kitster said next. “The dating scene’s got to be better in DC than it is out here.”

Anakin hesitated. Surely he could trust Kitster, his oldest and best friend, to keep the secret. “Well, actually, now that you mention it…” My reputation would be dragged through the mud if anyone found out, and you’d get fired. “Uh, now that you mention it…it’s really not much better,” Anakin improvised quickly, though he didn’t miss Kitster’s raised eyebrow. “Nope. Not at all.”

“Really? No hot politicians walking around?”

“Nah, most of them are super old.” Technically, that was true; Padmé was definitely the exception, not the rule.

Owen and Beru came downstairs just then, to Anakin’s relief. “What are you guys talking about?” Owen asked as they settled themselves on the couch opposite Anakin and Kitster.

“Nothing much, just catching up,” Anakin said hastily.

“Actually, we’re talking about Anakin’s tragic love life,” Kitster replied. “Or should I say, lack thereof.”

Anakin glared at him and the other two laughed. “I wouldn’t call it tragic, just surprising. I mean, how is no one interested in him, looking like that? That scar on your face is incredibly dashing,” Owen said jokingly.

“How’d you get it?” Beru said. “Ooh, was it from protecting the president from assassination?”

“More like tripping and falling during my first week of training and slicing my face open on some broken glass on the ground,” Anakin said, making the others guffaw.

“I’d go with Beru’s version in the future, that’s much more attractive,” Kitster said wisely.

Fortunately, they moved on from teasing Anakin and chatted for only a few more minutes before Shmi and Cliegg were finally ready. They all headed to city hall, where they were met by several friends Shmi and Cliegg had invited. Though it was relatively informal and brief, the ceremony was beautiful—Anakin may or may not have cried a little bit. Or a lot. Then everyone returned to the Skywalker-Lars house and partied late into the night, which Anakin realized in hindsight was a mistake. A four and a half hour flight with a hangover was one of the worst things he’d ever experienced.

Not to mention that he was more than a little upset to be leaving his family, whom he probably wouldn’t see in person again for a long time. When he’d been a regular agent on Valorum’s team, the shift cycles meant that he was on duty every day for several weeks in a row (morning shift, afternoon shift, evening shift, night shift) and then had a full week off, so he’d been able to fly out to Arizona a few times a year around birthdays and holidays. Now, though, he only had weekends off every so often, and it just wasn’t enough time to make the trip worth it.

But Anakin’s gloominess (and hangover) was somewhat lessened by the prospect of seeing Padmé again once he got home. They’d been texting throughout his trip, but it wasn’t the same as physically being in each other’s presence. He couldn’t wait until they were alone that night and he could kiss her and touch her and make love to her…well, assuming Ahsoka wasn’t on the evening shift. Anakin didn’t think she was that week, but his time off had made him lose track of things a bit.

By the time the plane landed and Anakin had arrived back at the White House that evening, his hangover was gone and his sadness at leaving his family had been almost completely replaced by anticipation of seeing Padmé. He brought his bags up to his room, then stopped by Mace’s office to let him know he was back. Mace informed him that Padmé was in the Oval Office, so Anakin made his way over there.

Obi-Wan was out in the hall with Ahsoka. So they were on the evening shift. Dammit. “Anakin, you’re back,” Obi-Wan said, smiling. “How was your trip? How was the wedding?”

“Both great,” Anakin replied. “How were things here?”

“Same old, same old,” Ahsoka said. “You didn’t miss anything.”

“Good to know.” He gestured at the door and said casually, “I’m just going to let the president know I’m back.”

“She said she has a ton of paperwork and doesn’t want to be disturbed,” Obi-Wan said.

“Oh, I’m sure she won’t mind,” Anakin said, hurrying inside and closing the door behind him as Obi-Wan and Ahsoka watched doubtfully.

Padmé looked up at the noise, and her frown immediately turned into a smile when she saw who the intruder was. “Ani!” she said, throwing her pen down and getting up and hurrying towards him.

Anakin wrapped his arms around her and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “Hi. Missed you.”

“I missed you too,” she said, leaning up to kiss him on the lips. “How was the wedding?”

“Perfect. Everything went off without a hitch.” Before she could ask any more questions, Anakin bent down and kissed her again with a sudden urgency that had her sighing into his mouth.

It was only when he slid his hands under her shirt that Padmé drew back. “Ani, wait, we can’t do this in my office,” she protested. “Anyone could walk in.”

Anakin sighed in defeat. But then he thought of something. “Didn’t you tell Obi-Wan and Ahsoka not to let anyone disturb you for a while?”

Padmé narrowed her eyes thoughtfully. “That’s true…”

“And I don’t think I can wait until later tonight, to be honest. Or til next week since Ahsoka’s on the evening shift this week.”

A long pause. Then: “Neither can I.” Padmé pulled him in for a fierce kiss. “You have five minutes,” she murmured against his lips.

Anakin grinned triumphantly. “Challenge accepted.”

He tugged her over to her desk and carelessly swept all the papers off it (which made Padmé huff in annoyance), then picked her up and set her down on top of it. She started frantically unbuttoning his shirt, but Anakin was too busy kissing her to bother shrugging it off once it was fully unbuttoned. He slipped his hand under her skirt and started touching her through her panties.

Padmé moaned appreciatively. “Get these off,” she said, wriggling her hips. Anakin obligingly pulled her panties off and tossed them on the floor, and then Padmé was biting back a whimper as his hand made contact with bare skin. Anakin was utterly lost in the moment, in her lips on his, in the growing wetness under his fingers, in the heat building up in his own core, in the way she was breathlessly begging him for more every time they stopped kissing for air.

So lost in all that, in fact, that he didn’t hear the soft knock on the door.

“Madam Pres—oh!”

Anakin jerked back as if he’d been burned and Padmé jumped off the desk, hastily tugging her skirt down. Both of them turned to gaze in sheer horror at the three people who had just walked in the door and were currently gaping at them: Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and Satine.

Chapter Text

“I-I thought I said I didn’t want to be disturbed,” Padmé stammered in a panic as Anakin wiped his hand on his pants in a would-be discreet manner and started buttoning up his shirt with nearly inhuman speed.

“Yes, ma’am, you did, I’m—I’m so sorry, it’s just that Satine said she only needed to speak with you for a quick minute and I thought surely you’d be able to take a break from paperwork for one minute, especially since Anakin was already in here talking to you,” Obi-Wan said in a rush, looking almost as mortified as Padmé felt.

She glanced over at the others; Satine’s expression matched Obi-Wan’s, but Ahsoka was staring at some point on the ground and looking like she was trying to suppress a smirk. Padmé followed her gaze and realized she’d spotted her discarded panties. Face flaming, she tried to nudge them under her desk with her foot as subtly as possible, though she wasn’t entirely successful if Ahsoka’s widening grin was anything to go by.

“We’re terribly sorry for bursting in on you, ma’am,” Obi-Wan was saying. “We’ll just go and come back another—”

“Wait,” Padmé interrupted quickly. She couldn’t let them go without making them swear not to tell anyone about this…but on the other hand, she couldn’t have that conversation without at least putting her underwear back on. “If you all could please wait outside for just a minute? I’d like to speak with you before I let you go.”

Obi-Wan nodded vigorously. “Of course. We’re so sorry,” he repeated, then practically bolted outside with Satine and Ahsoka in tow.

Padmé groaned and hid her face in her hands. “Oh my God. Oh my God. I can’t believe this is happening. Why the hell did I let you talk me into this?”

“Okay, well, at least you’re not going to get any flak for it. They’re way too polite to say anything to your face, but you can bet Obi-Wan’s going to tear me apart the second you’re out of earshot,” said Anakin. Padmé looked up and saw that he had finished with his shirt and was now redoing his tie, his face bright red and wearing a distressed expression.

Her heart softened and she rested her hand on his shoulder. “You’re right. I’m sorry for putting you in this position. If there’s anything I can do to help, like forbid Obi-Wan from yelling at you—”

“No, that would just make things worse. I don’t want him to think you’re, like, giving me special treatment in return for sex or something,” Anakin said, shaking his head. But then he sighed. “You were right, though. This is my fault. I shouldn’t have suggested this in the first place, it was so stupid.”

“Well, I agreed,” she reminded him. “We’re both equally to blame. Anyway, what’s done is done. As long as we can get them to promise not to tell anyone, it’ll be fine. And Obi-Wan can’t stay mad at you forever, he’ll get over it soon enough. Plus, now that he and Ahsoka know the truth, maybe we won’t have to do quite as much sneaking around when we want to spend time together while they’re on duty.”

Anakin looked very doubtful. “I guess.”

Padmé went to put her panties back on, then did her best to fix her hair and smooth out her clothes before calling Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and Satine back in. They shut the door behind them, and an intensely awkward silence reigned for a moment before Padmé cleared her throat and said diplomatically, “I would like to apologize for what you just walked in on. It was unprofessional and inappropriate, and we’re so sorry for making you uncomfortable.”

She glanced meaningfully at Anakin, who whispered “Sorry” and went back to staring at the floor.

“We’re the ones who should apologize, ma’am,” said Obi-Wan. “You asked Ahsoka and me not to let anyone disturb you, and we disobeyed your orders.”

“Well, what’s done is done,” Padmé said again. “But there’s one more thing I’d like to say. I know this is a lot to ask, but we would both greatly appreciate it if you didn’t mention this to anyone. As I’m sure you realize, our relationship would probably, um, raise some eyebrows if it were to become public knowledge, which is why we’ve been trying to be discreet about it.”

“We understand,” Obi-Wan said quickly. “We won’t say anything.” Satine and Ahsoka murmured their agreement.

“Thank you,” Padmé said, relieved. She turned to Satine. “Now, Satine, what did you want to speak with me about?”


Unfortunately, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka’s shift didn’t end until midnight and so, just as Anakin had been expecting, they accosted him the second he shut Padmé’s bedroom door behind him around eleven o’clock (after a speedy trip in and out, seeing as he and Padmé had still been too embarrassed for anything more than a quick goodnight kiss). “What were you thinking?” Obi-Wan demanded.

“What are you talking about?” Anakin said, feigning innocence.

“He’s talking about when we found you in the middle of the Oval Office with your hand up the president’s skirt a couple hours ago,” Ahsoka said helpfully.

Anakin felt his cheeks heat up, and Obi-Wan tutted disapprovingly at Ahsoka’s bluntness. “That’s not—no one was supposed to see that,” Anakin managed after a moment.

“Clearly,” Ahsoka said under her breath.

“And it was a one-time mistake,” he added. “We’ve never been that careless before.”

“Before? How long has this been going on?” Obi-Wan asked, raising his eyebrows.

Anakin glowered at him for a minute before muttering, “Six months.”

“Six months?” Obi-Wan said in disbelief. “Of all the—Anakin, you’ve always been reckless, but having a secret affair with the president—”

“You’re the one who’s so desperate for Satine to like you that you’ll disobey a direct order from Pad—from the president just because she batted her eyes and said please!” Anakin shot back, and the scowl that appeared on Obi-Wan’s face let him know that he had indeed correctly guessed the other man’s motivations earlier that evening.

“That has nothing to do with this—”

“Actually, it has everything to do with this, seeing as—”

“Okay, let’s all calm down,” Ahsoka intervened, stepping between them and giving them each a stern look. “You sound like twelve-year-olds fighting over their crushes.”

Obi-Wan closed his eyes for a moment, visibly praying for patience, then opened them again and said, “Anakin, all I’m saying is that sleeping with the president is a very bad idea.”

“And all I’m saying is that it’s none of your business,” Anakin said waspishly. He tried to push past them, but Obi-Wan stopped him and he heaved a sigh. “Look, I’ve had a long day of traveling and now my shift’s over and I’m tired. Can I please go to bed?”

“Not until you understand how inappropriate your little affair is,” Obi-Wan informed him.

Anakin glared at him. “It’s not an affair, Obi-Wan, you’re making it sound so—so sordid. We’re both single, consenting adults, so I don’t see what’s so wrong about us having a relationship.”

“What’s so wrong is that you’d be fired if Mace found out! Is blowing off steam with her every now and then really worth your job?”

“We’re not just blowing off steam!” Anakin said indignantly. “This isn’t just for sex, it’s not like that. We actually have feelings for each other, we care about each other. Her being the president is the only reason we’re keeping our relationship quiet. Our serious, committed relationship.”

“Why? Presidents are allowed to have relationships,” Obi-Wan challenged. “And as you just said, you’re both single and it’s a relationship, not an affair. Surely no one would mind the president having a boyfriend, so why does it have to be a secret?”

“Well—well, it’s just a little tricky since I’m her bodyguard,” Anakin said, realizing even as he spoke that Obi-Wan was purposely trying to trick him into admitting that their relationship was wrong. “People might think there’s something wrong with that even though there isn’t. And you know the press is watching her like hawks, just waiting for her to do something that could even be remotely considered scandalous so they can swoop in and blow it up into a huge thing and drag her name through the mud. That’s the only reason we haven’t made this into an official relationship where we tell all our friends and family and stuff.”

Obi-Wan looked unconvinced, then said after a moment, “Have you ever considered that she might not see it that way?”

Anakin frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Anakin, she’s the president of the United States. You and I both know you can’t trust politicians, and she’s the most powerful politician in the country.”

“You don’t trust her?” Anakin said, staring at him. “That goes against, like, every single oath we took when we swore our lives to protecting her.”

“She’s an excellent president and I trust her with my country,” Obi-Wan amended. “I just meant maybe you shouldn’t trust her with your heart.”

“So, what, you think she’s just using me?”

“I think you should at least entertain the possibility,” Obi-Wan said, utterly calm in the face of Anakin’s growing anger.

“You—you don’t know anything about her, about us!” Anakin spluttered. “She wants to be with me!”

“She’s the president. She can be with anyone she wants.”

“Meaning there’s no way she’d actually choose me, is that it?”

“Anakin, you must realize how this looks,” Obi-Wan said impatiently. “She’s much more powerful than you, she’s older than you—”

“Only by five years.”

“—and in a sense she’s your boss. From an outsider’s perspective it looks like she’s just sneaking around with you for the thrill of it and she’ll toss you aside once she gets bored with you!”

“That’s a little harsh, Obi-Wan,” murmured Ahsoka, who’d seemed to be trying to stay out of the argument up until that point.

Anakin was too angry to speak for a moment, but at last he said in a shaking voice, “How stupid do you think I am? If that was really what she was doing, you think I wouldn’t have been able to figure it out for myself? I’m thirty-two years old, Obi-Wan, not some naïve little boy—”

“I didn’t say you were stupid or naïve,” Obi-Wan said, holding up his hands in a placating gesture. “I just think there’s a possibility your feelings might be blinding you to the truth of the situation. I’m worried about you, that’s all. You’re my friend and I don’t want you to get your heart broken.”

“Yeah? Some friend you are,” Anakin snapped. “You know what? I don’t care what you think. You can just—just sit up there on your high horse and judge me all you want, I really couldn’t care less. But if you breathe a word about this to anyone and risk bringing Padmé into a public scandal, I’ll kill you myself.”

He finally shoved them both aside, leaving them gaping after him. “Skyguy—”

“Not now, Ahsoka.” And he stomped off down the hall.

As he showered and got ready for bed, Anakin stewed in his anger, muttering to himself that Obi-Wan was an idiot who didn’t know what he was talking about. But after he’d been tossing and turning in bed for an hour, he finally had to acknowledge the thought that had been niggling at the back of his mind ever since their argument.

What if Obi-Wan was right?


There was palpable tension in the air all day following The Incident, as Padmé had come to silently call it. Tension between her and Obi-Wan and Ahsoka and Satine (she could barely stand to look any of them in the eye), tension between Anakin and Obi-Wan and Ahsoka (she was pretty sure Anakin was giving Obi-Wan the cold shoulder and Ahsoka seemed to be caught in the middle), and worst of all, tension between her and Anakin (he was acting distant and only returned her kisses halfheartedly when they were alone together). Padmé didn’t know what to do. Anakin and Obi-Wan had been friends for years, and she hated to think that she might have come between them; she’d thought she’d heard raised voices out in the hall the night before, but by that point she just wanted the day to end so she’d stayed burrowed under the blankets rather than going to investigate.

And the thought that Anakin was angry with her…they’d both been mortified the day before, yes, but other than that everything had seemed fine between them. Padmé had no idea what could’ve caused him to suddenly get all weird around her. Maybe it was just embarrassment. Maybe she was just overthinking it and worrying herself for no reason.

But when a week had passed and Anakin was still acting awkward and tense around her, Padmé decided she needed to put an end to it. “What’s going on with you?” she asked without preamble after he’d finished checking her room that night.

“What do you mean?” He was avoiding her eyes.

“I know the incident last week was…well, humiliating, but that doesn’t explain why you’ve been ignoring me ever since then,” Padmé said.

“I haven’t been ignoring you.”

“You won’t talk to me unless I say something first, you won’t hug or kiss or even touch me unless I initiate it, and you’re not even looking at me right now.”

That made Anakin look up and meet her gaze rather guiltily. Then suddenly he blurted out, “When can we tell people about us?”

Padmé was startled; she hadn’t been expecting that at all. “I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it,” she admitted. “I’m sure the right time will present itself eventually.”

Anakin was silent for a long minute. “You’re ashamed of me,” he said at last.

Padmé stared at him. “What? Why would you think that?”

“You’re afraid to tell people about us because you think I’ll make you look bad.”

“Anakin, that’s not—” Padmé struggled to find the words to explain how wrong he was. “I promise you, that’s not true at all. Yes, I am worried that the press will twist it into a scandal and that my reputation will take a hit, but I’m mostly concerned about you losing your job.”

“So if I said I didn’t care about getting fired, you’d tell everyone?” Anakin said.

“Well, I don’t know if—we’ve gone over all the reasons why we shouldn’t tell anyone countless times,” Padmé said, baffled by his behavior. “You know them just as well as I do. What’s gotten into you?”

He fidgeted for a while, but when it became clear that Padmé wasn’t going to drop the subject, he sighed and said, “It’s just something Obi-Wan said to me that night.”

“What? What did he say?” Silence. “Is that why you’ve been ignoring him, too?” Padmé pressed.

Anakin nodded after a minute. “He did lecture me about us, just like I predicted,” he said. “He said—well, he said a lot of things, but the big thing he said was that he thinks—he thinks you’re just using me.”

“Using you?” Padmé echoed, shocked and offended. “And what did the oh-so-wise Obi-Wan think I was using you for?”

Anakin shrugged and stuffed his hands in his pockets. “For the thrill, he said. You know, a forbidden romance and all that stuff. He thinks you’ll get tired of me soon and just…‘toss me aside’ were his words, I think.”

Padmé stared at him for a moment, speechless, before saying, “I hope you told him nothing could be further from the truth.”

“Yes, of course I did, but ever since he said it, I can’t stop thinking about—I’ve been wondering if—” He broke off, looking distressed, and the truth suddenly dawned on Padmé.

“You think he’s right,” she said, unable to keep a small tremble out of her voice. “You think I’ve been lying to you this whole time about how I feel about you and that I’m actually just using you for the—the thrill, as if I’m a teenager who gets off on sneaking around and keeping secrets. You trust Obi-Wan’s opinion on a situation he doesn’t know anything about more than the words from my own mouth every time I’ve told you I care about you.”

“No, that’s not—I don’t actually believe him, it’s just—” Anakin hunched his shoulders, looking miserable. “It was like he was voicing all my own insecurities that have been bothering me this whole time,” he said quietly. “It’s not you I doubt. It’s myself. You say you have feelings for me and I do believe you, but sometimes this little voice in my head will tell me, ‘You’re not good enough for her. How could someone like her ever care about you?’ And hearing Obi-Wan say all that stuff, I thought…maybe he’s right. I have nothing to offer you, Padmé, other than a potential scandal if the public were to find out about us. You’re the president and I’m—I’m no one. You could do a million times better than me. I’m not good enough for you.”

He was blinking back tears, and Padmé’s heart was breaking. Had these worries truly been plaguing him the entire time they’d been together? “Anakin, that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” she said firmly. “You are good enough. You’re better than good enough. You’re—you’re incredible, you’re wonderful. You’re perfect.” She went over to stand in front of him and gently cupped his face in her hands, wiping a tear away with her thumb. “I mean, you are right to say that objectively, this relationship seems like it has a ton of risk and no reward. For both of us, not just me. You’ve got a lot to lose, too. Even more to lose than I do. But you know what the reward is for me?”

Anakin sniffled. “What?”

“Being with you,” Padmé said softly. “I don’t care how risky it is or how many obstacles there are. Just getting to be with you makes it all more than worth it to me. I’m not using you, Ani, I swear on my life. There is only one reason why I’ve chosen to be with you, and that reason is that I love you.”

Anakin had been gazing dejectedly downwards as she was speaking, but now he lifted his eyes and met hers in surprise, lips parting slightly. “You—you love me?”

“Yes,” Padmé said, heart pounding nervously. “I do. I love you, Anakin.”

He continued to stare at her in amazement for so long that Padmé feared she’d made him angry, but then to her relief, a small, tentative smile grew on his face. “I-I love you too,” he said.

Padmé exhaled softly and smiled back at him, love and elation swirling inside her and making her forget about all the negative emotions she’d been feeling all week. She stood up on her tiptoes and pressed her lips against his, trying to pour all her love into the kiss and take away his insecurities. Anakin kissed her back, and after it was over he wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in her hair. “I love you,” he repeated, as if he was reveling in the feeling of saying the words. “I love you, Padmé.”

“I love you too.” Padmé allowed the contented silence to go on for a long time before she finally said, “I hate that things have been so weird all week. Can we put it behind us and go back to normal?”

“Yes, please. I hate it too,” Anakin said. Then he made a face. “But I’m still mad at Obi-Wan. Or he’s mad at me. I’m not sure who was mad first. But I definitely have more of a reason to be mad than he does, so…”

Padmé laughed. “Get the ball rolling by apologizing to him first,” she suggested. “I’m sure he’ll apologize too.”

“He’s the one who should apologize. He’s way more in the wrong than I am.”

“You sound like a child,” Padmé said, rolling her eyes. “Just say you’re sorry for yelling at him the other day, and then he’ll say he’s sorry for making snap judgments about our relationship and thinking I was a sleazy corrupt politician who seduced you for my own ends. Actually, come to think of it, you’re right, he is way more in the wrong.”

“See,” Anakin said smugly. “But I guess I will go apologize and also make sure he won’t tell anyone. I trust Ahsoka not to say anything, but I’m not sure about him. You know how he is about breaking rules.”

Padmé nodded. “And I trust Satine, so as long as you get Obi-Wan to keep quiet, we should be good.”

He leaned in and gave her a peck on the lips. “Goodnight. I love you.”

“Love you too.”


Obi-Wan and Ahsoka had moved from evening shift to night shift that week, so Anakin waited until they showed up at midnight to replace Luminara and Barriss, and then he announced, “Okay, we need to talk.”

“What about?” Obi-Wan said warily.

“Look, I’m sorry for blowing up at you last week, but…that stuff you were saying really hurt,” Anakin said after a minute. “I know you think me and Padmé’s relationship is a bad idea and I’ll admit I can see why, but I swear to you, we both know what we’re doing and we’re completely sure that we genuinely love each other and want to be together. But I shouldn’t have lost my temper with you, and I’m sorry.”

Obi-Wan mulled that over for a moment. “I’m sorry too,” he said. “I didn’t mean to hurt you, and I regret that I did. I am very concerned about all this, but you’re right, your personal life is none of my business.”

“Aww, look at you guys, working out your problems like mature adults,” Ahsoka said, snickering when they both gave her identical exasperated looks.

“So…we’re all good?” Anakin said hopefully. “I don’t like fighting with you.”

“Neither do I. But…” Obi-Wan hesitated, then sighed. “I don’t know, Anakin, I really do feel obligated to tell Mace about this.”

“What?” Anakin said loudly. “You promised you wouldn’t tell anyone!”

“I know, but by dating the president you are breaking the rules of our job,” Obi-Wan said. “All of us have a duty to keep each other in check and make sure no one’s doing anything they shouldn’t.”

“There’s no rule saying I can’t date her.”

“Yes, because it’s assumed that anyone would know better than to do so.”

Anakin glared at him. “You just said, correctly, that my personal life is none of your business.”

“Well, when the safety and wellbeing of the president come into question, it is my business,” Obi-Wan replied.

“For the last time, me being close with her doesn’t make me less capable of protecting her,” Anakin said, irritated. “On the contrary, I’d be even more vigilant about protecting my girlfriend than a distant political figure I have no real relationship with.”

“He has a point,” Ahsoka chimed in.

“Thank you, Ahsoka. Come on, Obi-Wan, our relationship isn’t hurting anyone, so I don’t see why you’d have any reason to tattle on us and get us both in a shitload of trouble and get me fired and cause Padmé a whole scandal.”

“I don’t want to cause her a scandal any more than you do, all of us are committed to protecting her person and her privacy,” Obi-Wan pointed out. “It’s not like I’d go blabbing to the tabloids, I just don’t feel right keeping this from Mace.”

“Then just pretend you don’t know anything and if he ever finds out I’ll swear you had no idea.” Obi-Wan still looked unconvinced, so Anakin gazed at him seriously and said, “Obi-Wan, please. I’ll get fired if you tell Mace, you know I will. And I need this job. Please don’t tell him. Please. I’m asking as your friend, not your coworker.”

Obi-Wan sighed and was quiet for a while. At last he said, “Fine. I’ll turn a blind eye for now. But if anything happens to make me think that your relationship is jeopardizing the president’s safety or your ability to do your job in any way, I’ll have to tell Mace.”

Anakin breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you so much. I owe you big time.”

“No kidding.” But then his lips twitched as if he was hiding a smile. “Regardless of whether or not I think it’s a good idea…I am glad you’re happy with her.”

Anakin smiled at him. “Thanks. Hey, speaking of, how are things going with Satine?”

Obi-Wan shrugged. “They’re still being idiots,” Ahsoka informed him. “Riyo and I have seriously discussed locking them in a closet and not letting them out until they talk about their feelings.”

Anakin laughed; Ahsoka and Riyo were now officially in a relationship which had been going extremely well for the past couple months, but Obi-Wan and Satine had somehow still not told each other how they felt. “Seriously, just tell her,” Anakin said. “You know she feels the same way about you. What’s the big deal?”

“I’m just so busy all the time with work, not to mention how often we have to leave DC and travel with the president,” Obi-Wan said. “Satine and I would hardly be able to spend any time together. It wouldn’t be fair to her.”

“Trust me, if she cares enough about you—which I’m sure she does—she won’t mind that,” Anakin said wisely. “Plus, she already knows you have to work weird hours, so it’s not like it’ll come as a surprise.”

“Yeah, Riyo and I are in the same situation and she doesn’t mind,” Ahsoka said. “Just go for it, Obi-Wan. You guys have been pining over each other for so long, you deserve to be happy. And it would be a great bonding experience for the three of us if we were all banging politicians.”

Obi-Wan turned bright red and Anakin groaned. “Okay, no, I am not talking about my sex life with you two yet, it’s still way too soon after you walked in on us,” he said.

Ahsoka wrinkled her nose. “Yeah, good call. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get that image out of my head.”

“At least we were still dressed, mostly. Thirty seconds later and you would’ve walked in on something much worse.”

Obi-Wan was shaking his head vigorously. “Can we please change the subject?”

Chapter Text

The next few months passed relatively uneventfully. Padmé’s staff threw a party for her, Bail, and the cabinet in January to celebrate a successful first year in office. In February, she and Anakin exchanged gifts for Valentine’s Day and even managed to have a relaxed, romantic night together since Ahsoka and Obi-Wan were on duty at the time and Anakin and Padmé no longer had to keep up pretenses in front of them.

They and Satine were still the only ones who knew the truth about their relationship. Honestly, it was kind of a relief that three people knew now. There was the increased time Anakin and Padmé could spend together without alerting suspicion when Obi-Wan and Ahsoka were on duty, of course, and once everyone’s embarrassment about The Incident died down, Padmé could confide in Satine about her love life the way she’d always wished she could. Not that she didn’t love talking to Anakin, but it was nice to have someone outside the relationship that she could talk to about it as well.

How are you feeling? Padmé texted Anakin one evening in March on her way to bed. He’d been suddenly stricken with what he suspected to be food poisoning a few hours before, leaving her security short-staffed with only Luminara and Barriss. Not that it really mattered; she’d always felt having three agents follow her around during day-to-day life was overkill, but she’d long since given up trying to argue the point with Mace.

Anakin replied with a green-faced sick emoji. Oh no :( Padmé typed back. You still think it’s food poisoning?

yeah. i DID think that fish i had last night was a little……fishy

Only you would still be able to whip out a pun while deathly ill

thats why u love me :)

True. Heart emoji heart emoji. I hope you feel better soon. I’m headed to bed now but let me know if you need anything. She added several kissy face emojis on the end for emphasis.

thanks but i think the only thing i can do is wait it out. goodnight love you Heart emoji heart emoji. see u tomorrow hopefully

Hopefully! Goodnight Kissy face kissy face.

Padmé pocketed her phone and headed into her bedroom, Barriss following her to do the nightly check since Anakin wasn’t there. Anakin was still sick the next day, but the day after that he was back. “I’m never eating fish again,” he moaned, and Padmé had to suppress a laugh. She felt bad that he’d been so sick, but at the same time, sick Anakin was hilariously melodramatic.

“I’m just glad you’re back,” she said, forcing herself not to lean in and kiss him seeing as Aayla and Plo were standing right there.

Anakin smiled at her. “Thank you, ma’am. I’m glad to be back.”

Anakin’s food poisoning was the only major incident for the next several weeks. And then, in the beginning of April, everything changed.

Padmé was sitting at her desk replying to some emails when Sabé poked her head into the room. “Senator Clovis is here to see you, ma’am.”

Padmé bit back a groan. Clovis? What the hell did he want? They’d interacted only minimally since the fiasco at the party last year, and she’d been hoping it would stay that way. “Send him in,” she said reluctantly.

Clovis was walking in and shutting the door behind him a moment later, and Padmé plastered on a smile. “What can I do for you?” she said. “If this is about the new budget proposal—”

“No, it’s not about that. I’m actually here because I have something I thought you might like to see,” Clovis said, and there was a glint in his eye that Padmé didn’t like at all.

“Oh?”

He approached her desk and held his phone in front of her face. Padmé studied the screen and her eyes widened. “Is that—is that my bedroom?”

And then he pressed play.

Two figures came into the frame, and Padmé’s heart dropped into her stomach as she realized it was herself and Anakin. Anakin drew her in for a passionate kiss, and they started pulling off each other’s clothes and moving towards the bed and climbing onto it and then Anakin was burying his head between her thighs and she was writhing on the bed and moaning his name—

“I think you get the picture,” Clovis said, pausing the video and looking very smug indeed.

Padmé snapped out of her shock and horror long enough to lunge for the phone, but he pulled it out of her reach. “Give me that,” she said shakily.

“I’d rather not. It wouldn’t do you much good anyway, I have other copies saved elsewhere.”

Bile was rising in Padmé’s throat, and she sat back down in her chair with a thump, suddenly too dizzy to stand. How the fuck had Clovis gotten a sex tape of her and Anakin, from only a few days ago judging by her outfit in the video? He must’ve hidden a camera in her room somehow, but how? How would he have gotten in without anyone seeing? The thought of Clovis watching her and Anakin have sex without them knowing…Padmé had to fight down another strong wave of nausea.

“You—you monster,” she said, her voice trembling. “You had no right to film that, and I swear to God, when my security team finds out you bugged my private rooms—”

“Ah, but they won’t find out, because if anyone tries to prosecute me for this, I’ll know you told someone about it and I’m afraid I’ll then have to email this video to all the tabloids,” Clovis replied, smirking.

Padmé took several deep, steadying breaths. That video could not get out. It would ruin her and Anakin’s lives. Anakin would be fired and would spend the rest of his life being recognized everywhere he went as the guy in the sex tape with President Amidala, and Padmé would be disgraced, publicly humiliated, and maybe even impeached if the people reacted especially badly. She was sure Clovis, at least, would try to twist it into an impeachable offense, and he’d certainly get support in the Senate from Palpatine, Dooku, and the rest of their crowd.

“What do you want from me?” she hissed, because surely Clovis had to have some ulterior motive in all this, surely he was trying to blackmail her into doing some political maneuver that would be to his advantage.

“I want you to end things with him,” he said simply.

Padmé stared at him. “Excuse me?”

“Your boyfriend. Skywalker,” Clovis said, a distasteful expression on his face. “You’re going to end things with him or else I’ll release this video.”

She was speechless for several moments. “You have no authority over me, you don’t get to dictate what I do in my personal life!”

“Actually, I do,” he said, holding the phone up for emphasis. Then he pulled something out of his pocket. “How about I make things a little easier for you? I’ll bug your office right now, and you’ll call Skywalker in here once I leave and break up with him. I’ll be watching the whole time, so if you try to find some way to let him know what’s really going on, I’ll know. If you break or remove the bug before I say you can, I’ll know.”

“You can’t bug the Oval Office!”

“It’ll only be for a few minutes,” Clovis replied, completely unfazed. “Once you finish talking to Skywalker, I’ll call you and give you permission to destroy the bug. If you decide to put things off and have any top-secret conversations in this room before breaking up with him, well, that’s not my fault.”

Padmé felt like she was watching the scene from somewhere else outside her own body. There was no way this was really happening. It couldn’t be. Just when she needed her brain to work quickly and try to find a way out of this, it was moving impossibly sluggishly. She couldn’t break up with Anakin. But if Clovis didn’t witness her do it, he’d release the tape. Maybe she could tell Anakin the truth later after the bug in her office was destroyed? What if he didn’t believe her? He’d be extremely upset after she broke up with him, what was she supposed to do, say “sorry, just kidding”? And even if Anakin did believe her and they continued their relationship as normal, what if Clovis found out? He had her rooms bugged too, and that was the one place she could count on having a private conversation with Anakin. Clovis would overhear her trying to explain the situation to him. And if she had her security search for the bugs and destroy them, or if she tried to move into some different rooms in the White House, Clovis would know. He’d already threatened to release the tape if she tried to have him prosecuted.

Padmé squeezed her eyes shut as the truth finally hit her. She would have to break up with Anakin without him knowing why. She’d have to tell him she didn’t love him anymore and didn’t want to be with him. She’d have to break his heart. Because any other option was too risky. Clovis could ruin them both with the press of a button if he had even the smallest reason to believe Padmé hadn’t done exactly as he asked.

She opened her eyes again, furiously blinking back tears. She wouldn’t cry in front of him. She refused to give him that satisfaction. “You’re despicable,” she spat.

Clovis just smiled. “So you’ll do it, then?”

Padmé couldn’t make herself reply for several long moments. “Yes,” she said through clenched teeth.

“Excellent. I knew you’d pick the smart option.” He went about planting the bug in the vase of flowers on her desk, and then he straightened up and smiled at her again. “You’ll thank me one day. You and I both know you could do so much better than him.”

No, I couldn’t, Padmé wanted to scream. Instead she only said, “Why are you doing this? How does this possibly benefit you? Are you actually deluded enough to think that I’ll want to get back together with you after all this?”

“I’m always optimistic,” Clovis said pleasantly. “But really, I’m only doing this because I can’t stand the thought of you with him.”

“Oh, so if you can’t have me, no one can?”

“Exactly. Have a nice day, Madam President. It’s been wonderful working with you.”

And with that, Clovis sauntered out of the room, leaving Padmé alone. She let out a small sob before remembering that Clovis was still watching through the bug, and she quickly stifled it. She was terrified, and she hated that she was terrified because it meant Clovis had power over her. Just as he’d wanted. Padmé had never felt so powerless or violated in all her life. And on top of that, she was now going to have to think of something to say to Anakin that would satisfy Clovis while hopefully not hurting Anakin any more than necessary.

She sat at her desk with her head in her hands for a long, long time before finally standing up, crossing the room, and opening the door. “Sabé, could you send Anakin in, please? I’d like to speak to him for a minute.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Padmé stared at the floor as Anakin entered, and when he shut the door behind him and tried to pull her in for a kiss, she shook him off and took a step back. “Padmé? Everything okay?” he said, sounding confused.

She took a deep breath. She could do this. She had to do this. “Ani, I…” Padmé swallowed and forced herself to look up and meet his eyes. “I don’t think we should do this anymore.”

Anakin stared blankly at her. “What? What do you mean?”

“Our relationship. I think we should end it,” she said, amazed that she was managing to make her voice come out steady. “It’s just too risky.”

Anakin still looked mostly baffled, but there was a bit of hurt starting to mix in his expression as well. “You—you don’t mean that,” he said, a note of uncertainty creeping into his voice. “We’ve known right from the start how risky it was and it never bothered us before.”

“I know, but…I’ve changed my mind. I don’t think it’s worth it anymore.”

“You don’t think it’s worth it?” Anakin repeated, and now he’d fully moved from confusion to hurt. “You don’t think I’m worth it?”

“Anakin, please, don’t—I’m not trying to hurt you,” Padmé said desperately. “That’s the last thing I want to do. I just don’t think our relationship is a good idea, the stakes are too high.”

“Before, you told me that you didn’t mind the high stakes because you loved me,” Anakin said, starting to raise his voice. “You said anything was worth being with me. Is that not the case anymore? Do you not love me anymore?”

Padmé’s heart was breaking. “I didn’t say that.”

“Then why are you doing this?” he demanded. “Look, I-I’ll quit my job if you want me to, and that way we can be together openly—”

“No, I would never ask you to do that,” Padmé said firmly.

“But what if I wanted to? Padmé, I would rather lose this job than lose you. If that’s what it’ll take—”

“That’s not what this is about.”

“Then what is it about?” Anakin half-shouted.

“I just—I—I don’t want to be with you anymore,” Padmé said, hardly able to get the words out past the lump in her throat.

Anakin looked as if she had punched him in the stomach. He took several shaky breaths, and she saw that he was blinking back tears. Padmé had never despised herself more. “You don’t want to be with me,” he said slowly.

“No,” she whispered.

“Fine,” Anakin said at last. “I’m sorry for wasting the past ten months of your life, then.”

“Ani, please—”

“Obi-Wan was right. You were just using me,” he shot back. “He told me you’d get sick of me and toss me aside, and I told him he didn’t know you like I did, didn’t know us. I told him you loved me. Because I thought you did.”

“Anakin, I—”

“Did this whole thing just mean nothing to you?” Anakin said, his tone angry but with underlying pain, too. “You just wanted to get laid and I was the convenient idiot who happened to be in the right place at the right time? You never actually cared about me at all beyond whether or not I was good at fucking you?”

“Don’t twist my words,” Padmé said sharply. “I didn’t say any of those things.”

He snorted. “Right, twisting words is your job, isn’t it, Madam President?”

Now Padmé was the one who felt like she’d been punched. “You should go,” she said quietly.

Anakin glared at her. “Yes, I should.” And he turned on his heel and marched back out the door, slamming it after him.

Padmé slowly walked back over to her desk and sat down, numb. A few minutes later, her cell phone rang and she answered it, cursing herself for not changing her number after breaking up with Clovis. “Hello?”

“Nicely done,” Clovis said. “You can destroy the bug now.”

“Delete the video. Every copy.”

“Why would I do that?”

“I did what you wanted,” Padmé said heatedly. “Now delete it.”

“No, I think I’ll keep it around. Who knows when I might need you to do something else for me?”

He hung up.

Padmé stared at her phone for a second before hurling it across the room. Then she yanked the bug out of the flower vase, went to grab a heavy book from the bookshelf, and smashed the bug into smithereens. She swept the remnants into the trash can, flopped back into her desk chair, put her head in her hands, and wept.

Chapter Text

The next two weeks were excruciating. Padmé still had to see Anakin every single day, but now he wouldn’t say a word to her beyond the bare minimum. Obi-Wan and Ahsoka became distant too; Anakin had probably told them what happened and now they blamed her for breaking his heart. As they should, she thought bitterly. No matter how much Anakin hated her, no matter how much Obi-Wan or Ahsoka hated her, Padmé could guarantee it still wasn’t as much as she hated herself.

Or as much as she hated Clovis; she alternated between blaming herself and blaming him. And between misery and rage. The worst part was, he was still holding the tape over her head, so Padmé was forced to be perfectly kind and polite every time they saw each other rather than punching him square in the face the way she wanted to. Not to mention that she was living in a constant state of fear as to what he’d try to blackmail her into doing next. It felt like breaking up with Anakin was the worst thing he could make her do, but objectively Padmé knew he could do much, much worse, could try to use all the power she wielded for his own nefarious purposes.

So many times the truth about Clovis and the blackmailing was right on the tip of her tongue when Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka—the three agents she trusted most—were around, but every time the words died in Padmé’s throat as she thought of what Clovis would do if the FBI showed up at his door, as she pictured the video of her and Anakin having sex splashed all over the internet for all the world to see. The thought of such a private, intimate moment between the two of them becoming a spectacle to entertain millions of strangers was sickening; it was bad enough that Clovis had watched it.

And Padmé would lose all her credibility with the American people if a sex tape of her and a White House employee was made public. As a female politician she’d had to work twice as hard to gain the respect so easily afforded to her male colleagues and competitors, had had to bend over backwards to convince people that she was just as serious, intelligent, and responsible as Palpatine and the other men who’d run against her for president. There were those who already complained about such trivial things as her wardrobe being too expensive (never mind the fact that these same people would decry her for disrespecting the office of president if she didn’t dress to the nines everywhere she went). What would they do with a sex tape? It wasn’t about losing her job; after her panic of the moment Padmé had soon realized that impeachment would be highly unlikely, seeing as she hadn’t actually done anything wrong. It was about losing her dignity, losing the respect of the people she served. How could America function properly if its leader was a laughingstock and a national embarrassment?

So Padmé always kept her mouth shut, attempting to console herself with the fact that by breaking up with Anakin she’d been protecting him too, not just herself; that tape would ruin his life just as much as it would ruin hers. Besides, would he or Obi-Wan or Ahsoka even believe her if she told them the truth? They were all upset with her, they’d probably think she was just making it up to get back on their good side. Or if they did believe her, what then? She doubted Obi-Wan or Ahsoka would be able to put a stop to Clovis without him realizing they were onto him and leaking the tape, and as for Anakin…Padmé shuddered as she remembered the rage on his face when he’d punched Clovis at that party just for being rude to her. If he knew Clovis had used a sex tape of them to blackmail Padmé into breaking up with him, God knew what Anakin would do to him. It would surely only make things far worse than they already were.

This would have to come to an end, and soon. Padmé would have to find a way to destroy every copy of the tape before Clovis had the chance to leak it. But she just didn’t know how, and she was afraid to tell anyone about it and ask for help because Clovis would find out, somehow, that she’d blabbed. The only other option, of course, was letting him leak the tape so he wouldn’t have power over her anymore, but Padmé just couldn’t bring herself to go that route, at least not yet. Maybe if it went on for long enough without her being able to figure out a solution, or if he tried to make her do something that would hurt the country rather than just herself and Anakin, she would throw caution to the winds and let him leak it. She only hoped Anakin would be able to forgive her once she could explain everything to him. Padmé didn’t expect him to want to get back together with her after all of this, but as long as he didn’t hate her anymore, she would be happy. Or so she told herself.

Padmé was dwelling on all this as she sat in the car on the way to the Capitol building for some meetings. She was sitting between Anakin and Sabé with a few other agents in the backseat and the rest of her team in other cars, and she was doing her utmost to listen to Sabé’s rundown of the afternoon’s schedule because the alternative was focusing on how stiffly Anakin was sitting and how careful he was being about not letting his leg brush against hers.

Padmé stifled a sigh, as miserably tense and uncomfortable now as she had been every other time she’d been near Anakin throughout the past two weeks. She hadn’t yet dared to look directly at him, but she knew that even if she did he would stare stubbornly straight ahead and refuse to acknowledge her. She shifted in her seat and turned her head even further towards Sabé, hoping they were almost there.

At last, at last they arrived, and Padmé watched Anakin get out of the car with no small amount of relief. There was a crowd gathered around the blocked-off perimeter, and they started cheering when Padmé herself stepped outside. She took a moment to smile and wave at them, as she always did whenever she was out in public; she didn’t want to appear aloof and unapproachable.

And then she heard something clattering on the pavement nearby, and she turned to look. It was a small metal object with a blinking red light. Padmé’s heart stopped.

Then everything started happening so fast. Someone was grabbing her arm and Anakin’s voice was yelling, “Padmé, run!” Padmé started sprinting towards the Capitol building, towards safety, Anakin still behind her and practically shoving her forward to make her run faster.

And then he pushed her so hard that she fell down onto the pavement, and she instinctively pulled her arms into her chest so she wouldn’t break her wrists on the impact. A warm, solid weight was crashing on top of her a second later, and a second after that there was a deafening boom.

When Padmé’s ears stopped ringing from the explosion, she could hear screams all around her and sirens in the distance. She smelled smoke and tasted blood on her lip, and she struggled to push whatever was on top of her off but it wouldn’t budge. She lifted her head to try and see what was going on but her vision was obstructed by many pairs of feet.

“Ma’am! Madam President!”

Someone was holding their hand out to her, and Padmé took it and allowed the person to yank her out from where she’d been trapped; a second later she saw it was Obi-Wan, with the rest of her team standing behind him. “We need to get you to safety, now!” he yelled over all the chaos, and he started tugging her away.

But then Padmé remembered. “Anakin,” she said, scanning the crowd to look for him, but he was nowhere to be found. “Anakin, where’s Anakin?” She twisted around to look behind her, and her knees almost gave out when she realized what had happened.

The thing that had been lying on top of her was Anakin. He must have pushed her down on purpose just before the bomb went off and then thrown himself on top of her to try and protect her from the blast. And now—and now he was lying on the ground, pale and unconscious. His right arm was trapped underneath a huge chunk of metal, and Padmé was pretty sure she could see blood on the pavement next to him.

“Anakin!” she screamed, struggling to break free from Obi-Wan’s grasp. She had to get to him, she had to make sure he was alive, she had to bring him with them and out of danger. “Anakin, Anakin—”

“Ma’am, you need to get out of here!” Obi-Wan shouted, pulling her in the opposite direction.

“No, I can’t leave him! Obi-Wan, please, please—”

“Anakin would want you to leave him and get to safety! Our job is to protect you no matter the personal cost!”

How could he say that, how could he be so cold when his best friend was lying bloody and unconscious ten feet away? But the combined strength of multiple agents won out, and Padmé found herself being dragged away from Anakin and towards the Capitol, crying and fighting against them all the way.

They arrived safely inside, and Padmé didn’t pay any attention to where they were taking her but she ended up in a room she didn’t recognize. It was sparsely furnished and the door was made out of thick, heavy metal; it must have been some sort of safe room designed for protection of important personnel during emergencies.

The door slammed shut behind them and Padmé was immediately swarmed by agents and first aid kits. “I’m not hurt, I don’t need this, Anakin’s the one who needs help,” she insisted over and over again, but they ignored her and continued their examinations until they were satisfied that she was indeed uninjured aside from numerous cuts and bruises.

“Still, there might be some internal damage,” Aayla was saying. “We need to get her to the hospital as soon as it’s safe.”

“I don’t need the hospital, Anakin needs the hospital!”

“Ambulances were already starting to arrive on the scene when we left, ma’am,” Obi-Wan said soothingly. “Anakin will be taken care of.”

“How could you just leave him there?” Padmé whispered. “He’s your friend.”

Obi-Wan looked away, miserable. “I had no choice. Your safety is top priority, ma’am. We all swore an oath to sacrifice ourselves and each other for you if need be.”

Padmé looked up and finally registered the fear and pain on every agent’s face, and she suddenly realized, hating herself for being so self-absorbed, that she wasn’t the only one in the room who cared about Anakin. They’d had to leave him behind because of her. The bomb had only been thrown because of her, because someone was trying to kill her. Who knows how many innocent bystanders had been hurt or killed, all because of her?

Padmé’s chest tightened so much that she couldn’t breathe. She took short, gasping breaths, and her head was spinning and her hands were shaking and her heart was racing and she felt like she was going to throw up. All those people, all her fault all her fault all her fault all her fault—

“Breathe,” someone was saying next to her; Padmé focused on their face and saw it was Ahsoka. “Just breathe, ma’am, it’s all right. It’s over now. You’re safe. You’re safe.”

Her body was racked with dry sobs, her panic only increasing the harder she tried to calm herself down. “It’s—it’s my fault—my fault—”

“It’s not your fault, ma’am,” Ahsoka said, gentle but firm. “The only one to blame is the bastard who threw the bomb. Not you. You didn’t make this happen.”

Ahsoka sat with her talking soothingly until Padmé could finally breathe again. She didn’t know how long it had lasted; it felt like hours but was probably only a few minutes. Padmé took several deep, steadying breaths, and then she burst into tears. She felt a pair of arms wrap around her, probably Ahsoka, but she didn’t know or care. She just leaned into whoever it was and cried and cried and cried until she didn’t have any tears left.

Then she heard Obi-Wan saying into his mic, “Tell her Ahsoka’s just fine.” Pause. “Well…I suppose that couldn’t hurt.”

He cautiously opened the door, and a second later Riyo was dashing into the room; she must have already been inside the Capitol building for Padmé’s meetings with Congress when it went on lockdown. “Ahsoka?” she demanded, looking frightened.

“Here,” Ahsoka said, but Riyo had already spotted her and was making a beeline for her and throwing herself into her arms.

“You’re okay?” Riyo asked, tears on her cheeks as she scanned Ahsoka’s face for sign of injury.

Ahsoka nodded and gave her a tired smile. “I’m fine,” she said. “I’m fine, I promise you.”

Riyo started to cry and buried her face in the crook of Ahsoka’s neck, and Ahsoka hugged her tighter and planted little kisses on the top of her head, murmuring words of reassurance over and over again. Padmé was momentarily warmed by the sight, but then a wave of misery and terror washed over her once more as she remembered that her own partner could be dead at that very moment for all she knew.

The next few hours were a blur. Padmé had lost her phone in the chaos, but she borrowed Obi-Wan’s so she could call her frantic family and let them know she was all right. She wasn’t allowed to leave the safe room yet, but she got repeated information updates from her security team, who were communicating with other agents outside the building. The city was on lockdown. The authorities were examining traffic camera footage to look for the bomber. They identified the bomber as a woman named Zam Wesell. They identified one of the bodies at the site of the explosion as Zam Wesell. The city lockdown was lifted. Someone wanted me dead so badly that they sacrificed their own life to try and kill me. Four people had been killed, including Zam Wesell. I killed four people. Two dozen more were in the hospital, some in critical condition. She still hadn’t heard anything about Anakin.

“I’m his emergency contact since he doesn’t have any family out here,” Obi-Wan told her. “The hospital will call me as soon as they have news.”

Zam Wesell’s family and friends and coworkers were all being taken in for questioning. The FBI was trying to figure out if she’d acted alone or if there were others with her. Maybe someone will try to kill me tomorrow too. Maybe I’ll kill four more people tomorrow.

It was evening by the time Obi-Wan’s phone rang. Padmé immediately went on high alert. “Hello?” he said. “Yes, that’s me. Yes. Is he all right?” Pause. “I see.” Very long pause. “I see. Thank you for calling.”

“Was that the hospital? What did they say?” Padmé demanded as soon as he’d hung up.

“Anakin’s alive,” Obi-Wan said, and a sigh of relief went around the room.

But then Padmé realized he’d said “alive” rather than “all right,” and fear seized her heart once more. “But?” she pressed.

Obi-Wan closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them again. “He’s alive, but—but his right arm was crushed under part of a car. Mangled beyond repair, according to the doctors, and all the blood he was losing was only making everything worse, so—so they decided his best chance of survival was amputation.”

Padmé felt like she was listening from the end of a long tunnel. “Amputation?” she echoed.

“Yes. His arm was amputated just below the elbow,” Obi-Wan said quietly. “The procedure was a success and he’s in stable condition now. They expect him to make a full recovery.”

“A full recovery except that he doesn’t have half of his arm anymore,” Padmé said in a trembling voice.

Obi-Wan nodded, his expression grim. “Yes.”

Padmé exhaled softly, struggling to wrap her brain around the information. Anakin was alive and he was going to be okay. That was all that mattered. That was all that mattered. But he’d have to live the rest of his life without his right arm. What was he supposed to do? His right hand was the one he wrote with, the one he did everything with. Would they even let him continue being a field agent if he only had one arm? What if they fired him? What if his life was ruined?

And it was Padmé’s fault.

She’d thought she was out of tears, but she started to cry again.


Anakin awoke to blinding lights and a dull ache throughout his entire body. He blinked several times to clear his vision and then, bafflingly, his mother’s face swam into view. “Mom?” he croaked.

“Oh, Ani, you’re awake!” Shmi started peppering his face with kisses, and Anakin still had no idea what was going on.

“What are you doing here?” he asked. “Why aren’t you in Arizona?”

“I rushed to the airport and got a last-minute plane ticket as soon as I heard on the news what happened,” she said gravely. “I had to fly in to Baltimore and drive the rest of the way because the DC airports weren’t letting any flights in or out, but they’d lifted the city lockdown by the time I got here. That was when the hospital finally called me to say you were here.”

“Hospital,” Anakin repeated. “I’m in the hospital?” As he spoke, he finally started observing his surroundings and realized that they did indeed seem hospital-ish.

“Yes. An ambulance took you here after the explosion,” Shmi said, speaking slowly as if she thought his comprehension skills were impaired.

Explosion…bomb…Padmé. “Where’s Padmé?” he said urgently. “Is she safe? Is she all right?” His heart pounded as he struggled to remember, but he couldn’t, he couldn’t, the bomb going off was the last thing he could remember before waking up in the hospital.

“Padmé? You mean President Amidala?” Shmi said, looking confused. “Yes, she’s perfectly fine, I heard it on the news.”

Anakin breathed a sigh of relief and reached up to scratch his left shoulder. And then he froze.

His arm was…gone? Well, not entirely, it was normal down to his elbow, which was wrapped in bandages, and then it just…stopped. There was nothing there. Blank space. Anakin stared uncomprehendingly at it for several long moments. He tried to move his right hand but nothing happened because his right hand was gone. He reached out with his left hand and waved it around in the space where the rest of his other arm should’ve been, as if trying to make sure it was really gone and not just invisible or something.

“What?” he said dazedly. “I-I don’t understand.”

He looked over at Shmi, desperate for an explanation, and saw that tears were welling up in her eyes. “Your lower arm was crushed in the explosion, and it was causing you so much pain and making you lose a lot of blood, so they amputated it,” she said. “But—but the good news is the procedure saved your life and you’ll make a full recovery.”

Anakin looked back down at his arm, trying to make sense of it but he just couldn’t. “No,” he said, voice shaking. “No, no, no, this can’t—this isn’t happening, I—I’m dreaming or something—”

“I’m so sorry, Ani,” Shmi said softly.

She reached out and gently laid her hand on his shoulder, and that was when Anakin finally broke down. He collapsed against her and started sobbing harder than he could ever remember doing in his life. Shmi wrapped her arms around him and rocked him back and forth, murmuring words of comfort, just like she’d always done when he’d been woken by nightmares as a child. But this time it wasn’t a nightmare he could wake up from. He cried until his throat was raw and Shmi’s shirt was soaked with tears, and then he buried his face in her shoulder and took quick shuddering breaths, continuing to sniffle all the while.

“What the hell am I supposed to do?” he whispered at last.

“Well, the doctor said in a few months they’ll be able to fit you with a prosthesis once the swelling’s gone down,” Shmi said, giving him an encouraging smile. “You’ll be able to get a lot of mobility back that way.”

A lot. But not all. Get it back, because he’d lost it. “I wish I’d just died,” Anakin said miserably.

“Don’t you dare say that, Anakin,” Shmi said, so sharply that he jumped a little. “Several people did die in the explosion, and I have spent every second of the past couple hours being so thankful that you weren’t one of them. And before I knew that you were alive, I spent every second of those hours praying to every higher power I could think of that you would be all right. And you are all right, or at least you will be. I can’t even begin to imagine how you must be feeling right now and you have every right to grieve and be upset, but don’t for a second forget how lucky you are to be alive.”

Anakin sniffled again. “I’m sorry.”

Shmi sighed and pressed a tender kiss to the top of his head. “I just don’t want you to ever think your life isn’t worth living, no matter what hardships you go through. This is one of the hardest you’ll ever face, but you’ll make it through because you’re so strong, Ani. I love you so much.”

Anakin leaned into the embrace once more. “I love you too,” he said. But Shmi’s words did nothing to ease the raw ache in his heart.

Chapter Text

It was night by the time Padmé was at last permitted to leave the Capitol building, and her team escorted her straight to the hospital. “I need to see Anakin,” she said as soon as they arrived.

“First the doctors need to examine you and make sure you’re really all right,” Obi-Wan said.

“For the last time, I’m fine, come on—”

“Ma’am, please just sit through the exam and I promise you, we’ll go straight to Anakin as soon as it’s over,” Obi-Wan said in a tone that brooked no argument.

Padmé sighed. “Fine.”

She waited impatiently as the doctor examined her, but finally she was confirmed to be uninjured and in good health. “I know you must be very busy, ma’am, but I insist you get as much rest as you can for the next few weeks,” the doctor said rather sternly. “Yes, you’re physically unharmed, but you’ve been through an ordeal, and you need time to recover emotionally as well.”

Padmé nodded distractedly, knowing that her getting a lot of rest was about as likely as pigs flying, then said, “Can you tell me where Anakin Skywalker’s room is? He’s one of my security agents and he was injured in the explosion. I’m really worried about him and would like to see him, if that’s all right.”

The doctor’s face softened. “I’m not sure where he is, but I’ll go send someone to take you there.” She left, and a few minutes later a nurse appeared at the door and beckoned Padmé to follow her. Flanked by her entire security team (Padmé had tried to make all but a few of them go home and get some rest but they’d refused), Padmé followed the nurse down a few hallways, impatience mounting with every step. Finally they arrived, and she burst into the room before the nurse even had time to open the door for her.

There were two people there: Anakin, sitting in the hospital bed, and an older woman in the chair beside him, her brown hair streaked with gray. They both looked up in surprise as the door opened. Anakin’s eyes looked red and puffy from crying, and the woman paled when she saw Padmé.

“M-Madam President,” she stammered, quickly getting to her feet. “I didn’t expect—it’s an honor to meet you, ma’am.”

“Please, don’t get up on my account,” Padmé said quickly. “It’s nice to meet you, too, Ms….?”

“Skywalker,” the woman supplied. “I’m Anakin’s mother.”

Oh, of course; now that she knew who she was, Padmé did recognize Shmi Skywalker from the pictures Anakin had shown her. But that thought and all other thoughts were driven from her mind as her eyes fell upon Anakin’s right arm. The site of amputation was wrapped in bandages, and the empty space below where the rest of his arm should have been made Padmé feel sick.

She managed to tear her gaze away from Anakin’s arm and up to his face. It was covered in cuts and bruises, and Padmé shuddered to think what the rest of his body looked like under the hospital gown if the injuries to his face were anything to go by. “Padmé,” Anakin breathed, staring wide-eyed at her.

“Anakin,” Padmé said, and then she was flying across the room and throwing her arms around him.

“Ow,” he said.

“Sorry, sorry,” she said, hastily letting go again as she realized how much pain he must be in.

But Anakin didn’t seem to mind. He reached out with his remaining hand and placed it on her cheek, and Padmé melted into the touch. “You’re really all right?” he said. “You’re not hurt at all?”

“I’m completely fine, just a teeny bit banged up from falling,” Padmé said, giving him a watery smile. “Thanks to you. Anakin, you—you saved my life. Thank you. I’ll never be able to thank you enough.”

“Just doing my job,” Anakin said in a would-be casual tone, though the look on his face, the poignant mixture of relief and love—that was telling a different story.

Padmé felt tears welling up in her eyes and spilling over onto her cheeks. “I-I’m so sorry,” she said, voice shaking. “I’m so sorry, Ani, this is—I did this to you. This is all my fault.”

“It’s not your fault,” Anakin said softly. “And…I’d do it again. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I’d gladly die for you, Padmé, not just because it’s my job, but because I—because I love you.”

And then, finally, Padmé really did start to cry. “I love you too, Ani,” she sobbed. “I love you.” Vaguely, she heard gasps and murmurs from the room’s other occupants, but Anakin had almost died and Padmé would be damned if she cared at all what anyone else in the room was thinking in that moment.

Anakin started tugging her closer, so she obligingly embraced him again, though more carefully this time. “I’m so glad you’re okay,” she said, voice muffled in his shoulder. “If—if you’d—if I’d lost you, I don’t know what I would’ve—” She couldn’t finish the sentence, but she didn’t need to; Anakin squeezed her tighter, and Padmé was overcome with a fresh wave of tears at how wonderfully familiar it felt to be held by him again, even if there was only one arm encircling her now instead of two.

“Me neither,” he said, also sounding choked up. “Thank God you’re all right.”

Padmé leaned in until her lips were brushing against his, and Anakin eagerly kissed her back, his lips dry and cracked and a bit bloody but so perfect. She kept one hand on his cheek and moved the other to tangle in his hair, utterly lost in the moment—

Until a voice that was unmistakably Mace Windu’s barked, “What is going on in here?”

Padmé jerked backwards and turned to look, belatedly remembering that there were, in fact, other people in the room. Ahsoka was grinning, Obi-Wan appeared to be suppressing a smile of his own, the other agents were wide-eyed, poor Shmi looked absolutely dumbfounded—and Mace, who was standing in the doorway after having apparently just arrived, was staring at them with a combination of shock and disapproval. It was by far the most emotion Padmé had ever seen on the stoic man’s face.

“Agent Windu. Hello,” she said awkwardly, feeling a flush creep into her cheeks. “I, um, I thought you were still at the White House.”

“I came to check on you and Skywalker, ma’am,” Mace said. “Though I would’ve knocked first if I’d known I’d be interrupting something.”

Padmé’s flush deepened; she glanced sideways at Anakin and saw that he was also the color of a tomato. “Yes, well, I was just, um, very relieved to see Anakin awake and doing well.”

“I can see that, ma’am,” Mace said dryly, and Padmé was pretty sure she heard someone (probably Ahsoka) snicker quietly. “You’re doing well yourself?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“Glad to hear it,” Mace replied. “And if you’d be so kind, I’d like a word with Skywalker in private.”

Padmé looked back at Anakin, whose embarrassment was now replaced with nervousness, but she reluctantly agreed and headed out the door with all the others.

A few moments after the door had shut, a timid voice said, “Ex-excuse me? Madam President?”

Padmé turned and saw that it was Shmi who had spoken; she looked bewildered and faintly terrified, and Padmé winced internally. This wasn’t exactly the first impression she would’ve liked to have made on Anakin’s mother. “Ms. Skywalker, I’d like to apologize for what happened in there,” she said as diplomatically as she could manage. “I don’t—um, I don’t quite know how to say this, but…”

She paused, then decided she and Anakin had nothing to lose since a dozen people had just seen them kissing and plunged onwards. “Anakin and I have been in a relationship for the better part of ten months,” Padmé said without further ado, and Shmi’s eyes got even wider, if that was possible. “We kept it a secret because…well, I’m sure you can understand why a relationship between us might be frowned upon. But it was wrong for us to keep it from our own families, and I am so, so sorry that we never told you.”

Shmi looked like her brain was working overtime to make sense of that confession, but after several minutes she said, “Actually, now that you say it…I have always gotten the impression that Anakin had feelings for you, ma’am. It’s the way he looks when he talks about you, you should see his face.” She smiled slightly. “I even teased him about it every so often, and of course he’d deny it, but he’d get so annoyed and embarrassed, which was proof enough that I was right. I just…I never would have imagined you’d return his feelings, ma’am.”

“I do,” Padmé said with a small smile of her own. “Anakin is an amazing person, and I love him. I really, really do.” Then she remembered the bad state their relationship (or lack thereof) had been in before the bombing, and her smile turned into a frown. “Although…I’m not sure if he’ll still want to be with me.”

Shmi gave her a puzzled look. “What do you mean, ma’am?”

“Well…” Padmé hesitated, then decided that Shmi probably deserved a more detailed explanation of how exactly her son had come to be in a relationship with the president of the United States, so she took a deep breath and began to tell her everything.


Anakin thought it was pretty safe to say that he had never felt so many strong emotions all at once. There was a blanket of numb shock over everything but underneath it…suffocating grief over the loss of his arm, relief that Padmé was all right, exhilaration that she did love him after all, confusion as to why she’d broken up with him in the first place, uncertainty about where their relationship currently stood, and now, as he was left alone in his hospital room with his boss who had just caught him kissing the one person he wasn’t supposed to kiss, anxiety over what Mace was about to say to him.

Anakin’s eyes followed Mace as he crossed the room and settled himself into the chair by his bedside that Shmi had previously occupied. “I’m glad you’re all right, Skywalker,” Mace said, and Anakin felt startlingly gratified by how sincere he sounded. “And I’m sorry about…that.” This sentence was punctuated by a wave in the general direction of Anakin’s right arm.

“About my arm, which is now gone,” Anakin corrected him, scowling slightly. “You can just say it, sir.” The injury was so new, and yet already he was sick of hearing other people try to awkwardly skirt around it, seeing them gaze at what remained of his arm in morbid fascination before quickly looking away and pretending they hadn’t even noticed.

Mace cleared his throat. “Right. I’m sorry about your arm. But might I ask what exactly I just walked in on?”

Anakin felt himself turning red again. For a frantic moment he tried to think of some sort of excuse but soon abandoned it as hopeless; there really was no way to explain why he’d been kissing the president other than the truth. “I haven’t been completely honest with you, sir. Padmé and I have been in a relationship since last June. We didn’t want to tell anyone because we knew it would…cause some problems. But she ended things between us two weeks ago, so technically I’m not actually involved with her at this current moment,” Anakin added, hoping that might mitigate the trouble he was about to be in.

But Mace ignored that bit and gazed at him for several long moments with an expression of mild surprise, and then he was back to disapproving. “I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how incredibly inappropriate that is, Skywalker,” he said sternly. “I could and should fire you for this.”

Anakin stared down at his lap, heart sinking. “I know, sir, and I’m sorry. But…I love her.”

He chanced a glance back up and saw that Mace was pursing his lips into such a thin line they were practically invisible. Then he sighed. “We’ll talk about this particular transgression later. But I did originally come here to discuss the issue of your job.”

“The issue, sir?” Anakin questioned. He didn’t like the sound of that.

“As you know, field agents must be in peak physical condition,” Mace began rather awkwardly. “And, of course, that’s especially crucial for the agents tasked with protecting the president. So for that reason, I’m very sorry, Skywalker, but Director Yoda and I can no longer allow you to continue serving in this position.”

There was a buzzing in Anakin’s ears, and he stared at Mace who, to his credit, did look very regretful. “What?” Anakin managed at last. “You’re firing me?”

“We’re transferring you,” Mace hastened to assure him. “To a more administrative position. Or at least, that was the plan before I found out about your fling with the president; I’ll have to speak with Yoda about that and see what he thinks would be the best course of action.”

“An administrative position? So, what, I’m going to be your glorified receptionist or something?” Anakin said heatedly. “I lost my arm in the line of duty and you’re thanking me by demoting me? Or possibly firing me if Yoda thinks you should?”

Mace held up his hand in a placating gesture. “It’s not a demotion. You’ll be qualified for a pretty high-ranking administrative position since you’ve done such excellent work over the years, and the pay will be better than your current position.”

“I don’t care about the pay, I love this job. I don’t want an administrative position, I want to be out in the field.”

“I understand why you’re upset and I’m sorry it has to be this way, but this isn’t personal,” Mace said gently. “You no longer fulfill one of the requirements of your special agent position, so we need to give you a different position. That’s all there is to it. I’m sorry for springing this on you so soon, but I wanted to let you know our decision as soon as possible so you’d have time to start thinking about it.”

Anakin scowled and tried to cross his arms, then realized he couldn’t even do that basic gesture anymore and felt angry tears sting his eyes. “This job is my life,” he said in a shaking voice. “I don’t want to sit behind a desk all day. And that’s assuming you decide not to fire me for—for falling in love.”

“As I said, I can’t make any decisions about firing you right now. Yoda and I will have to discuss the matter at length since this situation is highly unprecedented,” Mace informed him. “You’ll be suspended with pay until we decide what to do.”

“Oh, so I’m getting suspended too?”

“The suspension is only because of your inappropriate relationship with the president, not because of your injury,” said Mace. “But we would have given you paid time off to recuperate anyway, so in practice it amounts to the same thing.”

“No, it doesn’t,” Anakin replied. “Medical leave is a hell of a lot different than a suspension pending termination.”

“There’s nothing we can do to resolve this situation until I talk to Yoda,” Mace said yet again. “In the meantime, you just rest and recover and try not to worry about anything other than your health.” Anakin snorted; fat chance of that. Mace stood up and, to Anakin’s astonishment, treated him to a rare smile. “Inappropriate conduct notwithstanding, your service has always been exemplary, Anakin. You saved the president’s life today, and I’d like to thank you for that on behalf of the entire Secret Service. We all wish you a speedy recovery.”

He crossed the room and opened the door, but then Padmé was hurrying back into the room and saying, “Agent Windu, I’d actually like to talk to you for a moment if that’s all right?”

“Certainly, ma’am,” Mace said as Padmé shut the door behind her.

Anakin watched her apprehensively; if she was going to try and come to Anakin’s defense about their relationship and ask Mace not to fire him, he thought it might do more harm than good at this point. But then, to his surprise, she said, “There’s something I should tell you about. It might be completely unrelated to the bombing, but I thought the timing was suspicious enough that it seemed worthwhile to talk to you.”

Mace raised his eyebrows. “Please, go on.”

“Two weeks ago, Senator Rush Clovis came to my office to speak with me,” Padmé said, looking nervous. “He was in possession of video footage of…um, an intimate moment between Anakin and me in my bedroom. He didn’t openly admit to bugging my private rooms, but he made no attempt to deny it when I accused him of doing so. He used the video to blackmail me. He threatened to send it to the tabloids if I did not end my relationship with Anakin. I complied with his demands because I was scared. That video would ruin both mine and Anakin’s lives if it ever got out.”

Anakin stared at her as she spoke, dumbfounded. If this was true…she’d only broken up with him because Clovis had blackmailed her into it? Did that mean everything she said that day about not wanting to be with him anymore was a lie?

“Senator Clovis bugged your private rooms and used the footage to blackmail you?” Mace repeated, his eyebrows drawing together. “That is extremely troubling. Why didn’t you tell someone about this sooner?”

“Because Clovis still has the tapes and he said he’d leak them if I tried to get him into trouble,” Padmé said. “He tied my hands in every possible way. I didn’t know what to do, so I kept quiet and hoped I’d figure out some solution eventually. But now, what with the bombing and everything, I realized that this information was too important to keep to myself even if it does result in the video getting out.”

Mace nodded, looking thoughtful. “This may well be no more than the scheming of a jealous ex, but you’re right, the fact that it happened only two weeks before an attempt on your life is suspicious,” he said after a moment. “This sort of thing is beyond my jurisdiction, but I’ll contact the FBI and ask them to investigate further. They may need to meet with you at some point to hear the story directly from you.”

“Of course,” Padmé said. “Could you ask them to investigate this as discreetly as possible? It’s just that I’d really rather that video not become public, so if the FBI can destroy every copy of it and apprehend Clovis before he realizes they’re onto him and leaks it, I’d really appreciate it.”

“I can’t make any promises, but I’ll make sure they’re aware of how delicate the situation is,” said Mace. “None of us wants to see you be humiliated, ma’am.”

“Thank you very much,” Padmé said, giving him a small smile.

Mace smiled back, and Anakin almost wondered if he was hallucinating having seen Mace smile two whole times in ten minutes. “Besides, I doubt Clovis would be foolish enough to release the tape anytime soon,” said Mace.

Padmé’s brow furrowed. “What do you mean?”

“You were nearly assassinated, ma’am. Everyone but the fiercest of your opponents is on your side right now and sympathizing with you,” he pointed out. “Leaking a harmful and humiliating video of you at this time would reflect poorly on the person who leaked it, not on you; the people would think it appallingly insensitive on the leaker’s part to kick you while you’re down, so to speak. Even more so if they discover that your partner in the video lost his arm protecting you during the bombing. Clovis would want to release the tape at a time when it would do maximum damage to you and the people’s opinion of you, and surely he must realize that doing so anytime in the immediate future would only generate sympathy for you rather than ill-will.”

“I think you may be overestimating his intelligence,” Padmé said, looking doubtful and hopeful at the same time. “And the average American’s sympathy for the personal problems of politicians.”

“Perhaps. But I don’t believe I’m overestimating Clovis’s self-preservation instincts,” Mace said next. “The FBI is currently looking into any and all potential threats against you as part of their investigation into the bombing. Even if Clovis posted the video anonymously the FBI would easily be able to trace it back to him, which would lead them to believe he has malicious intentions towards you and is therefore a suspect in the bombing. Clovis certainly won’t want to implicate himself in that, so I believe he wouldn’t risk leaking the tape until well after the aftermath of the bombing has died down, and the FBI will have long since been able to apprehend him by then.”

Padmé looked ever so slightly cheered by that. “I suppose you’re right.”

Mace inclined his head. “Is there anything else I can do for you, ma’am?”

“No, that’s it, thank you,” she said.

Mace bid them goodbye and headed out the door, leaving Anakin and Padmé alone. “Wait,” Anakin said once he was gone. “You only broke up with me because Clovis made you?”

“Yes,” Padmé said, looking ashamed. “I-I’m so sorry, Ani, I broke your heart for no reason because I was weak enough to let him blackmail me—”

“No, I’m not mad at you,” Anakin interrupted. “Anyone would’ve done the same thing in your position. Clovis is the only one to blame.” The more he thought about it, the angrier he got. Clovis had invaded Padmé’s privacy in the most abominable way possible, had threatened to publicly humiliate her, was still threatening her… “I swear to God, when I get my hands on him—”

But then Anakin’s hand instinctively clenched into a fist and he realized something. Hand. Not hands. He wanted nothing more than to find Clovis and strangle him, but…he couldn’t. He couldn’t. Suddenly, he realized that Mace was right to take him off Padmé’s security team. Anakin could hardly even defend her against a fly in his current state. The realization made his stomach twist.

“Anakin, the FBI will take care of him,” Padmé said, hurrying over to sit beside him and resting her hand on his shoulder to soothe him. “I don’t want you to get involved, okay? Clovis is the last thing you need to worry about right now.”

Anakin took deep breaths, trying to calm himself down. Her unspoken implication was that if he tried to get involved he would only make things worse for everyone, and he was forced to grudgingly admit to himself that she was right. The FBI would hopefully quietly take care of things and take Clovis into custody before he could post the sex tape on the internet, whereas if Anakin tracked him down and tried to beat him up with one hand, he would fail miserably and give Clovis all the more incentive to leak the tape regardless of whether or not it increased public sympathy for Padmé or implicated him in the bombing.

Anakin cleared his throat, trying to turn his thoughts away from Clovis. “So…you still—you still love me?” he said uncertainly, hardly daring to believe it.

Padmé smiled at him so brightly that his breath caught in his throat. “Of course I do,” she said. “Anakin, I’ve loved you this whole time, the past two weeks, the day I broke up with you, all the months we were together, the whole time. Everything I said that day when I told you I didn’t want to be with you anymore—that was all a lie, every single word. I do want to be with you. I don’t think our relationship was a mistake, and I do think you’re worth the risk. I only said those things because Clovis had put a bug in my office and was listening to everything we were saying to make sure I broke up with you properly.”

Anakin tentatively started to smile too. Padmé hesitantly reached out and took his left hand in her own. He instinctively made as if to cover their entwined hands with his free hand…which he no longer had. He let his useless right arm fall to his side and slumped back against the pillows, blinking away tears of frustration, his momentary joy gone just like that.

Padmé seemed to pick up on what had just happened, and she squeezed his hand before leaning in to place a gentle kiss on his cheek. “What did Mace want before I came back in?” she asked, as if hoping that would distract him from his misery.

No such luck. “He was laying out what my future’s going to look like. Best case scenario is me being stuck behind a desk all day because I can’t be a field agent if I only have one arm, and worst case scenario is me being fired for having a relationship with you,” Anakin said tonelessly.

Padmé’s eyes widened slightly. “Oh, Ani…I’m so sorry,” she said softly, and something about the tender pity on her face made Anakin start to cry. He squeezed his eyes shut in a vain effort to stop the tears from escaping, but it was no use. A moment later he felt Padmé wrapping her arms around him, and Anakin leaned against her and cried as she held him close and rubbed circles on his back and planted soft kisses in his hair.

He cried until all the tears had been wrung out of his body, and even after that Padmé didn’t let go of him. They sat in silence for a long time, and then finally Anakin said in a broken voice, “I just—I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“What exactly did Mace say about your job?” Padmé asked, and Anakin dutifully summarized the conversation. She looked thoughtful as he spoke, and when he finished, her expression had become determined. She rested her hand on his cheek and gently stroked his cheekbone with her thumb as she began to plan. “All right, here’s what we’ll do. Soon you’ll get fitted with a prosthetic arm, the best, most advanced kind money can buy—”

“How am I supposed to afford that?”

“I’ll pay for it.”

Anakin frowned. “I can’t let—”

“I’m paying for it,” Padmé repeated firmly. “You’ve done—you’ve done so much for me, Anakin. Let me do this one thing for you, please.”

His protests died in his throat, and after a moment he nodded. “Thank you,” he said quietly.

Padmé gave him another smile before continuing. “Anyway, once you get out of the hospital you’re going to move into my rooms in the White House and you’re going to rest and relax and work on adjusting while we wait for Mace and Yoda to decide what’s happening with your job,” she said. “I know it’ll be a lot to get used to, I know it’ll be hard, but I also know you can do it, Ani. And I’ll be there for you in any way I can, I promise you. Whatever you need me to do, whatever ways I can help you, just say the word and I’ll do it. And if you want, I’ll invite your mom to come stay in one of the guest rooms for as long as you both want so that she can keep you company during the day while I’m in meetings.”

Once she’d finished, Padmé looked at him, waiting for a response, but Anakin was stuck on one of the first things she’d said. “You’re—you want me to move into your rooms?” he said.

But Padmé apparently misunderstood the reason for his surprise, because she said, “I mean, you don’t have to if you don’t want to, it was just a suggestion. I-I know I hurt you, so I understand if you don’t want to be with me anymore.”

“Of course I still want to be with you,” Anakin said, flabbergasted that she could even think otherwise. “Yes, you did hurt me, but now I know the truth and I know it wasn’t your fault and that everything you said about not wanting to be with me wasn’t true, so I’m not upset with you anymore.” But then he sighed. “It’s just…”

“What?” Padmé prodded anxiously.

Anakin swallowed and glanced down at his right arm. “You deserve better than me, Padmé. Better than someone who can’t even hug you properly anymore,” he whispered, eyes starting to sting yet again. “You’re amazing, you’re beautiful and smart and funny and kind, you’re perfect. And the president of the United States to boot. You could have anyone you wanted, anyone at all. And you should have someone better instead of being stuck with me.”

A few tears slipped down his cheeks as he spoke, and he tried to prepare himself for her rejection, for her realization that he was right and she could easily do better. But it didn’t come. Instead, Padmé reached out and tilted his chin up, forcing him to look her in the eye; she looked teary, too. “You listen to me, Anakin Skywalker,” she said fiercely, though her voice trembled a little. “I could look high and low, I could comb every inch of the world, I could travel to every single city or town or village, I could meet every one of the seven billion people on this planet, and I would still never, ever be able to find anyone better than you. I don’t care how many limbs you have. I love you for your heart, for your soul. You losing an arm doesn’t change that. Nothing could ever change that. I will always choose you, Ani. Always. I love you no matter what.”

His silent tears were falling even faster now, and yet Anakin smiled at her, a brighter and wider smile than he’d had since before she’d ended their relationship. “I-I love you no matter what, too,” he said, sniffling. “I love you so much, Padmé.”

Padmé smiled back, her own cheeks dotted with tears. “I love you,” she said again, and then their lips were meeting in another kiss, messier than the one they’d shared earlier but much better now that they didn’t have an audience.

Huh. They didn’t have an audience. Anakin drew back and asked, “Where’s your detail? They shouldn’t have let you come in here alone less than twenty-four hours after an assassination attempt.”

Padmé rolled her eyes. “They’re all just outside, don’t worry. They did try to come in with me, but I pleaded so eloquently to be allowed to speak to you in private that they eventually gave up and let me.”

She gave him a winning smile, and Anakin chuckled despite himself. Then he thought back to her original proposition about what they were going to do moving forward. “So, about me moving into your rooms,” he said. “Are we not trying to keep us a secret anymore?”

“Well, now that Mace knows everything, what have we got to lose?”

“Good point,” Anakin said. “But since my job’s no longer a reason for secrecy, what about your reputation? What’ll people say when they find out?”

Padmé shrugged. “No one but the White House staff will know you’re living with me, and I trust them all not to blab. We can wait a while until both of us are ready, and then we can announce our relationship to the public. As for what they’ll say…who cares?”

“Who cares?” Anakin said, surprised. “You always did before.”

“Yes, I did. Before you almost died,” Padmé replied. “I guess that put things into perspective because suddenly all that other stuff, the way everyone’s going to gossip about us, the potential of it hurting my reelection chances—suddenly, none of that seems important. I love you and I almost lost you today, Ani. So I don’t want to hide our relationship anymore, I want everyone to know and damn the consequences.”

Anakin smiled at her, heart swelling. “That sounds good to me.”


At last Padmé’s security managed to persuade her to leave Anakin and return to the White House. “You need some sleep, ma’am, and I’m sure they really need you there to handle things,” Obi-Wan said. “And you can visit Anakin again soon and call him anytime you like.”

“I lost my phone.”

“Ah. Good point.”

But Padmé knew he was right about her having to handle things, so she reluctantly gave Anakin several goodbye kisses and allowed herself to be escorted back. She was swarmed by what felt like a million people as soon as she set foot inside the White House, all asking how she was and informing her of dozens of people she needed to call back and newspapers that wanted statements about the bombing.

And then, one voice above all the rest: “Obi-Wan!”

A figure was running down the hall so fast it was almost a blur, and then it threw its arms around Obi-Wan and stopped moving and came into focus and Padmé realized it was Satine. “You’re all right,” she was saying into his shoulder, sounding tearful. “This whole time I’ve been so afraid—”

“I’m fine,” Obi-Wan said, hugging her back. “I’m fine.”

Then Satine was kissing him and Obi-Wan was kissing her and Padmé glanced around at all the agents and staff members who’d fallen silent to watch the scene, and the exhaustion and sorrow and worry had temporarily lifted from their faces and they were all smiling for practically the first time that day.

“I love you,” Satine said breathlessly. “I’ve been trying to tell you for five years, and when I heard what happened, when—when I thought I might never get the chance to say it—”

“I-I love you too,” Obi-Wan stammered, looking amazed. “Satine, I’ve been trying to ask you this for five years, but do you want to have dinner sometime?”

She smiled broadly at him. “I would love to.”

Everyone started applauding and whistling. “Finally!” someone (probably Ahsoka) yelled over the noise.

“All right, nothing to see here,” Obi-Wan said, his face bright red. Satine just laughed and kissed him on the cheek. And as Padmé turned back to the press secretary to give her a statement, her heart felt just a little bit lighter.

Chapter Text

Anakin had to stay in the hospital for another two weeks. During that time Padmé visited him as often as she could, which was far less often than she would have liked. She wanted nothing more than to be able to camp out in his hospital room and never leave his side for the next two weeks, but her busy schedule made that impossible, especially with all the extra work she had to do dealing with the fallout of the bombing.

The televised speech she’d made the day afterwards, condemning the perpetrator and commending the bystanders for their bravery in helping the injured and expressing her grief for the victims and their families, was one of the hardest things Padmé had ever done. She did her best to hold strong and show the country that she wasn’t cowed by the attempt on her life, but she did start to get choked up towards the end. But afterwards the papers praised her display of emotion and people seemed comforted that she really was grieving alongside them, so Padmé supposed it was all for the best.

It was incredibly daunting, trying to find that balance between strength and vulnerability while knowing that everyone in the country was looking to her in the aftermath and watching how she responded, wanting to follow her example in how to react. She did her best to provide the comfort, reassurance, and strength she knew her people needed after such a frightening and tragic event, but when she fell asleep every night to the sound of screaming and explosions, she wished there was someone who would comfort her.

But at last, a week after the bombing, there was some good news: the FBI successfully apprehended Clovis and destroyed every copy of the sex tape aside from one which they’d confiscated in case they needed it as evidence in his trial (they’d assured Padmé that one would be destroyed as well as soon as the investigation was closed). They were also questioning him to try and determine if he’d had anything to do with the bombing or if the close proximity of the two events had been purely coincidental. Padmé did want to know the answer to that question, but more than anything she was just relieved he couldn’t blackmail her anymore. It felt like a huge weight off. All she needed was for Anakin to come home, and then maybe things would start going back to normal.

On his second to last evening in the hospital, Anakin barely acknowledged her when she arrived, and her heart sank. Most of the time he’d greet her with a happy smile and a playful admonishment for coming to see him rather than taking care of the country—and when he didn’t, that meant it was one of his bad days. Still, Padmé resolutely went over and gave him a kiss on the cheek, unable to help but feel hurt when he had no reaction other than to turn his head away from her slightly.

She held back a sigh and settled herself in the chair beside his bed. “How are you feeling?” she asked.

“How do you think?” Anakin replied rather sarcastically.

There was an awkward pause, and then Padmé tried, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be here any earlier today. Things have been busy.” Maybe that would prompt Anakin to ask about what she’d been up to all day and that would lead to some more safe small talk?

“It’s fine. I know you have lots of things that are more important than me.”

Dammit. “Ani, that’s not true,” she said, reaching out to rest her hand on his shoulder. He shrugged her off. “You are so, so important to me, and if I could be here with you every second of every day, I would. But I also have a duty and responsibility to the people of this country, and I can’t shirk that no matter how much I might want to.”

Anakin just leaned back against the pillows and tilted his head up to silently stare at the ceiling.

“What did the doctor say today?” Padmé prodded after several more uncomfortable minutes. “You’re still healing well?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s great.” She smiled at him, but he still wasn’t looking at her. She decided to try just one or two more conversation starters before giving up and pulling out her laptop to get some work done; pestering Anakin too much when he wasn’t in a talking mood would only make things worse. “Have you been doing any of the exercises they gave you?”

Anakin shrugged.

“I could help you work on some now if you want,” Padmé offered.

“No.”

“They’re really important for your rehabilitation, Anakin.”

“I know.”

“So why not do some with me now?”

“I don’t need your help!” he snapped.

He’s hurting. He’s grieving. It’s natural he’s lashing out. But repeating those words to herself didn’t make his words sting any less. “Ani, I love you,” Padmé said softly. “I want to help you. I need to help you even if you don’t need me to. I don’t want you to have to get through this alone. Let me share the burden.”

Anakin finally turned to look at her, but he was scowling. “So what happened to me is a burden, then? I’m a burden?”

“That’s not what I meant at all,” she said in dismay. “I meant the—the emotional burden. You’re upset, you’re angry, you’re sad, and I hate seeing you like that. I want to help you because I want you to be happy.”

His jaw clenched. “What would make me happy is if you’d just go away and leave me alone.”

“Ani—”

“I hate this!” Anakin burst out. “I hate being pitied like this! You, the doctors, the nurses, my mom, my friends, you all come in here and look at me like I’m some—some poor pathetic tragedy, and guess what, that doesn’t make me feel better! And it’s just—it’s not fair, none of this is! I’ve been through so many hardships already and now, instead of finally letting me be happy, the universe decided I just had to lose my arm, too. And then on the other hand you’ve got people like—like you, spoiled brats who’ve spent their entire lives having everything handed to them while people like me have had to work for everything we don’t have, and it’s not fair!”

Padmé felt like he’d slapped her across the face. She took a deep, shuddering breath, trying to compose herself and will away both her tears and her anger. “I can see you’d rather be alone right now,” she said quietly after several moments of deafening silence. “I’m sorry for bothering you, I was only trying to—” The word “help” caught in Padmé’s throat as she remembered no, Anakin didn’t want help, he was sick of being pitied, and so she left her sentence unfinished, got to her feet, and hurried out of the room before Anakin could apologize or stop her. Not that he probably would have anyway.

Objectively, Padmé knew not to take his harsh words seriously. She knew that he was going through a terrible physical and emotional ordeal and that that was bound to make anyone a little snippy. She knew she must have walked in while he was feeling especially upset and he’d just been lashing out at the nearest target, which happened to be her. She knew she’d go to see him the next day and he’d apologize profusely for his behavior, as he always did after he’d been moody with her.

But none of that stopped tears from rolling down her cheeks as she lay in bed that night and replayed the incident in her mind. Anakin had been moody with her before in the two weeks since the bombing, yes, but never had he even come close to the vicious tirade he’d unleashed that day. Even if he hadn’t really meant it, those thoughts had to have come from somewhere. Was that really deep down how he saw her? A spoiled brat who’d never had to work a day in her life?

Padmé tossed and turned all night, and it was with no small amount of trepidation that she headed over to the hospital the next morning (she’d originally had a meeting with Bail, but he’d been very understanding about her wanting to cancel in favor of visiting Anakin seeing as she’d spilled the details of their relationship to him shortly after the bombing). She was scared Anakin’s bad mood would have carried over to that day, but to her relief, he offered her a small smile when she pushed the door open.

Padmé smiled back, but then he dropped his gaze, looking ashamed. “I wasn’t sure you’d be back today,” he mumbled.

“Of course I’m back,” she said, crossing the room and sitting in the chair.

“But after the way I treated you yesterday—” Anakin broke off and looked back up at her, his expression miserable. “Padmé, I am so, so sorry. I should never have said those horrible things to you, I didn’t mean any of them. You’ve been so incredibly supportive this entire time, and it wasn’t fair for me to lash out at you like that. You’re not a—a spoiled brat. You’re literally the most hardworking person I’ve ever known.” He paused, then added wryly, “I guess I was just in the middle of a pity party when you got there yesterday. Convinced that the world was out to get me.”

Padmé took his hand and squeezed it. “It’s all right, Ani. I can’t even begin to imagine what you must be going through, but I understand if—”

“It’s not all right,” Anakin interrupted, shaking his head. “And that’s exactly what I mean about everyone pitying me. You’re all skirting around me and letting me get away with acting like a dick. I don’t get a free pass to be obnoxious just because I lost my arm. You better call me out if I ever talk to you like that again, okay?”

“Will do,” Padmé said with a chuckle. Then her smile faded. “You were right, though. It isn’t fair. It—it should’ve been me. This only happened to you, to everyone who was hurt or killed in the explosion, because the bomber was trying to get me, and if you knew the way I’ve been…suffocated by guilt this entire time—” She paused, feeling her throat close up. “It should be me in that hospital bed, not you. It should be me. I wish it was me.”

“Don’t say that,” Anakin said at once, sliding his hand out of her grasp and reaching up to brush the few stray tears off her cheeks. “Don’t feel guilty, please. None of this is your fault. And actually, my one silver lining in this whole thing is that it wasn’t you even though it so easily could’ve been. Whenever I’m upset, I remind myself that the alternative to me losing my arm was you losing yours, or maybe even you losing your life, and suddenly the current situation doesn’t seem so bad anymore. I mean, yeah, obviously I wish this had never happened, but if it had to, I am so glad that it happened to me instead of you, Padmé.” Then he gave her a cheeky grin. “Besides, if it hadn’t happened, you might never have admitted you still loved me, so there’s another plus.”

Padmé gave a watery laugh and scooched her chair as close to him as possible so that she could lean against him, head resting on his shoulder and arm draped gently over him as his arm wrapped around her waist and pulled her closer. They sat there in a contented silence for several minutes before Padmé said, “So, are you ready to get out of here tomorrow?”

“Hell yeah.”

Anakin eventually managed to dissuade her from coming to collect him from the hospital the next morning, insisting that it was a waste of her valuable time, so instead Padmé decided to gather as much of the White House staff as possible in the entrance hall to welcome him when he arrived. Ahsoka had gone to pick him up since she wasn’t on duty that morning (though Obi-Wan was; he’d temporarily taken up Anakin’s old position as the head of Padmé’s team).

When the pair of them walked in, there was a loud mix of cheers, applause, and “welcome back”s. Anakin gazed around in astonishment and for a moment Padmé worried she’d misjudged and he would’ve preferred to return with as little fuss as possible, but then he beamed and started making his way down the hall, stopping to thank people and exchange the occasional hug as he went. Finally he reached Padmé, who was also smiling. “Welcome back, Ani,” she said, and then she pulled him in for a kiss.

Anakin eagerly kissed her back, resting his hand on her waist. Padmé could hear a few gasps from the onlookers, though not as many as she would’ve expected; perhaps word had been spreading around the staff from the agents who’d witnessed the scene in the hospital the first day.

At last they drew apart and Padmé turned to face the staff, Anakin’s arm still around her waist. Blushing a little, she nevertheless said, “As some of you might have already heard, Anakin and I are in a relationship. We want you all to know now but we’d rather the general public not find out until we’re ready, so if you could keep this to yourselves for a while, we’d really appreciate it.”

There was a smattering of nods and “yes ma’am”s, and Padmé thanked them before turning to head upstairs with Anakin. “Obi-Wan and I have been working on bringing all your things down from your room upstairs,” she said as they walked into her bedroom. “I wasn’t sure where you’d want everything, but I put your clothes in the drawers and the closet, and your toothbrush and everything’s in the bathroom, but if you want to move stuff around—”

“I’m sure it’s all fine,” Anakin interrupted soothingly. “Thank you for doing all that.”

Padmé chuckled. “Sorry, I’m just…kind of nervous, I guess, I mean, this is the first time I’ve lived with anyone in a long time, and I just—I want everything to be perfect.”

He smiled and kissed her on the nose. “Everything is perfect. It’s good to be home.”

Home. The simple word somehow made tears spring to Padmé’s eyes, and Anakin looked worriedly at her. “What? What’s wrong?”

“You called this home,” she said, beaming at him.

“What else would I call it?” Anakin replied, looking bemused but also smiling.

Padmé laughed and stood up on her tiptoes to kiss him. Several minutes and kisses later, she forced herself to step back and say, “Well, I have to get to a meeting now, but I’ll see you at dinner.”

“Can’t wait.”

“Now, you get settled in here and move stuff around if you want, and call me or send someone to find me if you need anything,” Padmé instructed. “Your mom’s flight gets in at three and I arranged for a car to pick her up, so you can go with them if you want or just wait here for her, whichever you’d rather.” Shmi had gone home a few days earlier to pack for a longer stay, seeing as she’d initially been so frantic to see Anakin after the bombing that she hadn’t thought to bring much with her.

“Okay. I’ll be fine, stop worrying,” Anakin said in a tone of fond exasperation. “See you tonight. Have fun at your meeting.”

Padmé made a face and he laughed, and they exchanged one last kiss before she reluctantly headed out the door.


Anakin spent the next hour or two checking out the room and rearranging his things as he saw fit, though Padmé was a hundred times more organized than he could ever hope to be and had already done an excellent job of moving him in. Not to mention that it was difficult to do much one-handed; he ended up leaving most things where they were rather than struggling to move them somewhere else.

Anakin opted to wait for Shmi to arrive instead of going to meet her. He wasn’t in the mood to go out in public and have everyone stare at his arm and then quickly look away when he looked at them. As soon as she walked in the door, she dropped her bags and hurried over to give him a hug. “How are you feeling?” she asked.

“Better,” Anakin said honestly. He’d been getting very antsy during the last few days in the hospital, and even after only a few hours at home his spirits were improving. As frustrating as it was to try and accomplish simple tasks that suddenly required a hundred times more effort than they had before, it was also nice to finally be gaining some of his independence back instead of being stuck in a hospital room all day with nurses or visitors helping him do everything.

Anakin gave Shmi a quick tour of the White House, grinning at her awestruck expression, before bringing her to the room she’d be staying in for a while, on the same floor as Padmé’s. His and Padmé’s, he mentally corrected himself. Being so open about their relationship after spending so much time trying to hide it was strange, but very refreshing.

Once they arrived in Shmi’s room, they sat down to chat for a while. “Cliegg, Owen, and Beru wanted to come with me, but I told them we couldn’t all afford to take that much time off work,” she said, chuckling. “But they told me to pass along their best wishes, and also this.”

She handed Anakin an envelope, and he started opening it slowly and with quite a bit of difficulty. “Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize—here, let me,” Shmi said, reaching for it.

Anakin jerked it out of her grasp. “No, I can do it,” he said stubbornly. Shmi backed off, albeit rather reluctantly, and at last Anakin managed to get the envelope open. He smiled as he pulled out a get well soon card signed by what looked like his entire hometown. “Thanks. This is really nice.”

Shmi smiled back. “Even in just the few days I was home again, I can’t tell you how many people came up to me on the street or in the grocery store asking after you and telling me to wish you well and saying how brave you are and how proud I must be.” She leaned over and pecked him on the cheek. “I’m very proud, for the record.”

Anakin rolled his eyes, though he was blushing a little and still smiling. “Padmé said to tell you she’s sorry she couldn’t be here to greet you but she’s looking forward to seeing us both for dinner,” he said next.

“Oh, that’s all right, I’m sure she must be very busy,” Shmi said. Then her expression turned a little nervous. “How many people are going to be at dinner? I brought my nicest clothes but they’re still not very nice compared to President Amidala’s, I’m sure.”

“I’ve told you to call her Padmé, and it’s just the three of us for dinner in her private dining room. Very informal,” Anakin assured her. “And honestly, Padmé couldn’t care less how nice your clothes are, she’s not that kind of person, I promise. I mean, I’m just going to be wearing this, so…”

He indicated the long-sleeved T-shirt and sweatpants he was wearing (buttons and zippers were too much trouble for him to bother with for the time being), and Shmi chuckled. “Still, you can’t blame me for being nervous about having dinner in the White House with the president who also happens to be my son’s girlfriend,” she said. “That’s a lot of pressure for one meal.”

“Fair enough,” Anakin said, also laughing a little. “But you already talked with her at length at the hospital when she told you about our relationship—” Padmé had apologized afterwards for doing so without consulting him, but Anakin was just relieved he wouldn’t have to explain things to Shmi himself “—and that was fine, wasn’t it?”

“It was,” Shmi admitted. “She does seem very lovely.”

“That’s because she is lovely. Seriously, she’s the kindest and most approachable person ever, and she’s really excited to get to know you better. She’ll love you, and you’ll love her.”

“I still can’t believe you dated the president of the United States for ten months without telling me,” Shmi said a moment later, though her tone was mild and free from any genuine rebuke. She’d adjusted to the news remarkably well; Anakin supposed she was so worried about him after the bombing that she wasn’t about to yell at him for being in a relationship that made him happy.

“Sorry,” he said sheepishly. “But you know how impossible it is for her to have any privacy, we were just doing everything we could to stay out of the spotlight. And I didn’t exactly want to get fired either.”

Shmi’s smile faded a little. “Has Mace gotten back to you about your job yet?”

Anakin shook his head. “The entire Secret Service is swamped dealing with the bombing, I’m sure it’ll be a while before he has time to sit down with Director Yoda and decide what to do with me. And I was actually thinking…I might just resign.”

“Resign?” Shmi said, looking startled. “But you love this job.”

“I know, but between dating the president behind Mace’s back and losing my arm, it’s very unlikely I’ll get to keep it, so I’d rather leave on my own terms than get fired or transferred to a boring desk job,” Anakin said. “Besides, the president’s boyfriend is supposed to be protected, not do the protecting. They’ll probably have to assign me my own security detail once we make our relationship public.”

“Oh, that’s true, I hadn’t thought of that. And it’ll be good for you to have a long time off to recuperate without having to worry about a job on top of that,” Shmi said, nodding.

“That’s exactly what Padmé said. See? You guys will get along great, you obviously have a lot in common.”

Sure enough, dinner went swimmingly. Padmé and Shmi were clearly both very nervous, and stilted small talk reigned for the first few minutes. But then Padmé wisely thought to ask about what Anakin had been like growing up, a subject which Shmi was all too happy to elaborate on. Anakin protested as Shmi regaled Padmé with embarrassing childhood story after embarrassing childhood story, but his protests were really just for show; despite all the pain he’d endured over the past several weeks, seeing his girlfriend and his mother laughing together at his expense made him feel warmer and more content than he’d felt in a long time.

Padmé had to finish up some work after dinner, so Anakin and Shmi sat and talked for another hour before Shmi excused herself to finish unpacking and Anakin returned to his and Padmé’s room. Padmé came back after he’d been watching TV for only about twenty minutes. “Back already?” he said in surprise; it was only nine o’clock.

“The only other thing I have to do tonight is read these—” She held up a rather large stack of papers “—so I figured I might as well do it in here and spend some time with you. I feel like I’ve barely seen you all day.” She plopped down on the sofa beside him and leaned in to kiss him. “How was your day?”

“Pretty good. Didn’t really do much,” Anakin replied. “You?”

“I did too much,” Padmé said wryly, and he laughed. “What did your mom think of dinner?”

“She thought it was delicious, and if you really meant what did she think of you, she was raving about how great you are for, like, an hour after you left,” Anakin said, smiling when Padmé’s expression immediately relaxed.

“Really? Thank God, I was hoping to make a good first-ish impression.”

“Well, you definitely did,” Anakin said. Then he yawned. “I think I’m going to shower and go to bed, I’m kinda tired.”

Padmé nodded. “Okay. Do you want any help?”

It was a perfectly reasonable offer and in fact Anakin had been having trouble showering on his own, but he hated how helpless the words made him feel, how infantilized. “No,” he said rather shortly, then, feeling guilty, tacked on a “Thanks.”

He grabbed another long-sleeved T-shirt and a pair of pajama pants before heading into the bathroom. Showers took him about ten times longer than usual now and he still hadn’t managed to figure out how to wash his left arm properly since he couldn’t reach it with his left hand; he ended up squirting some of Padmé’s body wash on his shoulder and letting it run down the rest of his arm. He’d really need to figure out a better system unless he wanted his arm to smell like Paris Amour for the rest of his life. Whatever the hell Paris Amour was even supposed to smell like.

At last Anakin was (mostly) clean, and he hopped out of the shower and proceeded to spend another excruciating length of time drying himself off, changing the bandages on his arm, and getting dressed. He wandered back out into the bedroom, yawning again.

Padmé was on the sofa with her giant pile of papers, but she looked up and smiled at him as he entered. “Everything go okay?”

Anakin shrugged. “For the most part, I guess.”

“That’s good. I was thinking maybe I should sleep on the couch for a little while so that I don’t bump your arm by accident. I know you said it’s still feeling sore,” she said.

He frowned. “I’m not going to make you sleep on the couch in your own room for however many weeks or months it takes my arm to stop feeling sore. I can sleep in another bed somewhere else for the time being.”

“First of all, it’s our room now, not just mine. And I want to sleep in the same room as you in case you need anything during the night,” Padmé replied. “Honestly, it’s fine, I promise. I’m always so tired at the end of the day that I could fall asleep standing up and not even notice the difference.”

“Fine,” Anakin said reluctantly, knowing it was nearly impossible to talk Padmé out of something once she’d made up her mind that it was the right course of action. He kissed her goodnight and climbed into bed, drifting off almost immediately to the sounds of her puttering around the room.


“Anakin…no, no, please…Anakin, no…”

Anakin awoke with a start, blinking confusedly in the darkness. “Padmé?” he said. No response. Until—

“Ani? Ani! No, no, no—”

He leapt to his feet, heart in his throat, and hurried over to the couch, relief coursing through him as he saw that Padmé was still asleep and not in any pain or danger. But she was tossing and turning, a distressed expression on her sleeping face, and Anakin realized she was having a nightmare.

“Padmé,” he said loudly, gently grabbing her shoulder with his left hand. “Padmé, wake up, it’s just a dream.”

Padmé jolted awake and sat bolt upright, gasping and looking at him with wild eyes. “Ani, you have to move, it’s going to go off any second!” she said in a panicked voice.

“I’m fine, Padmé,” Anakin said, soft but firm. “I’m not in any danger and neither are you. You were dreaming, that’s all. It was just a dream. We’re both safe, okay?”

Her breathing was slowing down, but her skin was cold and clammy. “I-I thought—there was a bomb, you—you were about to die—”

“I’m not about to die. It was just a dream,” Anakin repeated in a soothing tone, moving his hand up to stroke her sweaty hair. But underneath his calm exterior, his heart was breaking at the terrified look in her eyes and at the thought that her subconscious had forced her to relive that horrible day.

Padmé took a deep, shaky breath, and then she started to cry. “Shhh, it’s okay,” Anakin murmured, and he wrapped his arms around her, wishing he could give her a proper hug with two arms instead of one and a half. He held her close against him as she wept, kissing her cheek and rubbing her back. “It’s all right, Padmé. It was just a dream. It’s all right.”

Eventually her tears subsided into silence, and they sat there quietly for a long time. “Every night,” Padmé suddenly said in a small voice.

“What?”

“Every night since the—the bombing, I’m always there again, living it again—” She broke off, sniffling.

Anakin drew back slightly and gazed at her in dismay. “You’ve been having these nightmares every night?” Padmé nodded. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I-I don’t know, I just thought—you’re dealing with so much and I didn’t want to bother you, and it’s stupid, I wasn’t even hurt at all, I—I have no right to be upset when other people were the ones who got hurt, when other people lost loved ones because of me—”

“That’s absolutely not true,” Anakin interrupted. “Just because you weren’t physically injured doesn’t mean you weren’t traumatized by what happened. It’s not a question of who has a right to be upset, but even if it was, you would have that right. You were there along with the rest of us. And you saw it all, whereas I blacked out pretty quick and didn’t see the aftermath of the explosion, which I’m sure must’ve been really terrible to witness.”

Padmé sniffled again. “I’m sorry for waking you. You need rest.”

“And that’s another thing,” he continued. “You’ve been so busy taking care of everyone else that you haven’t stopped to take care of yourself. I mean, I’ve been doing nothing but sitting around and sleeping for two weeks whereas you’ve been frantic trying to deal with things, and yet your reaction to having a nightmare is to apologize for waking me up? You need rest way more than I do. Come on, you’re sleeping in the bed with me.”

“But your arm—”

“It’s fine, I don’t care,” Anakin said firmly. “You need a good night’s sleep.”

He ushered her over to the bed and made her get in, then climbed under the covers beside her and snuggled up against her, thinking hard. The doctors had recommended that he see a therapist or grief counselor in addition to his physical therapy to help him manage the emotional toll of losing his arm. Maybe it would be a good idea to have Padmé see a therapist as well; she’d clearly been bottling everything up for the past two weeks and needed someone to talk things through with. Ideally someone who was more professional than Anakin.

He decided to suggest the idea to her the next morning, but for now, it was late and she was probably exhausted if she’d been plagued by nightmares every night for two weeks, so Anakin just pressed a kiss to the top of her head and waited until her breathing had grown slow and even before drifting off himself.

Chapter Text

Padmé pushed open the bedroom door just as a pen came whizzing across the room and smacked into the wall next to her head before dropping to the floor. She yelped in surprise and looked over to see Anakin standing in the middle of the room, looking angry and frustrated. “What’s going on?” she said cautiously.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean—I didn’t realize you were about to come in.”

“So that pen wasn’t aimed at me, then?”

“Of course not.”

“That’s a relief.” Padmé approached him and saw that he was holding some sort of card. She gently pried it out of his grasp and observed it. It was a thank-you card, and inside was written in wobbly letters Dear Cliegg, Owen, and- and half of the following B, after which point Anakin had presumably thrown the pen. “What’s this?” she asked.

Anakin sighed and flopped onto the couch. “I was trying to send the Larses a thank-you note for that card my mom brought me,” he explained, “but I can’t write with my left hand.”

Padmé reached up to play with his hair, trying to calm him down a little. “I’ll do it for you,” she offered. “Tell me what you want to say.”

“But I wanted to do it myself.”

“I know that, but you haven’t gotten much practice writing with your left hand yet,” Padmé pointed out gently. “So why don’t you let me write this for now, and over the next few months you can work on learning to write with your left hand? I know you’ll get there with practice.”

Anakin grudgingly conceded after a minute, so Padmé went to pick up the pen and sat down at the desk in the corner of the room, then dutifully copied down the message he dictated to her and addressed the envelope when she was done. “There. All set,” she said, passing the card and envelope back to him, knowing he’d want to try sealing the envelope himself.

“Thanks.” Anakin put the envelope on the desk and held it in place with his right elbow so that he could slide the card inside with his left hand. Looking satisfied, he proceeded to seal the envelope and put it on the bedside table so he’d remember to send it out with the mail later.

For weeks afterwards, Anakin threw himself into learning to write left-handed with vigor. Nearly every evening, Padmé would come back to their room to find him hard at work at the desk, surrounded by sheets of paper covered in writing and dozens of crumpled-up wads on the floor after he’d thrown them there in frustration. It took time, but he did gradually start to improve, and Padmé knew his slow but steady progress was encouraging to him, that it made him realize maybe he could adjust to life with one hand after all. For her part, she was glad that all this writing practice gave him something to do, some concrete goal to work towards, because before he’d spent every day aimlessly hanging around their rooms bored out of his mind.

Anakin was making good progress in other areas as well but was still often frustrated by how challenging it was to adapt. Padmé, meanwhile, was starting to get good at determining when he wanted to be left alone to finish a task himself or when he actually wanted help. Usually it was the former; he was very proud and hated feeling helpless, and his refusal to ever admit when he needed help was a habit Padmé was attempting to break him of, without a whole lot of success thus far.

“You’re wearing a short-sleeved shirt,” she said in surprise when Anakin came out of the bathroom one morning in early May.

She realized her mistake immediately: Anakin tensed up and glanced down at his right arm, then at the floor. “Yeah, it’s pretty hot today, so…”

“Very true. I wish I could wear T-shirts to meetings, I’m already getting hot in this pantsuit,” Padmé said with a laugh, trying to keep the conversation light and silently cursing herself for speaking so carelessly. Anakin had been exclusively wearing long-sleeved shirts for the past few weeks despite the increasingly warm weather; this was the first time Padmé had even seen his arm since the hospital. He was probably very self-conscious, and it was stupid of her to draw attention to his choice of shirt.

She wanted to tell him he looked nice but decided that it would probably be better to just drop the subject entirely, so instead she finished putting her earrings on and went over to kiss him. But she couldn’t help but glance down at his arm, and her brow furrowed as she noticed that the bandages didn’t look as neat as they had at the hospital. Padmé teetered on the edge, debating whether or not she should say anything, but ultimately her concern for Anakin’s physical wellbeing won out over her concern for his feelings. “Are your bandages on correctly? They look a little odd.”

Anakin shrugged and dropped his eyes. “It’s kinda hard to do myself,” he mumbled. “But they’re pretty much fine.”

“Pretty much fine?” Padmé echoed, frowning. “They need to be on completely correctly or else your arm could get infected. Why haven’t you been asking me for help? I’d be happy to do it.”

“It’s fine,” Anakin replied, shaking her off and moving away a little. “It didn’t get infected.”

“But it could.”

“It’s almost done healing.”

“Anakin, listen to me,” Padmé said seriously. “I’m perfectly happy to let you do most things on your own, and I think it’s really great that you’re so independent already. You’re making amazing progress. But something like this, something that directly affects your health? You should be asking me for help. This isn’t buttoning a shirt or washing your hair, it’s something that could have really dangerous consequences if it’s not done properly. Look, there’s a gap in the bandages there, and there, and there, and there. What if some dirt or something got in there before your arm’s fully healed and you got an infection and died?”

Anakin rolled his eyes so hard it was a wonder they didn’t fall out. “I’m not going to die from a tiny speck of dirt getting in there.”

“You never know,” Padmé insisted. “Come on, please let me change them for you. You can show me how to do it, it’ll only take a minute. I know you want to do things yourself and I’m glad that’s the case, but it’s okay to ask for help every now and then.”

“That’s ironic, coming from someone who shoulders everyone else’s problems and ignores her own until she wakes up screaming in the middle of the night,” Anakin shot back.

Padmé frowned at him, stung. She had to admit he had a point, but she’d just started seeing a therapist as he’d suggested and was trying to work on allowing herself to depend on others, which Anakin knew perfectly well. Indeed, his expression immediately went from annoyed to ashamed and he sighed. “I’m sorry, that wasn’t fair.”

“It’s fine,” Padmé said, studying him closely. “Ani, what’s really going on? Why don’t you want me to help with your bandages? There’s some other reason you’re not saying, I know there is.”

Sure enough, Anakin started fidgeting and wouldn’t meet her eyes. “It’s just…you haven’t seen my arm without the bandages yet,” he said at last. “And…it looks weird.” Padmé quietly waited for him to elaborate, which he did after another moment. “So I don’t know, I guess I’m just—just scared that you’ll be disgusted when you see it.”

“What?” she said, staring at him. “Ani, I could never be disgusted by the way you look. You’re perfect to me no matter what.”

“Yeah, you keep saying that, but how do I know you’re not just lying to make me feel better?”

“I’ll prove it to you. Let me take the bandages off,” Padmé said calmly.

Anakin was silent for a long time, and then he slowly held his arm out to her. Padmé reached out and gently unwrapped the bandages, then observed his arm for a while. The skin was still a little pinker than usual, but other than that she was surprised by how smooth it looked. They’d taken the stitches out earlier that week, and the skin of his upper arm seamlessly connected to the bits they’d sewn on to cover the site of amputation.

Padmé smiled at him, then bent down and pressed a kiss to his arm (above his elbow, though; she was still worried about the wound getting infected). “Beautiful,” she said softly, looking back up at him. “Just like every part of you.”

Anakin sniffled a little and reached up to scrub tears from his eyes, and Padmé wrapped her arms around him. “I love you, Ani. And I don’t want you to ever feel self-conscious around me, okay? I’ll never judge you for anything, I promise.”

She felt him nod. “I love you too,” he said.

Padmé let go of him after a few minutes, then said, “Now, how about you show me how to put some new bandages on?”


A couple days later, Padmé was mysteriously assigned a completely new temporary security team, and Anakin was called to a meeting with the rest of her original team and Mace. He took a seat between Obi-Wan and Ahsoka when he arrived. “Do you know what this is about?” he asked.

They both shook their heads. “How have you been doing?” Obi-Wan said.

“Pretty all right, given the situation,” Anakin replied. “So how was your date with Satine?”

Obi-Wan turned a little pink and smiled. “It was great. We’re officially in a relationship now.”

Anakin beamed back at him. “That’s awesome!”

“Damn, making things official after only one date? It took three for me and Riyo,” Ahsoka said.

“Well, you and Riyo were only pining over each other for a few months instead of five years,” Anakin pointed out, making Obi-Wan roll his eyes.

Mace entered and called everyone to attention before either Obi-Wan or Ahsoka could reply. “You’re probably all wondering why you’re here, so I’ll get right to it. You all know about the situation with Rush Clovis?” Murmurs of assent. “The FBI has been questioning him for several weeks now and yesterday he finally revealed that he himself did not plant the bugs in President Amidala’s private rooms. They were planted there by someone on her personal security team.”

Shocked gasps echoed through the room, and Anakin stared at Mace in horror. Someone in that room had betrayed Padmé? After vowing an oath to protect her at all costs? “Who was it?” he demanded.

“Clovis doesn’t know,” Mace replied. “He claims to be a pawn in a bigger scheme which orchestrated the blackmail setup as well as the bombing. According to Clovis, the logic was that given Anakin’s relationship with the president, if she ended things with him just before the bombing, he would be so upset with her that he would be off his game in terms of protecting her. Fortunately, that was not the case. Now, whoever did this may well have been unaware that an assassination attempt was the endgame of planting a bug in her room, but the fact remains that somebody in this room betrayed the president. If that person still possesses any shred of loyalty and decency, they will come forward right now.”

Dead silence. Anakin was looking all around the room, trying to wrap his head around the fact that one of these people, one of his coworkers, one of his friends, one of the people he trusted more than anyone else in the world, had been partially responsible for the bombing. One of them had tried to kill Padmé, whether they knew they were part of a bigger scheme or not. Even if they hadn’t known they were helping with an assassination plot, they’d still agreed to bug her private rooms, which was an appalling betrayal in and of itself.

Mace sighed when no one came forward after several long minutes. “I suppose we’ll have to do this the hard way. Every single one of you will be called in for questioning by the FBI, and you are all suspended from your posts until this is resolved. The president cannot continue to be protected by any of you when we don’t know which one is the traitor.”

“Excuse me, sir, but why am I here?” Anakin said. “Obviously I wouldn’t want to blackmail my own girlfriend into breaking up with me, especially not by making a sex tape of us together that would ruin my own life if it got out.”

“Solid reasoning, Skywalker, but you never know,” Mace said crisply.

“But if the point of the blackmail scheme was to upset Anakin into being an inattentive bodyguard, it wouldn’t make any sense if he was in on it,” Ahsoka pointed out. “Plus, we all saw him throw himself on top of the president when the bomb went off, he wouldn’t have tried to save her life if he was part of the plot in the first place.”

“Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense for it to have been Anakin,” Quinlan Vos said. “What we really need to know is who here knew about his and the president’s relationship before the bombing. Clovis and Wesell had to have found out about them somehow.”

“A fair point, and that was my next question,” Mace said. “Who knew Anakin was in a relationship with the president before the bombing?”

Obi-Wan and Ahsoka slowly raised their hands. No one else did. Mace pursed his lips and wrote something down in his notebook.

“Oh, come on, neither of them did this,” Anakin protested.

“Is there anyone in this room you wouldn’t say that for?” Mace countered, and Anakin fell silent. “That’s what I thought. None of us would think that any of the rest of us would betray the president, but clearly someone did, and right now Obi-Wan and Ahsoka are looking like our prime suspects.”

Anakin felt sick. Obi-Wan and Ahsoka both looked nauseous as well. “But maybe whoever planted the bug didn’t actually know about their relationship,” Luminara suggested. “Perhaps the perpetrators were originally just looking for any general information they could use against the president, and it wasn’t until they saw the footage of her with Anakin that they decided on the details of their plan.”

“And besides, they could’ve easily suspected the relationship without knowing for a fact,” Kit Fisto added. “I think most of us had our suspicions, to be honest.”

The others nodded and murmured in agreement, and Anakin felt himself turning red. “Come on, we weren’t that obvious.”

“No, you definitely were,” Quinlan said, snickering.

“All right, that concludes this meeting,” Mace interrupted before anyone could say anything more. “Do not leave DC until this is over and be prepared to answer questions from the FBI. You may go.”

They all filed out silently. “Look, I know you guys didn’t do this,” Anakin said in a low voice to Obi-Wan and Ahsoka. “I’m sure they’ll figure out the truth soon.”

“I hope so,” whispered Ahsoka; she looked scared, and even the ever-stoic Obi-Wan’s eyes were filled with worry.

Anakin gave them both an encouraging smile and headed back upstairs, troubled and shaken.

“What was that meeting with Mace about?” Padmé asked when she returned that evening.

Anakin bit his lip. He wasn’t entirely sure he should tell her, but on the other hand, maybe she’d know something that would help. So he led her over to the sofa to sit down and filled her in on what had happened, and she was equally shocked when he finished.

“I can’t believe any of them would do this,” she said in a shaking voice. “I trust them all with my life. Or at least, I did.”

“I know,” Anakin said grimly. He sighed and slid his arm around her waist. “They’ll get to the bottom of everything soon. Maybe—maybe Clovis was lying.”

“Maybe,” Padmé said rather doubtfully. “But it does make sense that they would’ve had someone on the inside working with them. How else would they have gotten the bug into my bedroom?”

Anakin privately agreed, but he didn’t say so because he didn’t want to make her feel any worse than she already did.

The next week was stressful and miserable as everyone on Padmé’s team was interrogated one by one. Anakin was relieved that the FBI seemed to believe he hadn’t been involved—it would be illogical on many levels—but he was very worried about Obi-Wan and Ahsoka. The fact that they were the only two who had known about his and Padmé’s relationship, the entire subject of the blackmailing, was pretty damning. Anakin prayed new evidence would come to light soon to divert suspicion from them. Of course he didn’t want anyone on the team to be the traitor, but Obi-Wan and Ahsoka had always been the two he was closest with.

At the end of the week, Anakin stopped by Ahsoka’s apartment for a visit. “How are you holding up?” he asked.

Ahsoka sighed and led him over to the couch. “Not great. I swore up and down to the FBI that I had no part in any of this, but I don’t think they believed me,” she said. “Do you want anything to drink?”

“No thanks, I’m all set.” Anakin heaved a sigh too. “I can’t believe they suspect you just because you knew about Padmé and me before the bombing. I never would’ve told you if I’d known it would get you into trouble like this.”

“You didn’t tell us, we walked in on you,” Ahsoka said wryly. “And there’s no way you could’ve ever known this would happen.”

“Still, I shouldn’t have tried to make you keep it a secret. If I’d let Obi-Wan tattle on us to Mace the way he wanted to—”

“—you would’ve gotten fired and probably wouldn’t have been there to save the president that day,” she pointed out. “Seriously, Anakin, this isn’t your fault. We just have to hope they’ll be able to figure out who really did this.”

“But it is my fault that someone on the team betrayed Padmé,” Anakin said heavily. “I was the one in charge, it was my responsibility to make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to—”

“If someone betrayed her, it’s their fault for being a terrible person, not yours for failing to realize they were doing it,” Ahsoka cut him off. “Besides, all of us are responsible for keeping each other in check, and no one had any idea this was going on. It wasn’t just you.”

They fell into a gloomy silence for several minutes. Then Ahsoka said tentatively, “Anakin, you…you do believe it wasn’t me, right?”

“Of course I do,” he said at once. “You and Obi-Wan are my best friends, I trust you more than anyone in the world. I know neither of you would ever do this, and so does Padmé.”

“She believes us too?” Ahsoka said, looking hopeful.

Anakin nodded, but before he could elaborate someone started pounding on the door. “FBI, open up!”

Anakin went cold all over, and Ahsoka gave him a terrified look. She stood up, trembling, and headed over to the door to open it.

At once, FBI agents were bursting in and surrounding her. “Ahsoka Tano, you are under arrest for conspiring to assassinate the president of the United States!”

“What?” Ahsoka gasped.

Anakin jumped to his feet as well. “You don’t have enough evidence to warrant an arrest!”

“I’m afraid we do, Agent Skywalker,” one of the agents said. “One of the phones found at the crime scene was identified as Zam Wesell’s, and we analyzed it and discovered that she received a call from Ahsoka Tano’s number two hours before the bombing.”

“I didn’t call her! I’ve never talked to her in my life!” Ahsoka said desperately. “I didn’t do this, I swear, please—”

But her protests fell on deaf ears, and the FBI agents read her her rights and escorted her out of the building. Anakin ran over to the window and watched her get into a police car, which drove off a moment later.

He sat back down on the couch with a thump, ears buzzing. This wasn’t happening. There was no way this was real. Ahsoka couldn’t go to jail for a crime she didn’t commit, she couldn’t. If they’d really found a call from her on Zam Wesell’s phone…someone must be framing her.

Anakin had already lost so much, he wasn’t about to lose one of his closest friends too. He needed to find a way to prove Ahsoka’s innocence. But how?

Chapter Text

“They’ll find more evidence soon to prove Ahsoka didn’t do it, they have to,” Padmé said, reaching out to rest her hand on Anakin’s shoulder. He was sitting at the dining room table with his head in his hand, about a week after Ahsoka’s arrest.

“But what if they don’t? Padmé, what if she gets convicted and goes to jail?” he said, lifting his head to look at her with an anguished expression.

“She won’t. She’s innocent,” Padmé said firmly. Like Anakin, she believed in Ahsoka’s innocence despite the evidence against her, but it looked like they were about the only two people who did.

“Innocent people go to jail all the time. That’s how this country works. Democracy isn’t as perfect as you think it is.”

“I don’t think democracy is perfect. Far from it,” Padmé said. “But we have to believe they’ll prove Ahsoka’s innocence somehow. We have to fight back rather than just giving up. Besides, how could she have planted the bugs? She’s never been in my room, as far as I know. You and Obi-Wan are the only agents who ever have.”

Anakin sighed and didn’t respond. They sat in silence for a few minutes until dinner was brought out, and then he sighed again. “What’s the matter? You don’t like fish?” Padmé asked.

“I used to, but that food poisoning incident kind of turned me off it,” he muttered.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot all about that. I can let the chef know not to—” But then Padmé stopped short, suddenly remember something. Food poisoning…Anakin had been out of commission for a few days…

“You okay?” Anakin said.

“You and Obi-Wan aren’t the only agents who’ve ever been in my room,” she said slowly. “You had food poisoning for two nights and someone else had to check my room because you weren’t there.”

Anakin’s eyes widened. “Who was it? Do you remember?”

“I think…” Then Padmé gasped. “I think it was Barriss.”

Anakin stared at her for another second, and then he jumped to his feet and ran out of the room. Padmé hastened to follow him, and the temporary bodyguards waiting out in the hall chased after them too. At last Anakin skidded to a halt in front of Mace’s office and pounded on the door. “Agent Windu, are you still here? It’s Anakin and the president, we have new information about the investigation!”

To Padmé’s relief, the door opened a moment later to reveal a surprised Mace. He quickly ushered them inside and shut the door behind them. “Do you remember when I got food poisoning in March?” Anakin said without preamble.

Mace narrowed his eyes for a moment as he thought back, but then he nodded. “Yes, I remember that.”

“Well, Barriss checked my rooms both nights that Anakin was sick,” Padmé said. “I was saying I didn’t think Ahsoka could’ve planted the bugs because Anakin and Obi-Wan are the only agents on my team who’ve ever been in my room, but that’s not true. Barriss has been in there too.”

Mace mulled this over for a moment. “Barriss and Obi-Wan have both been in your rooms. What makes you so sure that Barriss is guilty and Obi-Wan is not?”

“Because when you removed the bugs from my room and analyzed them for information, you found that the first footage they recorded was pretty recent,” Padmé said. “If Obi-Wan had wanted to plant the bugs he could’ve done so long before that, he’s in there every time Anakin has his weekend off.”

Mace turned to his computer and started clicking away. “The earliest footage dates back to midnight on March twelfth,” he said a minute later.

Anakin had his phone out and was scrolling through it. “I had food poisoning March tenth and eleventh,” he said finally, holding his phone out to Mace. “I was texting Padmé updates about how I was feeling on those two days. Barriss could’ve planted the bugs the night of March eleventh and set them to start recording at midnight so that she’d be gone by the time they started filming and wouldn’t pick up footage of her planting them.”

“That is a convincing argument,” Mace murmured thoughtfully. “But if Barriss is the culprit, why did Ahsoka call Zam Wesell two hours before the accident?”

“Ahsoka swears she didn’t make that call, and I believe her,” Anakin said. “She and Barriss are good friends, so maybe Barriss needed to call Zam Wesell about something and asked to borrow Ahsoka’s phone so that the call couldn’t be traced back to her.”

Mace made them wait there until someone from the FBI showed up to hear what they had to say, and then they were sent on their way with the promise that their information would be looked into.

A few nights later, Padmé and Anakin were snuggling on the couch watching TV when they heard a knock on the door. Padmé got up to answer it, and her eyes widened. “Ahsoka!”

Anakin was by her side in a flash. “Snips, what are you doing here? Did they—”

“They let me go,” Ahsoka said, beaming at them. “They found new evidence implicating Barriss instead of me, and when I went to talk to Mace just now he said you two were the ones who brought it forward. Thank you so much, I—I owe you everything.”

Padmé reached out and pulled her in for a hug. “I’m so glad,” she said, a little choked up. “Ahsoka, we were so worried about you.”

She stood aside so Anakin could have his turn hugging Ahsoka. “Thank God,” he breathed. “Thank God.”

Padmé ushered her inside and they all sat down on the sofa together. “So, they’re sure it was Barriss?” she asked, heart giving a painful twang. Yes, she was relieved Ahsoka had been pardoned, but…she’d trusted Barriss too.

“They’re not sure, but they’re pretty convinced,” said Ahsoka. “I told them Barriss did ask to borrow my phone the day of the bombing because hers was dead, and luckily Luminara was there at the time too and remembered it, so she backed me up.”

They were all quiet for a minute, and then Anakin said, “I’m just glad you’re back. I was afraid I’d have to burst into the courtroom yelling ‘I object!’”

“That’s for weddings, Ani, not trials,” Padmé said, and Ahsoka laughed.

“Wow, sorry I didn’t go to law school.”

The matter was settled surprisingly quickly after that. Barriss apparently did have enough decency left to feel guilty for what she had done, so she confessed to planting the bugs in Padmé’s room and helping Zam Wesell coordinate the bombing, pled guilty in court, and was sentenced to imprisonment for life. As for Clovis, the blackmail by itself probably would’ve gotten him a pretty short sentence, but the fact that he’d been playing a part in an attempted assassination which had killed three innocent bystanders got him sentenced for life as well.

Padmé didn’t quite know how to wrap her head around the fact that her ex-boyfriend and one of her bodyguards had conspired to assassinate her. Yes, she and Rush had been on pretty terrible terms but the thought that he’d wanted her dead…and she’d trusted Barriss with her life only to be betrayed. “Just don’t think about it,” Anakin advised her, which was much easier said than done. “They’re both scumbags who are in jail where they belong, and they’ll never be able to hurt you again.”

The FBI told Padmé they were still investigating to see if there had been any more people involved but weren’t confident there had been anyone else, since neither Clovis nor Barriss had seemed to know anything about any other conspirators besides themselves and Zam Wesell. It seemed as though Zam Wesell had orchestrated the whole thing with Clovis and Barriss working directly with her and never with each other, hence Clovis had known there was an informant on Padmé’s security team but not who it was. In her darker moments Padmé thought there had to have been someone else because it seemed unlikely a common criminal like Zam Wesell could’ve gotten a senator and a Secret Service agent to work for her all on her own, but honestly, she just didn’t want to think about any of this anymore, so she did her best to put it all out of her mind and let the FBI do their work.

Padmé’s regular security team returned to their duties, and Barriss’s position was filled by a new agent named Depa Billaba whom Padmé liked immensely. Still, Barriss’s betrayal was hitting all of them pretty hard, especially Ahsoka and Luminara, who had been closest to her. But everyone’s genuine shock and dismay over what Barriss had done did help restore Padmé’s shaken trust in her team, and it reassured her that none of them would betray her the way Barriss had.

As the weeks and then months passed, they all started to heal from everything that had happened. Thanks in large part to her sessions with her therapist, Padmé’s nightmares were now few and far between. Anakin, meanwhile, was navigating life post-amputation better than ever. The doctors had said his arm was almost completely healed and he’d be able to start fitting for a prosthesis very soon. Shmi had gone home now that he was doing better—rather reluctantly, but Anakin had insisted he didn’t want to keep her from Cliegg and work any longer than necessary.

But a few weeks after Shmi left, Padmé’s family arrived at the White House so they could be there to celebrate her birthday. They’d wanted to come check up on her sooner after the bombing but Padmé had talked them out of it, worrying that Anakin was already going through enough without the added pressure of meeting his girlfriend’s family for the first time. Well, first-ish, seeing as he’d technically met them a few times before, but they’d been under the impression that he was no more than Padmé’s bodyguard.

She’d told them all about their relationship over Skype a few nights after the bombing, and to her relief they’d been pretty accepting about it—they were a little miffed Padmé had kept it hidden from them for so long but were understanding as to why she’d felt it was safer that way, and Sola had slyly said she’d always thought she’d sensed something going on between Padmé and Anakin anyway.

Now all the Naberries were excited to finally get to meet him after having waited since April; Padmé and Anakin had decided it might be best to wait until Shmi had left before inviting Padmé’s family to visit, thinking it would probably be a good idea to allow Padmé and Shmi and Anakin and the Naberries to get to know each other first before having both sides of the family come together all at once. Padmé was also excited for all the most important people in her life to meet each other properly at last—and a little nervous, though not nearly as nervous as she’d been about meeting Shmi.

Anakin, on the other hand, was in a much different place. “Okay,” he said when Padmé stopped by their room to fetch him once Sola texted her saying they were on the way over from the airport. “So obviously I have to talk about how much I love you, but I can’t go overboard because then I’ll sound like an obsessive weirdo. And do you think this outfit is okay? I don’t want to be overdressed, but on the other hand what if they expect me to look fancy since you’re the president?”

“What are you talking about?” Padmé grabbed his phone out of his hand only to find that he’d been reading an article titled How to Impress Your Girlfriend’s Parents: 12 Steps (With Pictures). She burst out laughing. “Anakin, calm down. Just be yourself. They’re going to love you. And that outfit looks perfect.”

“I’ve never been this nervous in my entire life,” he moaned. “I might actually die, Padmé, and then you’ll have that on your conscience and you’ll feel sorry for laughing at me.”

“I’ll make sure to give a very touching speech at your funeral,” she said, rolling her eyes. “My parents aren’t scary people, I promise. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Plus, they texted me yesterday saying how excited they are to meet you. They want to like you. So let them, okay?”

“But what if they don’t like me?”

“They’d be crazy not to,” Padmé said patiently, leaning in to kiss him on the cheek. “Besides, it won’t be just my parents, Sola and Darred and the girls will be there to help break the ice a little.”

“How is that supposed to make me feel better? I have six family members to meet and you only had one,” Anakin whined. “So not fair.”

“I still have to meet your whole stepfamily, so really it’s four for me and six for you.”

“Well, I don’t have any nieces or nephews,” he said as if that settled the argument in his favor.

“Are you seriously worried about not being able to make a five-year-old and a seven-year-old like you?” Padmé asked, trying to suppress a laugh.

“Hell yeah I am. Kids not liking you is even worse than adults not liking you.”

“Well, if you feel like you’re not getting along with Ryoo and Pooja, just whip out the story of how you almost died while protecting Auntie Padmé and I’m sure they’ll be very impressed with you after that.”

Anakin let out a small chuckle at that, though he still looked like he was going to be sick as Padmé led him downstairs to wait for the Naberries to arrive. They only had to wait a few more minutes before they were walking in the door, and Padmé was immediately caught up in a swarm of hugs and kisses. After assuring her family that yes, she was doing just fine and it had been two months since the bombing and she would really prefer to just put all that behind her, please, she noticed that Anakin was hovering uncertainly in the background and looking rather overwhelmed, and she beckoned him over.

“Everyone, this is Anakin,” she said, squeezing his hand and smiling at him. “Anakin, this is everyone.”

Ruwee stepped forward first and held out his right hand for Anakin to shake. Anakin stared at it for a second before awkwardly extending his own left hand, and Ruwee hastily apologized and switched hands, but nevertheless the smiles they exchanged were sincere. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Anakin,” said Ruwee. “Well, meet you properly, that is. Padmé’s told us so many wonderful things about you.”

“You too, sir,” Anakin said politely.

“Please, call me Ruwee.”

Anakin was then hugged by and instructed to be on a first-name basis with Jobal as well before moving on to greet Sola and Darred. Then Sola turned to her daughters and said, “Girls, this is Auntie Padmé’s boyfriend Anakin. Say hello, please.”

“Hi,” Ryoo and Pooja chorused obediently, looking curiously up at Anakin.

Anakin smiled down at them. “Hi. It’s nice to meet you both.”

And then, to Padmé’s horror, Pooja pointed at Anakin’s right arm. “Where’d the rest of your arm go?” she asked with all the blunt curiosity of a five-year-old.

There was a collective intake of breath and the room went absolutely silent except for Sola hurriedly shushing Pooja and telling her that she was being very rude. “No, it’s okay,” Anakin said, crouching down so he was at Pooja’s eye level. He smiled at her again. “Did your parents tell you I used to be one of your Aunt Padmé’s bodyguards?”

“Uh-huh. I remember you from Auntie Padmé’s birthday last year,” she said. “And from Christmas and Thanksgiving.” Anakin had been on duty for all three occasions and had been around her family, though Ryoo and Pooja were so little that Padmé wasn’t sure they’d remember him after so many months.

“That’s right, I’ve met you before. Anyway, a bad person tried to hurt Padmé, and I lost my arm because I got very hurt while protecting her,” he said, giving Pooja a truthful explanation while also keeping his tone light so as not to frighten her. Padmé’s heart gave a twang as she saw what a natural he was with kids; she’d never really seen him interact with any before.

Pooja’s eyes were the size of saucers. “You saved Auntie Padmé’s life?”

“Sort of,” Anakin said modestly.

“Wow!”

Anakin laughed. “Besides, it’s not all bad,” he said next, holding up his right arm. “I can’t write very well with my left hand, so I get to make Padmé write everything for me instead. It’s great.”

“I can’t write either, but Mommy and Daddy are teaching me,” Pooja informed him. “Maybe they can teach you too! We can learn together.”

All the adults chuckled this time, and Anakin told her that sounded like a great idea before straightening back up again. “I’m really sorry, Anakin,” Sola said. “I told her to be respectful about—”

“It’s fine,” Anakin assured her. “She’s curious, that’s just how kids are.” Padmé was pleasantly surprised by how patient and kind he’d been with Pooja when she’d seen him give death glares to adults just because they looked at his arm for a little too long. She supposed he just had much more toleration for kids who didn’t know any better than fully-grown adults who did.

Anakin and the Naberries got along very well, which Padmé was pleased to see, and they only got more comfortable with each other over the next few days. Padmé opted to have just a small family dinner for her birthday rather than a big party with lots of guests, though between Anakin and the rest of her family she was still showered with quite a lot of gifts.

Two mornings later, she woke up feeling suspiciously well-rested. And she was pretty sure her alarm hadn’t gone off yet either. She rolled over to face Anakin, who was awake and looking a bit too pleased with himself. “What did you do?” Padmé said in an accusatory tone.

“Good morning to you too. How’s your second full day of being thirty-seven going so far?”

She groaned. “Shut up.” Her increasing age was something she’d been doing her best not to think about on her birthday, which meant that Anakin, having the advantage of being four and a half years younger, had been teasing her about it for days. “What did you do?” Padmé asked again. “Why didn’t my alarm go off?”

“I may or may not have cancelled your first couple of meetings today,” Anakin said innocently.

She sat bolt upright and glared at him. “Are you kidding me? What the hell, Anakin?”

“First I checked with Sabé and Bail to make sure they weren’t super important and they both agreed they were skippable,” he said, holding up his hand in self-defense. “You haven’t been getting enough rest, so I thought you deserved to sleep in for a couple hours.”

“Yeah, well, the country deserves for me to do my job,” Padmé muttered, though she had to admit she did feel very refreshed by those couple extra hours and couldn’t quite find it in herself to be annoyed with Anakin.

He took her hand and smiled at her so prettily that what little remained of her irritation immediately evaporated. “And,” he added, “I thought it might be nice for us to have just a little while to ourselves to celebrate our anniversary.”

Padmé smiled back at him, heart swelling. “A year already,” she murmured, nostalgically remembering the night they’d decided to start a relationship after blushing and stuttering their way through admissions of feelings for each other. “In some ways it feels like it’s been way less time than that, but at the same time…so much has changed.”

“Yeah,” Anakin said, glancing down at his arm and making Padmé curse herself for inadvertently reminding him of all he’d lost in the year that had passed. But then he looked up at her again and smiled. “Do you want your present now?”

“Do you have to ask?”

Laughing, Anakin opened the drawer of his bedside table and pulled out a flat wrapped gift, while Padmé took her present for him out of the same hiding place on her side. “You go first,” she said, holding it out to him.

Anakin opened the card first and read the ridiculously sappy message she’d written, which made him beam and lean over to kiss her. Then he moved on to the present itself and worked on tearing the wrapping paper off; for a moment Padmé thought she should’ve put it in a gift bag instead to make it easier for him, but she reminded herself that he liked being challenged to improve his ability to do things one-handed. Indeed, he was soon successful in unwrapping it, and he took the lid off the small, slim box.

Inside was a fancy fountain pen. “It’s not just any pen,” Padmé said before he had a chance to say anything. “It’s a left-handed pen.”

“A left-handed pen?”

“Mm-hmm. Supposedly it’s designed in a way that’ll prevent your hand from smudging the ink as you’re writing. I’ll admit I was a little skeptical but all the left-handed reviewers online said it was the best pen they’ve ever had.”

Anakin laughed, looking delighted. “I wish I’d come up with such a creative gift for you,” he said. “Thank you, Padmé. I love it. I have been getting annoyed by all the smudging with my current pens.”

“You don’t think it’s lame?” she asked hopefully; she’d had a very difficult time trying to think of something to get him that was thoughtful but not too overboard for a first anniversary of dating present, and as their anniversary had drawn closer she’d started second-guessing herself.

“No, I think it’s perfect,” he said, giving her another peck on the lips. Then he hopped out of bed, hurried over to the desk, and pulled out a piece of paper to test it. “It works! No smudging at all!”

Padmé pumped her fist triumphantly, and she laughed when he came back over and handed her the test paper on which he’d written I love you. “I love you too,” she said fondly.

Anakin passed over her gift and she eagerly read the card, which was somehow even more sappy than hers for him, before opening the present. It was wrapped so clumsily that Padmé came to the conclusion he’d gone to the trouble of doing it himself rather than asking someone to wrap it for him, which made her tear up a little bit. The present turned out to be a picture frame with a photo of the two of them which Ahsoka had taken for them on Valentine’s Day. Padmé smiled broadly as she looked at it. “Thank you, Ani. This is so sweet.”

“It’s not as fancy and cool as my pen, but I figured now that we’re not hiding our relationship anymore, maybe you could put that on your desk or something if you wanted,” Anakin said.

Padmé’s smile widened, and she scooched closer to him and rested her head on his shoulder, staring down at the photograph and imagining how it would look displayed proudly on her desk. “That’s a wonderful idea.”

Chapter Text

Now that Padmé and Anakin were pretty fully recovered from the bombing and their relationship had finally settled back into a good, comfortable place, Padmé started becoming more and more conscious of the fact that they still had yet to return to the physical aspect. It was now July and they hadn’t slept together since April, before everything had gone to hell. They’d both been a mess for a while after the bombing and so sex had been out of the question, but by now Padmé felt ready for it. Extremely ready. She was starting to get a lot of pent-up sexual energy, and now she could hardly even look at Anakin without wanting to jump him. It was torture.

And yet, she didn’t want to say anything to him in case he wasn’t ready. She knew he’d been struggling with self-consciousness about his appearance after the loss of his arm; he was doing much better with it now and wore short-sleeved shirts with confidence every day, but sex was an entirely different ballgame. So Padmé didn’t want to mention that she was interested in resuming their sex life because she was afraid Anakin would feel pressured, and the last thing she wanted to do was make him feel like he had to take a step he wasn’t ready for. She resolved to keep quiet until he approached her to discuss it. Hopefully it would be soon, she was getting pretty desperate.

“Hey, you’re done early tonight,” Anakin said one evening. “What do you want to do for the rest of the night?”

Bang your brains out. “Uh, I don’t know, maybe we could watch a movie or something,” Padmé suggested, silently cursing her baser instincts.

For a second she thought she saw his smile slip a little, but then it was back in full force and she figured she must have imagined it. “That sounds great.”

And so they popped in a movie and cuddled in bed, and Padmé prepared herself for a quiet, low-key night. That is, until a rather steamy scene came on in the movie they were watching. She immediately stiffened and edged away from Anakin a teeny bit; his close proximity and the scene in the movie was a lethal combination, and she feared her intense sexual frustration wouldn’t be able to bear it.

But then, suddenly, the TV turned off. Padmé looked over and saw Anakin holding the remote and frowning at her. “What’d you do that for?” she asked, confused.

He put the remote down on the bedside table and looked back over at her, and now there was hurt on his face. “Padmé, do you…?” He cleared his throat, then said quietly, “Are you not attracted to me anymore?”

Padmé gaped at him. “What? Why on earth would you think that?”

“Well, you got all awkward and moved away from me the second they started going at it in the movie,” Anakin pointed out. “And it’s been ages since we last had sex, but you haven’t said a word about it. So I just thought, maybe you’re not into me anymore after this—” He gestured at his right arm with his left hand “—I mean, I couldn’t blame you if you weren’t—”

“Anakin, nothing could be further from the truth,” Padmé said, baffled that he could’ve even thought such a thing. “I’ve been dying to have sex with you for weeks, but I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to push you if you weren’t ready. I figured it would be better for me to wait until you brought it up first. Trust me, I’m still as crazy attracted to you as I ever was. Like, it’s scary how attracted to you I am.”

Anakin blinked at her in surprise. “Oh.” Then he started to smile. “So…if you want to have sex with me right now…and I want to have sex with you right now…”

“What are we waiting for?” Padmé finished, and she practically lunged towards him for a kiss.

Anakin responded enthusiastically, shoving his tongue inside her mouth and moving into a sitting position and pulling her into his lap. Padmé started grinding down on him and forced herself to break the kiss a few minutes later so she could yank his shirt off over his head. Anakin began unbuttoning her shirt, his pace agonizingly slow. Padmé was dying to knock his hand out of the way and get the shirt off herself, but she knew that would undermine his confidence in a big way and so she waited patiently for him to finish, leaning in to plant sloppy open-mouthed kisses up and down his neck and chest in the meantime.

At last her shirt was fully unbuttoned and lying in a heap on the ground, her bra following it a minute later. Padmé stood up and hastily rid herself of her skirt and panties while Anakin fumbled with his belt. He eventually managed to strip the rest of his clothes off, and then they stood there fully naked and drinking in the sight of each other.

But only for a moment, because Padmé pushed him to sit back down on the bed and knelt on the floor in front of him and pushed his legs apart. Anakin moaned loudly when she wrapped her hands around him, reacquainting herself with the feel of him after several months. Then she leaned in and took him in her mouth, and Anakin flopped backwards on the bed and tangled his hand in her hair, panting raggedly.

Padmé worked him quickly and expertly. There was a time for slow and sensual lovemaking, but this was not it; it had been far too long and they were both far too desperate. She knew exactly what he liked best, and it was only minutes before Anakin was giving her a gasped warning and spilling down her throat. Padmé swallowed and gently released him from her mouth, sitting back on her heels and wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

“But I wanted to fuck you,” Anakin mumbled from the bed.

Padmé stood up to find him lying there with his eyes closed and a blissful expression on his face. She climbed on top of him and kissed him deeply. “Well, I wanted to make you feel good first,” she said, running her hands up and down his sweaty torso.

“Mmm. Good news is I’ll be ready to go again in, like, two seconds. I’ve been wanting you so bad this whole time, I’ll probably be able to go for about ten rounds tonight.”

Padmé laughed. “That sounds incredible, but I have to be up early tomorrow so I do have to get to sleep at some point instead of spending the whole night fucking you.”

“No, I like my plan better. You can just cancel all your morning meetings.”

Grinning, she kissed him again and started rubbing herself against him; getting him off had aroused her to a near painful degree. “What position would be most comfortable for you?” she asked.

Anakin considered it for a moment, slipping his hand down between them as he did so and lightly rubbing her clit, making her mewl in pleasure. “It would probably be best for me to be flat on my back with you on top,” he decided. “I might have a hard time balancing in most other positions with just the one hand.”

“Sounds good to me.” Padmé rolled off him so they could both climb onto the bed more fully, and then Anakin pushed her onto her back. “I thought I was going to be on top?”

“Yes, in a minute, but I was planning to go down on you first if that’s acceptable,” he replied, smirking at her.

Padmé grinned back. “Oh, that’s very acceptable.”

Anakin flopped down onto his stomach between her legs, and Padmé saw stars when his mouth made contact. She started moaning without restraint; she didn’t particularly relish the thought of the agents outside hearing, but at least now it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they did since they knew they were together. Not to mention that she was way too far gone to bother about being quiet.

Padmé was so worked up that Anakin managed to finish her off almost as quickly as she’d done to him. He crawled up to lie down beside her as she caught her breath, then leaned in for a lazy kiss. He was already half-hard again, and Padmé reached down to stroke him as they kissed until he was fully hard once more. She reached over to the bedside table, pulled a condom out of the drawer, and tossed it to him.

Once he’d rolled it on, Padmé wasted no time in straddling him and sinking down, making both of them gasp. Anakin’s hand flew to her hip, and she covered it with her own and used her other hand to push herself up again and then back down. She raised and lowered herself again, and again, and again, and soon she was rapidly bouncing up and down on him and rolling her hips. Anakin was emitting a near-constant stream of moans and expletives and Padmé was panting heavily, entire body on fire.

She gazed down at Anakin, struck by how beautiful he was with his face flushed and his eyes squeezed shut and his sweaty hair plastered to his forehead. “Love you, Ani,” she gasped.

He opened his eyes and looked adoringly back up at her. “Love you too—fuck!” A second later he was coming, hips jerking up into her and back arching off the bed. The sudden movement forced him further in, hitting a spot deep inside her, and then Padmé was crying out too as she found her own release.

When it was over, Padmé spent a minute catching her breath before shakily climbing off him and collapsing on the bed beside him. Anakin sat up and disposed of the condom, then flopped back down again, and Padmé curled into his side and placed featherlight kisses on his chest. “That was incredible,” she murmured.

Anakin hummed in agreement, and they fell into comfortable silence for a while. Then he said, “Wait, so how long were you wanting to have sex with me but not saying anything about it?”

Padmé scrunched up her face, trying to remember. Most of April had been taken up by the blackmail and the explosion, and she’d been feeling too awful in May to even think about sex…but then in June she’d started getting interested. “I don’t know, probably about a month,” she said.

“Oh man, really? Because I’ve been thinking about it for about a month too but not saying anything because I was worried you wouldn’t want to,” Anakin said. “So you’re saying we just wasted a whole month not having sex?”

“Huh. Guess so.”

“All right, well, we’ll have to have twice as much sex throughout the next month to make up for it.”

Padmé laughed. “That sounds like an amazing idea.”

They were quiet once more, but eventually Anakin said, “Padmé?”

“Mmm?”

“I think…I think we should tell the public about us soon.”

She studied him carefully. “Are you sure?” she asked. “This will change your entire life. You won’t be able to go anywhere without getting recognized and photographed, everyone will know your name. You’ll never be able to have a normal life again.”

“My life hasn’t been normal since the moment I met you,” Anakin said, giving her a soft smile. “Believe me, I’ve thought over everything that’s going to happen a million times, and I don’t care. I’m ready to tell the whole world that I love you.”

Padmé smiled back, heart swelling at the prospect of finally, finally being fully open about their relationship. “All right, then. I’m ready too. Let’s do it.”


They ended up waiting to announce their relationship to the public until Anakin got his prosthesis. “If I’m going to have a million pictures taken of me and put in the newspaper, I want to be able to show off my cool new arm,” he joked to Padmé, but really it was more to do with the fact that he still couldn’t quite shake off the last bit of self-consciousness about how he looked without his arm, and having the prosthesis would make him feel a little more comfortable with having his picture all over the internet. Though even so, he didn’t relish the idea of the entire country suddenly knowing who he was. He’d accepted that this was the way things had to be if he wanted to have a real relationship with Padmé, but that didn’t mean he was looking forward to becoming a celebrity overnight.

Anakin ultimately decided that he cared more about functionality than appearance, so he ended up selecting a robotic-looking prosthetic arm that used cutting-edge technology to give the wearer as much mobility as possible. It still wasn’t as functional as a real hand but it came remarkably close, and Anakin had gotten so used to doing everything with only one hand over the past several months that accomplishing tasks became a million times easier again now that he had two hands once more, even if one of them was somewhat limited in what it could do. His insurance covered a small part of the cost but even so it was extraordinarily pricy; Padmé was fortunate enough that she could afford to pay for the remainder without even blinking an eye, but she made a mental note to push “fix healthcare system” even further up on her to-do-while-in-office list. Not everyone who needed a prosthetic limb was lucky enough to be dating the president of the United States.

It took a couple weeks after the fitting before Anakin actually got the prosthesis and several more before he’d gotten used to it, but at last in the beginning of September, he told Padmé he was ready to reveal their relationship once and for all. They prepared a statement for the White House press secretary to release; usually the press secretary would prepare it herself, but Padmé and Anakin wanted to have absolute control over the narrative surrounding their relationship. Padmé wrote most of it since her politician’s training made her adept at phrasing things in a way that would make their relationship sound as above-board as possible (“discreet” instead of “secret,” “maintaining privacy” and “staying out of the spotlight” rather than “lying to everyone to keep Anakin from getting fired”) though she did consult Anakin to make sure he agreed with everything she said.

The announcement was made the day after that, and to say it caused a stir would be an understatement. None of the people Padmé saw in person had the nerve to make any mention of it, but gossip and speculation was running wild all over the internet, in the tabloids, and even in the more serious news outlets. Padmé read her fair share of truly offensive internet comments about it, but that was more than made up for by the joy of getting to hold Anakin’s hand and kiss him in public; they even went on a date to a nice restaurant in the DC area, their first real date after being together for over year. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted, and she couldn’t remember the last time she’d been so happy, offensive internet comments and all.

In the meantime, Anakin had officially resigned from the Secret Service. Obi-Wan permanently replaced him as the head of Padmé’s team, and Adi Gallia replaced Obi-Wan as Ahsoka’s partner. Mace then assigned Anakin his own security team, headed by Rex. Anakin did have a bit of trouble adjusting to the sudden role reversal—he kept trying to join in conversations about Padmé’s security only to be gently rebuffed by Obi-Wan and the others—but he couldn’t deny that he felt much happier as the president’s boyfriend than he had as her bodyguard. It no longer felt like he was living a lie.

So just who is Anakin Skywalker? Right away, his physical appearance is striking—he is remarkably handsome, and the prosthetic arm and scar on his face don’t help him blend in either—but we’ve all seen pictures of him by now. What we really want to know is what he’s like. Is he serious, intellectual, well-spoken, the kind of partner we’d expect the president to have? Or is he a strong and silent former Secret Service agent? It quickly becomes apparent that neither could be further from the truth. Mr. Skywalker has a boyish energy and exuberance, and his relative lack of eloquence (though to be fair, anyone would seem ineloquent next to President Amidala) is more than made up for by his natural charm. He is unusually blunt and clearly no politician, and his lively attitude contrasts starkly with the president’s demure professionalism. But when Mr. Skywalker leans over to whisper something to her and a giggle cracks her polished façade, one can’t help but think that they are well-matched despite—or perhaps because of—their differences.

“This is absolutely ridiculous,” Anakin announced, tossing the magazine aside before reading any further.

Padmé came bustling out of the bathroom, fastening a necklace as she walked. “Oh, that article?” she said, grinning when she saw the magazine beside him. “I don’t know, it was pretty spot-on about you being remarkably handsome.”

“We should never have agreed to that interview,” he grumbled. “They’re trying to turn our lives into some kind of soap opera.” Shortly after breaking the news of their relationship, they’d agreed—Anakin extremely reluctantly, Padmé only a little less so—to a tell-all interview with a reporter they trusted. The entire article was quite complimentary, just rather more melodramatic than Anakin would’ve liked.

“You’re a public figure now, Anakin,” Padmé reminded him. “The people wanted to know more about our relationship, and they especially wanted to get to know you. I know these things are annoying, I had to do so many of them while I was running for president, but they help in the long run. You’ll seem more likable now that this article has allowed people to get a sense for who you are as a person.”

“Maybe I don’t want to be likable,” Anakin said rather sulkily, and she just rolled her eyes and told him to start getting dressed for dinner. It was his first formal function that he’d be attending as a guest instead of as security, and as he got ready he wished he could don his microphone and earpiece once more and spend the night lurking in the corner.

“Are you sure I can’t fake sick?” he asked Padmé for the millionth time as he fumbled with his tie.

“Yes, I’m sure,” she said firmly. “I hate these things too, especially since Palpatine and Dooku are going to be there, but we’re both obligated to go. You’ll have to start getting used to being my arm candy now that everyone knows we’re dating, I’m afraid.”

“Palpatine and Dooku are going to be there?” Anakin said, too dismayed about that to laugh at her joke. “You didn’t tell me that.”

“Because I knew you’d react badly and try even harder to find a way out of it.” Padmé came over and straightened his tie, then placed a soft kiss on his cheek. “It’ll be fine, I promise. Just be yourself. You won’t have to say much, just small talk. I’m sure no one will expect you to participate in political talk, they all know you don’t have any training in politics.”

“They’re going to ask me my opinion on some issue and I’m going to say the wrong thing and make a fool of myself and they’re all going to laugh at me,” Anakin said.

“That’s not going to happen,” she insisted. “I’ll be sitting right next to you the whole time, and I’ll jump in and help you out if you’re out of your depth. Deal?”

Anakin sighed. “Fine.”

Once they were both ready, they headed downstairs to the state dining room. The guests stood as they entered; they were all various Congressmembers. Anakin wasn’t entirely sure what the purpose of this dinner was, but he remembered Padmé saying something about “playing nice” and wanting to talk about certain political issues in a more casual environment. Not that a fancy dinner was especially casual, in Anakin’s opinion, but what did he know.

“I’m so glad you all could make it tonight,” Padmé said as they took their seats. “I’d like to introduce you to my boyfriend, Anakin Skywalker, whom a few of you have met before.”

Indeed, Anakin did recognize a few faces around the table—Riyo Chuchi and Mon Mothma, for example—but the rest were relatively unknown to him. Except for the one directly opposite him: Senator Palpatine. Padmé was at the head of the table with Anakin and Palpatine on either side of her; he presumed she must’ve arranged to have Anakin close to her for his own comfort, and Palpatine because she especially wanted to debate some issue with him.

Palpatine smiled at Anakin, though it didn’t reach his eyes. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Skywalker.”

“You too, Senator,” Anakin lied. “And Anakin’s fine.” People had been trying to call him “Mr. Skywalker” and “sir” ever since they’d found out he was dating the president, and it made him uncomfortable. He didn’t like being treated as if he was above everyone else.

To Anakin’s relief, after a brief round of small talk the other guests more or less ignored him. He was doing his best to keep up with the conversation but it all sounded like Greek to him. Why hadn’t he ever taken any political science courses in college? He settled for quietly eating his food and watching Padmé talk; she really was beautiful like this, absolutely in her element as she spiritedly debated politics and shone with passion all the while.

“What do you think, Mr. Skywalker?”

Horrified, Anakin focused his attention on Palpatine, who was looking at him expectantly. “I-I’m sorry? I missed your question, Senator.”

“I asked what you think about the current debate about healthcare,” Palpatine said. “Surely you must have an opinion, especially given your recent experiences.”

He gave a pointed glance at Anakin’s prosthetic arm, and Anakin flushed, feeling an ugly mix of embarrassment and anger; even now, he hated having attention drawn to his arm. “Well…I think…” He swallowed and glanced nervously at Padmé, who gave him an encouraging smile. Just be yourself. “I think it’s stupid,” he said bluntly. “Healthcare should be a fundamental human right, not something that only rich people can afford. I don’t see why it’s even up for debate. How could making it free for everyone possibly be a problem?”

Palpatine, Dooku, and several of the others laughed, and Anakin felt his face turn even redder, feeling utterly humiliated. He shouldn’t have opened his stupid mouth, he didn’t know anything about politics, he was such an idiot. “An admirable sentiment, but I’m afraid it’s just not that simple,” Palpatine said. “Though of course it’s only natural that you don’t have as comprehensive an understanding of this issue as those of us who have spent decades informing ourselves about it.”

“But he is very right to say that healthcare is a fundamental human right,” Padmé said, quickly coming to his aid. “In fact, everything Anakin said is more or less what I’ve been saying for years. Certainly there are many secondary factors to be considered, but at the end of the day, healthcare should be affordable for everyone and none of the secondary factors matter as much as that.”

All the guests who hadn’t laughed at Anakin nodded and murmured in agreement with Padmé, and Anakin relaxed a little bit. Padmé reached out to squeeze his hand under the table before changing the subject and drawing everyone’s attention away from him once more.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Padmé said once they’d reached the privacy of their bedroom later that night.

“Wasn’t so bad? It was awful,” Anakin said, staring at her.

“Okay, I know Palpatine and his clique were horrible to you, but that’s just how they are. Everyone else loved you, Ani, you made a really great impression. When you were in the bathroom for a few minutes—” More than a few; Anakin had tried to escape the dinner for as long as he possibly could “—they were all saying how funny and likable you are. A breath of fresh air in the political world, Mon said,” Padmé told him.

Anakin shook his head. “I had no idea what the fuck anyone was talking about ninety-nine percent of the time, and every time I opened my mouth I sounded like such an idiot.” He sighed in frustration and flopped down onto the sofa. “I just…I don’t belong in that world, Padmé. Everyone in there has, like, twelve degrees and went to Ivy League schools and reads Shakespeare in their free time—”

“Hey, listen to me,” Padmé cut him off, sitting down beside him and taking his hands; she always treated the prosthetic hand as if it was real, which warmed Anakin’s heart even though he couldn’t physically feel her touch. “I don’t care that you’re not an overeducated, pretentious asshole. I’m glad you’re not. I know this environment is hard to handle—I mean, I still feel like I’m faking it a lot of the time, to be honest. You don’t have to fit in or make every single politician like you. You just have to show them you’re not intimidated by them. Because that’s what the political world does, it scares you into conforming and tries to beat you into submission until you’ve lost everything that makes you you, it chews you up and spits you back out again without a thought. They tried to do that to me when I first became senator, especially Palpatine. They tried to cow me into being quiet and timid and just going along with whatever the majority said, but I didn’t let them. I stood my ground and refused to let them change me, I continued to voice my opinions and fight for the causes I believed in no matter what anyone else thought. Don’t let them change you, Ani. Don’t let them make you be ashamed of who you are or where you came from.”

“How do you do it?” Anakin asked. “Act so calm all the time even when people are making you mad, and talk so smoothly and never put your foot in your mouth?”

“I’ve had years and years of practice,” Padmé said with a wan smile. “You’ll get better at it over time. Or even if you don’t, I don’t care. Your honesty and genuineness have always been some of the things I love most about you. You don’t lie or pretend in order to appease other people. The political world could use more people like you.”

Finally, Anakin started to smile a little too. “I remember you said that when we first got together. At the time I didn’t understand why you’d value that so much, but after just one night of two-faced politicians, I can see what you mean. I can’t even imagine what it must’ve been like to live in this world for so many years, never knowing if someone’s telling you the truth or just trying to suck up to you.”

“That’s why I fell in love with you. Because whenever you flatter me, I know you really mean it and you’re not just trying to get on my good side. Except when you’ve done something I’m going to be mad about and you preface it with ‘Padmé, you’re amazing and beautiful and perfect and I love you so much, but here’s the thing.’”

Anakin laughed and rested his head on her shoulder, closing his eyes in contentment when she started playing with his hair. “Maybe that article was right about something after all,” he said after a few minutes. “Maybe it really is because of our differences that we’re so compatible, not despite them.”

“Oh, for sure,” Padmé said, planting a kiss in his hair. “We keep each other sane. I calm you down, and you get me to lighten up.”

Anakin hummed in agreement and wrapped his arms around her, and they stayed there snuggling on the couch for a long time, too comfortable to bother getting up to go change out of their dinner clothes.

“Ani?”

“Yeah?”

“You’re my best friend.”

“You’re my best friend too.”

Chapter Text

5 Months Later

“Padmé?” Anakin murmured in her ear one night in February as they were snuggling in bed. “Can I ask you something?”

“Mm-hmm.”

There was a long pause, and then he said carefully, “What are your thoughts on marriage?”

Padmé’s heart stopped, and then her eyes were snapping open and she was sitting bolt upright and twisting around to glare down at him. “Anakin Skywalker, if you’re proposing to me five minutes after sex while we’re both naked, I swear to God—”

“I’m not proposing, did you hear a ‘will you marry me’ anywhere in there?” Anakin interrupted with a laugh. He sat up too and took her hand, expression turning serious again. “I just wanted to discuss the idea with you and see what you thought. So…what do you think?”

“What do you think? You’re the one bringing it up now, so you must’ve been thinking about it for a while,” Padmé countered. Her heart was racing and she knew in her gut what her answer was, but she wanted to hear what Anakin thought first. And she needed some time to gather her thoughts before speaking, given that he’d just sprung the conversation on her like this.

“Well…” Anakin started rubbing his left thumb across the back of her hand, looking nervous. He took a deep breath. “I love you more than anything, Padmé. I’m so sure that you’re the one I want to spend the rest of my life with, and…I-I want to marry you,” he confessed, his expression utterly open and vulnerable. “And if we were two normal people and this was a normal relationship, I would be proposing to you right now. Well, maybe not right now, but you know what I mean. Anyway, the thing is, I figured what with your every move being under constant scrutiny from the entire country and our relationship always being in the spotlight and being such a popular topic of public gossip—well, I figured getting married wouldn’t be as straightforward for us as it would be for most couples. I know you have a lot more things to take into account than the average person when it comes to marriage, so that’s why I wanted to sit down and have an honest conversation together instead of proposing to you without any warning and putting you on the spot.”

Padmé felt a lump form in her throat. He was always so considerate, so thoughtful and understanding. So good to her. “Thank you, Ani, I really appreciate that,” she said, giving him a small smile which he returned. Then she was quiet for a while as she mulled everything over. They’d been together for a year and eight months, which maybe wasn’t that long; hell, she’d dated Clovis for three years without marriage being on table. And yet, after one year and eight months with Anakin, Padmé already felt so much more certain of their relationship than she had after almost twice as long with Clovis.

Whenever she imagined her future, Anakin was always there by her side. She couldn’t even fathom the thought of their relationship coming to an end. And she had always dreamed of finding the right partner and getting married. Her younger self had naively thought it would be Palo, but they just weren’t compatible enough to last for a long time. Her more mature self had never really thought it would be Clovis; she’d dated him more for a life experience than because she thought they were soulmates. But now with Anakin, Padmé felt in her bones that he was it. He was the right partner, the one she wanted to be with forever. She’d all but given up hope of longterm relationships and marriage when she’d decided to throw her hat in for the presidential race, but fate had ended up surprising her by bringing Anakin into her life. She loved him more than she’d ever thought it was possible to love someone. Before, Padmé had sometimes wondered how married couples didn’t get bored of each other after decades and decades together, but now? Now, the idea of spending the rest of her life with Anakin, of never being with anyone else but him as long as she lived…that would be a privilege, not a bore.

He was right, their marriage would cause a media circus. Then again, their relationship had been causing media circuses from the moment they’d announced it to the public. What was one more? Besides, when push came to shove Padmé just didn’t care. She didn’t care how anyone else would feel about their marriage, only how she and Anakin felt. She knew how Anakin felt.

And Padmé knew how she felt too.

“I want to marry you too,” she said, smiling even wider and feeling a few tears well up in her eyes and spill over onto her cheeks. “I don’t care what anyone else will say. I love you, Anakin, and I want to be with you forever, and nothing else matters.”

Anakin’s breath caught and he looked at her in amazement for a moment, but then he was beaming too and leaning in and kissing her square on the lips. “You’re sure?” he said breathlessly after he drew away again. “People will talk—”

“I know, and I told you, I don’t care,” Padmé said, feeling giddy. “Actually, if anything this will put a stop to the gossip. Maybe after we’ve been married for a while people will start to lose interest. Married couples are boring gossip topics.”

Anakin laughed. “Good point.” Then he made a face. “Hey, will this mean I’ll officially become First Gentleman and have to spend all my time, like, planning parties and stuff? Because I’ve been doing an okay job of avoiding that so far since I’m only your boyfriend.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll be a great trophy husband,” Padmé said cheerfully, giggling when he rolled his eyes. “Seriously, there’s a lot more to it than that. You can do a lot of work on social reform projects, pick something you’re really passionate about. You’ve always wanted to be able to make a difference in the lives of people in need, right? This is your chance.”

Anakin’s eyes lit up. “That’s true. Maybe I can do something to help kids from low-income families…or maybe something to improve schools in poorer areas? Or I could work on some kind of anti-bullying program? Or a scholarship fund for poor kids to go to college?”

“Those all sound like amazing ideas,” Padmé said, thrilled to see him already taking so much initiative. “See? Being First Gentleman won’t be so bad.”

“Maybe not. Plus, it’ll mean I’m married to the most incredible woman in the entire world,” Anakin said fondly. “I’d put up with anything to have that.”

Padmé smiled broadly and kissed him again. “You’re still going to propose properly, though, right?” she said when they broke apart. “You’d better.”

“Oh, I will. Down on one knee and everything,” he assured her. “I’ll wait until you’re not expecting it for maximum effect.”

“But now I’m always going to be expecting it.”

“No, I’m going to manage to catch you off guard. Even if I have to wait ten years for it.”

“If you wait ten years to propose to me I will kill you.”

And so the waiting game began. Padmé was constantly on edge, half-expecting Anakin to burst out of the shower while she was brushing her teeth or barge into the middle of a very important meeting and get down on one knee (fortunately, neither happened). She knew he wouldn’t propose on Valentine’s Day if he was trying to catch her off guard, but then she started wondering if he’d think she’d think it was cliché and therefore wouldn’t be expecting it, so she spent the entire day on high alert regardless (no proposal occurred, though Anakin did laugh himself sick at her extreme paranoia all day).

Afterwards, Padmé would be astonished that he did manage to surprise her in the end. It was two o’clock on a Thursday afternoon, she’d skipped lunch and could hardly focus on anything but her growling stomach, she’d been in meetings or on the phone nonstop all day, she was currently slogging through a headache-inducing stack of paperwork, and all things considered it was one of those days that felt like an entire week crammed into one. And it was only halfway over.

A light on Padmé’s phone started flashing, and she pressed a button to talk. “Yes?”

“Vice President Organa is here to see you, ma’am,” said Sabé.

“Could you ask him if he’d mind coming back another time? I’m totally swamped right now.”

Slight pause. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but he says it’s urgent.”

Padmé sighed. “Fine, send him in.”

A moment later, Bail poked his head in the door. “I’m so sorry to bother you, Padmé, but we’re having an emergency cabinet meeting in the East Room and we need you there right away.”

Padmé narrowed her eyes, remembering when she’d spun a similar story for him. “Are you trying to get me to a surprise party? Because my birthday’s not for four more months.”

Bail chuckled. “No, there really is a meeting, I promise.”

“Then why is it in the East Room?”

He shrugged. “There’s already lots of tables and chairs set up for the event tonight, and Satine said she felt like a change of scenery and made us meet there instead and the rest of us were too scared to argue.”

“That does sound like Satine,” Padmé conceded after a second, so she obligingly got up and followed Bail out of the room, only mildly suspicious. He held the door for her upon their arrival, and Padmé walked in and stifled a shriek.

The room was practically bursting with flowers, the furniture for that evening’s event barely even visible through the impromptu greenhouse. And standing in the middle of it all was Anakin, grinning at her and looking extremely pleased with himself. “Told you I’d get you when you weren’t expecting it,” he said triumphantly.

Padmé burst out laughing and hurried over to him, feeling tears spring to her eyes. “Oh my God, Ani, I can’t believe you!”

He laughed too and got down on one knee, bringing his prosthetic arm out from behind his back as he did so. There was a small box clutched in his hand, and he opened it with his left hand to reveal a diamond ring. Then he reached out with his left hand and took her own, beaming up at her with tears shining in his eyes as well.

“Padmé Amidala Naberrie,” he began, and Padmé started crying in earnest as she remembered the day, so long ago, when they’d discussed her real name and then shared their first kiss. “The stars had to do some pretty crazy aligning for us to end up meeting each other, but I have spent every single second of the past two years being beyond grateful that they did. I decided to propose to you in this room because this is where we danced together for the first time and that was the moment I truly became aware of my feelings for you, but honestly, I think I fell in love with you a little bit the moment I met you. And I’ve only been falling more and more every day since then. We’ve already been through lots of ups and downs together, and I want you to be by my side for all the ups and downs for the rest of my life. You make the bad times easier to handle and the good times even better. I love you so, so much, Padmé. Will you marry me?”

“Yes!” Padmé said practically before he’d finished speaking. “Yes, Ani, I love you, I love you!”

Anakin slid the ring on her finger and stood back up, his smile brighter than the stars. Padmé threw her arms around him and kissed him deeply, and it took several moments before she realized there were people applauding. She drew back and looked around to see that they had a small audience: Bail, of course, as well as the majority of both her and Anakin’s security teams. She blushed and hid her face in Anakin’s shirt, though she was still grinning. “You didn’t tell me you were going to invite so many people to come watch.”

Anakin’s chest rumbled with his answering laugh. “Well, I knew you were going to say yes so it seemed safe,” he reasoned. “Plus, as soon as I told them all I was going to propose and asked for help getting you here, they begged me to let them stay and watch.”

“And now you have photos and videos preserving the occasion forever, thanks to us,” Ahsoka added.

“I’m not sure I want them, I probably look like a mess,” Padmé said, lifting her head again and looking up at Anakin.

He smiled and reached out to wipe a tear from her cheek. “You have never looked more beautiful,” he said softly, and then he was kissing her again.

The moment was ruined by Padmé’s stomach growling loudly. “Sorry,” she said sheepishly as Anakin snickered.

“Did you skip lunch again today? I keep telling you not to do that.”

“I was too busy!”

“You should never be too busy for food,” Anakin scolded her. “Come on, let’s go eat something, and you can cancel whatever’s next on your schedule and tell them you’re…otherwise engaged.”

Padmé groaned. “We’ve been engaged for two minutes and you’re already making terrible puns. What have I gotten myself into?”

“Welcome to the rest of your life,” Anakin said, grinning.

She laughed and they headed towards the door, hand in hand. “How’d you get all these flowers?” she asked.

“Eirtaé helped me out. She said a preemptive congratulations, by the way.”

“So your ex helps you propose to your girlfriend and mine tries to assassinate me? Clearly one of us has better taste.”

“Hmm, clearly.” Anakin paused as he registered the insult. “Hey, wait a second!”

“I’m just kidding,” Padmé said, laughing. “I obviously have excellent taste since I picked you.”

“Very true,” Anakin said smugly. “And I have excellent taste since I picked you.”

Padmé did end up cancelling a non-essential phonecall she was supposed to make that afternoon in favor of having a leisurely lunch with Anakin and calling their families to share the news. “So, wedding plans,” Padmé said after they’d been heartily congratulated over the phone by the overjoyed Naberries followed by the overjoyed Skywalker-Larses. “What do you think?”

“Whatever you want to do. You’re the bride.”

“That is an extremely outdated and sexist viewpoint, Anakin,” she said sternly. “It’s just as much your day as it is mine.”

“As long as we’re legally married by the end of the day, I’m good with anything else that happens,” Anakin replied, and she laughed. “Also, I’d prefer to interact with as few politicians as possible.”

“Oh, definitely,” Padmé said, nodding. “I know everyone will expect us to make it a big thing, but…I don’t know, I think something more low-key would be nice, with just us and family and a few close friends. We could even get married here at the White House if we really wanted to keep things private and avoid paparazzi.”

Anakin smiled. “That sounds perfect. I don’t want a big fuss either. This is a personal event, not a political one.”

“My thoughts exactly. I want to celebrate our love surrounded by people we care about, not just a bunch of politicians I had to invite for show.”

Anakin nodded in agreement. Then Padmé leaned over to try and kiss him, but he held up his hand to stop her. “Nope. None of that until you finish eating that sandwich,” he said firmly. “I don’t want you to pass out from hunger while we’re in the middle of making out, that would suck for both of us.”

Padmé sighed loudly, picked the sandwich back up, and took a bite. “There. Happy?” she asked through a mouthful of sandwich, doing her best to chew obnoxiously.

“Very happy. And even happier that I’m the only one who gets the privilege of seeing the oh-so-poised President Amidala chew with her mouth open. If only the papers could see what you’re like behind closed doors.”

Padmé swallowed and stuck her tongue out at him.

That evening, Padmé and Anakin donned formal attire and returned to the East Room for the gala to garner support for Padmé’s proposed increased spending on welfare for the upcoming fiscal year. She’d unfortunately had to invite the Senate Finance Committee since they were the people she most needed to sway, but she’d also invited several other Congressmembers with whom she got along better in hopes of easing the discomfort (and having more people to debate the issue from her side). After all, they would be the ones voting on the Finance Committee’s revised budget in a few months.

“People will probably notice the ring,” she mused to Anakin on the way over, holding her hand out to admire the ring herself. It was beautiful, a plain silver band with a small diamond set into it; Padmé predicted the tabloids would tut disapprovingly about how it wasn’t nearly elaborate or expensive enough for the president of the United States, but she thought it was absolutely perfect. Classy and elegant without being ostentatious or a blatant flaunting of wealth. “Should we just announce our engagement at the beginning to avoid all the questions?”

“Won’t that draw attention away from the stuff you wanted to talk about?” he asked.

“Yes, but hopefully only briefly. I think getting it out of the way right off the bat would be better than people continually coming up to me all night and asking about the ring.”

Anakin conceded the point, and once they’d arrived and Padmé had finished making her speech to welcome the guests, she beckoned him forward. “Now, on an irrelevant and more lighthearted note, Anakin and I are very excited to announce our recent engagement,” she said, unable to hide a smile while the guests gasped and applauded. “I don’t want to detract focus from the budget, of course, but I thought it would be more efficient to say something to everyone right now instead of having you all come up to me individually to ask if I’m wearing an engagement ring.”

Laughter rang through the room at that, and Anakin slid his arm around her waist and kissed her on the cheek as the guests began making congratulatory exclamations.

To Padmé’s relief, while nearly everyone she spoke to opened with some form of congratulations, they all quickly moved on to talk about actual politics, which was, after all, the entire purpose of the gala. Anakin glued himself to her side all evening and didn’t say much—even after several months he was still a fish out of water at these sorts of events.

“Congratulations on your engagement, Madam President.”

Padmé turned and plastered on a smile as she came face-to-face with Palpatine. “Thank you, Senator Palpatine,” she said politely. She felt Anakin tense up beside her, and she moved imperceptibly closer to him and took his hand.

Then Palpatine turned to Anakin. “And congratulations to you too, Mr. Skywalker. I look forward to seeing much more of you over the next few years.” He still refused to address Anakin by his first name even though Anakin had asked him to more than once; Padmé suspected it was a deliberate attempt to make Anakin uncomfortable.

“Thank you, Senator. I do too,” Anakin replied, lying through his teeth.

“It will certainly be a change to have the office of First Gentleman filled by someone who is so…untested in the ways of politics,” Palpatine said.

Anakin flushed, and Padmé did her best to hide a scowl as she said calmly, “A refreshing change, I think. We politicians have gotten far too caught up in party squabbles instead of focusing on serving the people. Anakin’s non-political perspective is exactly what the White House needs.”

“Oh, quite,” said Palpatine, though the accompanying smile didn’t reach his eyes.

Padmé spent fifteen painful minutes discussing the budget with him (unsurprisingly, he was decidedly against increased spending on welfare) before Anakin tugged her away for a dance. “Ani, I was nowhere near done convincing him,” Padmé protested once they were out of earshot.

“We both know there’s a better chance of me getting elected president than there is of you convincing Palpatine to do something that would help poor people,” Anakin replied.

Padmé gave a snort of laughter. “That’s probably true. I’d vote for you, for the record.”

“Aww, thanks.”

A slow song came on after a while, and Padmé contentedly rested her head against his chest and smiled as he wrapped his arms more tightly around her. “It’s so nice to be able to dance with you as my boyfriend instead of trying to pretend you’re just my bodyguard who I totally don’t have feelings for,” she said.

Anakin pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “I think you mean your fiancé,” he murmured into her hair.

A thrill went through Padmé at hearing the words out loud, and she looked up at him with a smile. “You’re right. I’m going to have to get used to calling you that.”

“And then once you’ve finally gotten used to it, you’ll have to start calling me your husband instead,” Anakin said, grinning.

Padmé laughed. “My husband,” she echoed, her smile widening as she practiced saying it. “Just think, one of the next times we dance together will be at our wedding.”

Anakin smiled broadly back at her and leaned down to kiss her on the lips this time. “I can’t wait.”

Chapter Text

The announcement of Anakin and Padmé’s engagement was in all the newspapers the next day. Padmé had hoped people would talk about it only briefly before turning their attention from her personal life back to her work, but she should’ve known better. The public education reform bill she signed several days later went practically unnoticed because everyone was too busy gossiping about the upcoming wedding.

“It’s bad enough how the press cares more about the clothes I wear than the things I say or do, but this is just ridiculous,” she complained. “Reporters should be hassling the First Gentleman about wedding plans and leaving the president alone to get serious political work done. You know if I was the First Lady and you were the president that’s how it would be.”

“If you like, next time I’ll distract them with a spiel about flower arrangements while you make your escape,” Anakin offered, and Padmé laughed.

But aside from her frustration with the press for asking her about what her wedding dress was going to look like instead of what her plans for the economy were, Padmé had never been happier. As much as she tried to keep her personal life private and put on a dignified exterior for the public, she was over the moon about her and Anakin’s engagement and already getting extremely excited about the wedding even though they hadn’t set a date yet. Since they were intending to do a simple ceremony at the White House that wouldn’t take long to arrange, both had agreed to just be happily engaged for a few months before making any plans for the actual wedding.

Which turned out to be a good thing because in April, Padmé started coming down with some sort of stomach bug. Except the stomach bug ended up lasting for a week rather than only twenty-four hours, and she felt so horrible that she couldn’t even imagine trying to make wedding plans on top of being sick and having to keep up with her regular work. “I thought flu season was over,” she moaned as she lay on the sofa in her and Anakin’s room one evening after another bout of nausea.

Anakin came over and put his hand on her forehead to check her temperature. “You still feel normal to me, but maybe I’m just bad at this,” he said. “I don’t understand why you won’t just go see Kix.”

“I’m not sick,” Padmé insisted. “I don’t need to see a doctor.”

“You threw up five minutes ago.”

“It’s probably just stress. Or food poisoning. Like you had that time.”

“God, don’t remind me.”

But the next day Padmé checked her calendar and suddenly a different explanation for her mysterious illness occurred to her. She counted the weeks a second time, and a third and a fourth and a fifth, but she came to the same conclusion every time: her period was most definitely late.

She stared at her calendar in disbelief, mind whirling. She couldn’t be…? She and Anakin had fallen off using condoms a while ago since they’d been sleeping only with each other for so long and Padmé was on birth control. That’s right, Padmé was on birth control. But…maybe she’d missed a pill or two or three. She didn’t think she’d be so irresponsible, but then again, she always had a million things on her mind when she was getting ready every morning. The more Padmé thought about it, the more she realized that it was entirely possible she could’ve forgotten a few pills somewhere in there, too busy thinking over all the things she had to do that day or worrying about some stressful political situation she was going to have to deal with.

And so a few days later, she rather embarrassedly requested that Sabé pick up a pregnancy test for her at the drugstore and swore her to secrecy. But when Sabé returned and surreptitiously gave her the test, Padmé just stuffed it in the way back of the bathroom cabinet and piled a bunch of hair products on top of it so that Anakin wouldn’t find it. Logically she knew it would be better to just take the test right away so she’d know one way or the other and could stop wondering, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it.

Padmé was a little worried about what Anakin’s reaction might be, seeing as they hadn’t said much about whether they’d want kids in all the time they’d been together. A couple days later, she decided to try testing the waters with him so she’d have a better idea of how he’d feel. If she was even pregnant, which she very well might not be. “Ani, I wanted to talk to you for a minute,” she said that evening.

Anakin smiled and came to sit beside her on the sofa in their bedroom. “What’s up?” he asked.

“Well, I was thinking, since we’re getting married now, we should probably talk about kids,” Padmé said, trying not to sound nervous.

“Yeah, I’ve been meaning to bring that up too,” he agreed, sliding his arm around her waist. “So…I definitely want kids.”

Padmé silently breathed a sigh of relief. “Me too,” she said, feeling even better when Anakin’s smile widened. “When would you want to have one?”

He pondered the question for a minute, looking thoughtful. “I don’t know, maybe in a year or two?” he suggested. “We shouldn’t wait too long because, well, uh, not to be insensitive, but—”

“I’m already almost thirty-eight and if we wait too long, conceiving will be much harder and eventually impossible?” Padmé supplied, sensing what he was awkwardly skirting around. “I’m not offended, it’s just the truth.”

“Yeah,” said Anakin, looking relieved. “So we shouldn’t wait too long, but I don’t know if I’d want to start having kids right away either. I want to just enjoy being married for a little while, you know?”

“I agree,” Padmé said, heart sinking. Anakin didn’t want kids right away, he didn’t want them right now, he was going to be upset if it turned out she was pregnant already…

“Oh, I know,” he said a moment later. “Maybe we should wait until after the election next year. We’re going to be so busy with the reelection campaign and everything, I think it would be better to wait on having a baby until everything’s settled down again and we’re back to our normal routine.

Oh no. The election. Padmé hadn’t even thought of that. She’d heard rumors that Palpatine was planning to run against her again, to her annoyance. He wouldn’t hesitate to use her pregnancy against her. He and his supporters would say pregnancy hormones were making her overemotional and irrational and incapable of making smart decisions, and once the baby was born they’d say she was distracted and focusing on her own personal life instead of on the needs of the country. And conservatives would have a field day if they figured out she’d gotten pregnant before she and Anakin were married.

“Padmé?” Anakin said, bringing her back to the present.

“Sorry, I was just thinking,” she said. “You’re right, waiting until after the election is a good idea.”

“Okay,” said Anakin, looking pleased. He pecked her on the lips. “So that’s settled, then? Baby after the election and after we’ve been married a while?”

“Yes,” Padmé lied.

The next day, she reluctantly decided that she couldn’t live in blissful ignorance any longer. Anakin was hanging out with Ahsoka at her apartment since it was her week off, so when Padmé returned to their room that night, she took advantage of his absence and took the test. She paced up and down the bathroom while she waited for the results to appear, her heart feeling like it was about to beat right out of her chest.

At last she decided enough time must have passed, and she reached out to pick the test back up, her hand shaking slightly. She looked down at it, and all the breath was knocked out of her.

Positive.

Padmé’s brain went absolutely numb as she stared at the test in shock. Pregnant. She was pregnant. She and Anakin were having a baby.

Just then, she heard the bedroom door opening and closing, followed by a voice calling, “Padmé? You here?”

Anakin. Dammit. Padmé quickly hid the positive test in the trash, making sure to crumple up some tissues to throw on top until it was completely hidden. Then she looked in the mirror and took several deep breaths before heading out of the bathroom.

Anakin turned around and smiled when he saw her. “There you are,” he said, crossing the room to give her a kiss. “How was your day?”

“Fine. Same old, same old,” Padmé said, half afraid he’d be able to hear her heart pounding. “Did you have fun at Ahsoka’s?”

“Yeah, it was good.” He looked at her more closely. “Are you all right?”

“I-I’m fine,” Padmé said, forcing a smile. “Just tired. I was about to head to bed, actually.”

“Oh, okay.” He kissed her again. “Goodnight.”

“’Night.”

Padmé got ready for bed and climbed in, and she pretended to be asleep but was still tossing and turning even by the time Anakin had gone to bed and fallen asleep a couple hours later. She was pregnant. What was Anakin going to say when she announced they were having a baby mere days after he’d told her he didn’t want one until after the election, which was a year and a half away? But he had been very definitive about wanting a baby at some point. Surely he wouldn’t be mad that it was happening sooner than anticipated…right?

But what if he was mad? This was derailing all their plans for the future. It would be difficult to squeeze in a wedding now that she was already at least a few weeks pregnant, and running the reelection campaign would be a nightmare with a newborn to take care of at the same time. Besides, their relationship had only been public for half a year, Anakin was still trying to settle into his new lifestyle and role as First Gentleman. He wasn’t ready to be a dad yet, he needed more time to get used to being Padmé’s partner first.

Padmé sighed and rolled over, and some of her stress melted away as she watched Anakin sleeping peacefully next to her. She snuggled in closer and closed her eyes, forcing herself to breathe in time with him and calm down. Yes, the timing of her pregnancy wasn’t ideal, but it could’ve been a hell of a lot worse. Padmé shuddered to think what they would have done if she’d gotten pregnant while their relationship was still a complete secret. But now they were engaged and planning to get married, and the whole world knew it. They’d promised eternal love and commitment to each other. Anakin loved her and he wanted a baby with her someday. He wasn’t going to be mad that it was now instead of in a year or two. Hopefully.

But that was enough wondering how Anakin and the voting public and political rivals would feel. What about Padmé herself? How did she feel?

She rolled onto her back again and rested a hand on her stomach, trying to wrap her head around the fact that there was a tiny life growing inside her. She was happy, she realized. Padmé remembered Sola’s pregnancies with Ryoo and Pooja, when a part of her had always wished it was her, had wished she could be a mother instead of just an aunt. She’d always wanted kids, and now it was finally happening.

But at the same time, Padmé was scared too. Because at the end of the day, this pregnancy was an accident and had caught her totally off guard. If she and Anakin had been deliberately trying for a baby she would’ve been doing research all along and would already know what to expect. Of course she’d have plenty of time to do research between now and when the baby was actually born, but still, Padmé didn’t like not having a set plan in place.

And how the hell would she have time to take care of a baby? How was she supposed to handle a pregnancy and then an infant in addition to running a country? She was so stressed and exhausted and overworked every day as it was, she couldn’t even imagine adding a baby on top of that.

Then Anakin shifted closer to her in his sleep, and Padmé reminded herself that she wouldn’t be doing it alone. Anakin would be there helping her out with the baby and doing everything he could to take some of the stress off her plate. Besides, Padmé had always been good at biting off more than she could chew and managing to somehow chew it anyway. Becoming a first-time mother in the midst of serving her country as president was probably a crazy idea, but she’d be able to figure it out. She always did.

At last Padmé managed to relax enough to fall asleep, though when she woke the next morning, her worries had once again come to the forefront of her mind and she was back to being anxious about the baby. But she knew she couldn’t continue keeping everything to herself and worrying herself to death. She just had to tell Anakin, and together they’d work out what to do.

Even though part of her was still afraid of what his reaction would be.


Anakin thought Padmé had been acting strangely for the past several days, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it and every time he asked if she was all right, she just waved away his concerns or claimed to be tired. He was also worried that her illness didn’t seem to be letting up; she no longer complained of nausea to him, but she still looked pale and unwell. He decided to give her a few more days before forcibly escorting her to Kix’s office and making her sit through a medical exam.

One afternoon found the pair of them eating lunch in their private dining room with Bail and Breha. Padmé was unusually quiet and Anakin found himself doing most of the talking with the Organas when normally it was the other way around. He wanted to ask her once again if she was all right, but he knew she’d be even less likely to tell him what was wrong when other people were in the room than when the two of them were alone.

“Mina Bonteri mentioned to me this morning that Dooku himself told her Palpatine’s planning to run in the next election,” Bail was saying grimly. “It looks like a pretty sure thing at this point.”

“We can only hope he’ll lose the primary,” Breha said. “Maybe people won’t vote for him since he already lost to Padmé once.”

Anakin nodded in agreement. “That’s what I was thinking. They’d be smarter to choose a new candidate instead of one who’s been proven not to have a chance against Padmé.”

“I don’t know, it was a pretty close race last time,” Padmé piped up, though she was pushing her salad around on her plate and not looking at anyone.

“I suppose, but he lost to you once before anyone knew what you’d even be like as president. Now that you’ve been in office for a few years and have high approval ratings, he’ll be even less likely to defeat you,” Bail pointed out. “Most people like our administration. I think we’ve got a good chance of staying on another four years.”

Padmé seemed like she was about to protest again, but then suddenly her expression changed and she seized the vase of flowers sitting on the table and promptly vomited into it. Alarmed, Anakin rubbed her back while the Organas started making concerned exclamations. “Padmé, what’s wrong?” he asked worriedly once she was done.

Padmé looked humiliated and on the verge of tears. “I-I’m so sorry,” she said in a trembling voice. “God, this is so embarrassing, I’m so sorry—”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Anakin soothed her. “We all get stomach bugs sometimes. It’s okay.”

She sniffled. “I’m sorry,” she whispered again.

Anakin pressed a tender kiss to the top of her head. “What’s next on your schedule?” he said, hoping it would be something that could be cancelled in favor of going to see Kix.

And luckily, Bail said, “We have a meeting, but it’s just the two of us and I have no problem rescheduling it for another day if you want to get some rest, Padmé.”

Padmé shook her head. “No, I don’t want to inconvenience you.”

“It wouldn’t be inconvenient at all,” Bail promised.

“That would be great, thank you,” Anakin told him. “Hopefully it’s just one of those twenty-four-hour things and she’ll be back on her feet tomorrow.” Though he had some doubts that that was the case when he remembered that she hadn’t been feeling well for a couple weeks leading up to that day.

He stood up and ushered Padmé to her feet as well. “Come on, let’s go back to our room so you can get some rest,” he said, leading her over to the door. To the Organas, he added, “I’m sorry we have to cut lunch short.”

“It’s no problem,” Breha assured him, looking sympathetic. “Feel better soon, Padmé. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.”

Bail echoed her sentiments and Anakin thanked them, seeing as Padmé still seemed too mortified to speak. Once they were back in the hall, Anakin noticed that she was still clutching the ill-fated flower vase to her chest. “Here, let me take that,” he said, prying it from her grasp. He darted into the kitchen and unceremoniously threw the entire vase down the garbage chute, earning him an odd look from the cook, then returned to Padmé’s side and escorted her across the hall to their bedroom.

Padmé shook him off and went into the bathroom to brush her teeth, and Anakin sat down on the sofa and waited patiently for her to return. When she did, she hesitated for a moment before slowly walking over to join him. “I have something to tell you,” she said in a small voice.

Sensing that she was nervous, Anakin took her hand and squeezed it encouragingly. “What’s going on?” he asked, trying to sound gentle rather than apprehensive.

“I’m—” Padmé paused and took a deep breath, then slowly let it out again. She turned to look him square in the eye. “Ani, I’m pregnant.”

Anakin felt like someone had hit him over the head with a rock. A very large rock. Maybe a boulder. “W-what?” he stammered. “Y-you—you’re—?” He rested a trembling hand on her midriff, and tears sprang to his eyes as her words started to sink in. Pregnant. Baby. His baby, their baby. Anakin was going to be a father.

Then he actually started to cry, too overwhelmed with emotion to notice that Padmé’s expression grew even more anxious as she watched him. “Really?” he choked out. “You’re really pregnant?”

She nodded, forehead creasing with worry. Anakin threw his arms around her and squeezed her so tightly he was probably suffocating her, though she didn’t protest. He pulled back just enough to be able to pepper her face with kisses, smiling and crying and laughing a little bit as he did so.

Eventually Padmé gently pushed him away, looking surprised and hopeful. “You’re—you’re not upset?” she asked.

Anakin stared at her, flabbergasted. “Upset? Why would I be upset?” he said.

“I-I don’t know, I thought—you said you didn’t want a baby until we’d been married for a while. You said you wanted to enjoy being married first before starting a family,” Padmé reminded him. “So I just—I was scared you wouldn’t be happy because it’s happening too soon.”

Anakin shook his head and rested his hand on her cheek, smiling broadly at her and feeling like his heart could burst. “Padmé, I swear to you, I’m just as happy to be having a baby now as I would be if it was happening when we’d planned it to happen. Sometimes things don’t happen according to plan, that’s just how life is,” he said. Then something occurred to him. “Wait, did you already know you were pregnant when you asked me about kids and that’s why you brought it up?” Surely it couldn’t be a coincidence that Padmé was telling him she was pregnant mere days after that conversation.

“I didn’t know, but I suspected it. I took the test and found out for sure that night,” she admitted. “And I was worried you wouldn’t want kids at all, so I did feel better when you said you did, but then I felt worse when you said you didn’t want one for a while.”

“So you found out days ago and didn’t tell me until now?” Anakin asked indignantly.

“I told you, I was scared you’d be mad,” Padmé said, though he was pleased to see that she was starting to smile too. “It took me a few days to work up the courage.”

His face softened. “I’m not mad. Not at all,” he said, and then he was leaning in and kissing her again. Padmé kissed him back this time, and he could feel her relaxing against him now that he’d assured her he was happy about the news.

Anakin put his hand back on her stomach, beaming at the thought that their baby was in there at that very moment. “Hi, my little angel,” he said softly, leaning down a little to talk to the baby. “Daddy’s so excited to meet you.”

Padmé laughed at him, though she looked tearful too when he glanced back up at her. “I don’t know how we’re going to get through the election with this,” she said after a moment. “Palpatine’s going to try his best to slander me for—for being so selfish as to get pregnant while in office—”

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. No one’s going to listen to him.”

“You’d be surprised. I’m the servant of the people, Ani, and there are plenty who think that means I shouldn’t have my own life.”

“Well, we just won’t listen to them,” Anakin declared. “Our baby is a blessing. Anyone who says otherwise is an idiot.”

“Yes, but they still control whether or not I get reelected,” she pointed out.

He shrugged. “The only voters who’ll be mad about us having a baby are the maniacs who already hate you and wouldn’t have voted for you anyway. No one else will care. If anything, they’ll be excited about it. You’ve seen all those internet articles painting us as star-crossed lovers, and me as some rags-to-riches Cinderella story. Those people will be thrilled we’re having a baby.”

“I guess that’s true,” Padmé said, chuckling. Then she made a face. “We’ll be so busy, though. I mean, our normal day’s schedule is ridiculously hectic as it is, but throwing in a baby and a reelection campaign—”

“But the baby will be born in…what, January?” Anakin said, counting on his fingers. “And the election’s not until November, so the baby will be at least six months old by the time election season really starts getting crazy. The first few months after they’re born are probably the hardest, and we won’t have as much going on in the winter and early spring.”

“Yes, but—”

“Padmé, you’re trying to stress yourself out. You always do this,” Anakin interrupted, fondly exasperated. “Just relax. Everything will work out.”

“Easy for you to say. You’re not the one with the baby inside you,” she grumbled. “What’s your plan, to just cross every bridge when we get to it?”

“Well, we don’t have to stress about crossing the tenth bridge when we’re only at the first, that’s for sure.”

Padmé laughed and leaned against him. They snuggled happily for a few minutes before she said suddenly, “What about the wedding?”

“What about it?”

“When are we going to do it? Me being pregnant messes everything up, because I definitely don’t want to be waddling down the aisle with a baby bump, but there’s no way we’d have time to do it after the baby’s born—”

“We could do it in a month or two,” Anakin suggested. “You probably won’t be showing much by then, and we wanted a small, simple wedding anyway, so I’m sure we could arrange everything pretty fast.”

“It might be tight timewise…but I think that sounds like our best option,” Padmé said after thinking about it for a minute. “Plus, the sooner we get married, the less people will be able to accuse me of a premarital pregnancy.”

Anakin rolled his eyes. “You worry too much about what other people think of you.”

“Yeah, well, my career kind of depends on a favorable public opinion. I have to be as prim and proper as possible, and I already toed the line once when I announced I was in a longterm relationship with my personal bodyguard.”

He just chuckled and pecked her on the cheek. Anakin wasn’t particularly bothered about people knowing Padmé had gotten pregnant before they were married, but he could see it bothered Padmé and if that was one of the birds they could kill with one stone by pushing up the wedding, so much the better.

“So…you’re sure?” Padmé asked hesitantly a few moments later.

“About what?”

“All of this. Sure you want a baby right now, sure you want to get married within a month or two instead of waiting longer. Sure you’re really happy about everything and not just lying to make me feel better.”

Anakin wrapped both arms around her waist and kissed her on the nose. “I’m sure,” he told her, smiling. “About everything. This is the happiest moment of my life. I can’t wait to marry you, and I can’t wait for our baby to be born either.”

Padmé smiled back, and then she leaned in to kiss him this time. “Good. Me too.”

Chapter Text

“Good morning,” Padmé said, smiling to herself as she arrived in Bail’s office for their make-up meeting the next day. All she could think about was the fact that she was having a baby; she doubted she’d be able to focus on her work that day.

“Morning. You seem to be feeling better,” Bail remarked.

Breha, who had apparently stopped in to say hello to her husband, hummed in agreement. “Must’ve been one of those twenty-four-hour things after all.”

Padmé hesitated. She and Anakin had agreed not to tell anyone for the time being, aside from essential personnel such as Kix and the White House chef, who’d had to be informed so she’d know not to prepare anything Padmé shouldn’t eat. And Sabé, whom telling had been unavoidable since she was the one who’d bought Padmé the pregnancy test. But other than that, they’d decided not to tell even friends and family just yet, preferring to keep the news to themselves for a while (and also not wanting to be upstaged by their unborn child at their own wedding, because they knew that was all their parents would be able to talk about if they told them now).

On the other hand, Padmé was still incredibly mortified about throwing up in front of the Organas the day before, and explaining to them that it was morning sickness would alleviate her embarrassment significantly. Plus, really, Padmé had been the one who’d wanted to keep quiet whereas Anakin had been ready to shout to the whole world they were having a baby, so she doubted he’d mind if she told Bail and Breha without consulting him first. And, she realized, Bail would probably have to fill in for her when the baby was born, so it seemed fair to give him plenty of advance warning.

Padmé therefore allowed her smile to show on her face and said, “Actually, it wasn’t a stomach bug. I’m pregnant.”

The Organas both gasped, and then Breha was shooting out of her chair and throwing her arms around Padmé. “Oh, congratulations!” she cried. “I’m so happy for you.”

“Thank you,” Padmé said, hugging her back and beaming.

Bail finally succeeded in nudging Breha aside so he could hug Padmé as well. “Congratulations, Padmé, this is such wonderful news,” he said, smiling. “You and Anakin must be so excited.”

“Yeah, we really are,” Padmé agreed with a little laugh. “I swear, I had to work pretty hard to persuade Anakin not to have a press conference on the spot so he could tell the entire world.”

Bail and Breha laughed too. “You’re both going to be wonderful parents,” said Breha, and Bail nodded in agreement. “When are you due?”

“We’re not sure yet, but we’re guessing late January,” Padmé replied. “So, Bail, you’ll probably have to take the reins for a little while at first. I’m hoping not to take too long of a maternity leave, but—”

“It’s not a problem, we have plenty of time to work out the logistics,” he assured her. “Are you going to push the wedding until after the baby’s born, or…?”

“We’re actually pushing it up,” she said. “We’re not sure exactly when yet, but definitely as soon as possible.”

“Well, it’s certainly going to be exciting around here for the next few months,” Bail said, and Padmé chuckled in agreement.

They promised her they wouldn’t mention the pregnancy to anyone else until she was ready to share the news, and Breha departed to let Bail and Padmé get on with their meeting. Though even so, Padmé ended up having to sheepishly confess that her mind was elsewhere when Bail caught her zoning out a couple times, but he just laughed and said he couldn’t blame her.

After calling everyone they were planning to invite and seeing when they were all free, Anakin and Padmé settled on Saturday a month away for the wedding. Dormé, the White House social secretary, nearly had an aneurysm when they informed her she had only a month to plan an entire wedding, but they quickly assured her that it was going to be a very simple affair. “We just need some chairs and food for the guests, and that’s basically it,” Padmé promised. “Maybe some flowers or something, but seriously, we don’t want a big fuss.”

“Ma’am, you’re the president of the United States! Your wedding should be a big fuss,” Dormé said indignantly.

“Trust me, I’m already prepared to get yelled at on that account by a million other people,” Padmé said, rolling her eyes. “Can you do it or not? Because we could push it another few weeks if you need more time…”

“Of course I can do it,” Dormé said, looking offended. “I’ve pulled off bigger events in less time, ma’am.”

“I know you have,” Padmé replied, suppressing a laugh. “And I trust you to do everything perfectly. I just don’t want you to stress yourself out too much over this, okay? The simpler the better.”

The Naberries descended upon the White House two weeks before the wedding to help with the arrangements, though Dormé did indeed have everything under control. “I’m glad our kid will have cousins,” Anakin mused that night after having spent a good chunk of the day entertaining Ryoo and Pooja, who by now were very fond of “Uncle Ani.” “I always wanted some when I was little. Or even just a sibling would’ve been great.”

“Having a sibling is pretty great,” Padmé acknowledged. “Or, it is now at least. I’m sure there was many a day when I wished I was an only child as a kid. Sola and I used to drive each other up the wall.”

“Hmm…so what do you think? Have our kid be lonely like me or give them a sibling to drive them up the wall like you?” Anakin asked, putting his hand on her midriff; there wasn’t even a baby bump yet, let alone kicks or movements, but he couldn’t stop touching and talking to her stomach, which Padmé found ridiculously sweet.

“I don’t know. How about we see how we handle being the parents of one child before we think about having a second?” she said, chuckling.

“I guess that would be the logical thing to do,” Anakin said. “But I’ve always wanted a big family. I was thinking three or four kids. Maybe five.”

“Five?” Padmé squawked. “I was thinking somewhere along the lines of two.”

“That’s it? Come on, at least three.”

“How do you expect me to have time to get pregnant three times between now and when I’m too old for it?”

“We’ll have them all right in a row,” Anakin suggested. “Or adopt. Or maybe it’ll end up being twins or triplets. I did read online that older moms have a higher chance of having multiples.”

Padmé playfully hit him on the arm. “Hey, watch who you’re calling old. And I don’t even want to imagine what it’ll be like giving birth to one baby, let alone two or three at the same time,” she said, grimacing. “Anyway, speaking of babies, remember not to give anything away between now and the wedding.”

“Our families will all find out eventually.”

“Yes, but how do you think it’ll look from their perspective if we say, ‘actually, in addition to abruptly pushing up the wedding, we’re also having a baby, and the timing of these two things was totally a coincidence, we swear this isn’t a shotgun wedding’?”

“Okay, true.” Anakin wrapped his arms around her waist and nuzzled her hair. “I just hate not being able to say anything. I’m so excited, I want everyone to know.”

“I know, me too. But just another month or two, and then literally the whole world will know,” Padmé said, turning her head to kiss him.

The Skywalker-Larses arrived the next evening, and they all sat down for dinner together. Both sides of the family had met each other before—Christmas, Thanksgiving, Anakin’s birthday in the fall—and Padmé had been pleasantly surprised to see that they got along very well despite their vastly different backgrounds. That evening too, every time she glanced down the table towards where Jobal, Ruwee, Shmi, and Cliegg were sitting together, the four parents were smiling and engaged in conversation. Sola and Darred were chatting happily with Owen and Beru, and Ryoo and Pooja were sitting on either side of Anakin and hanging on every word he said. It was possibly the most adorable thing Padmé had ever seen. He was going to be an incredible father, she thought with a burst of warmth in her chest.

“But are you sure you want to do the wedding so soon?” Jobal asked yet again during a lull in the conversation. “Why not wait a few more months, or even a year or so? Then you’d have time to plan a proper wedding instead of rushing everything.”

“First of all, the plans are already mostly solidified so it’d be a bit late to change our minds and postpone it. And second of all, we don’t want a big wedding that takes ages to plan,” Padmé replied. “We’re hoping for everything to be very simple and low-key, and we want to cause as little of a fuss as possible. And we’ve already been engaged for two months and we decided we’re tired of waiting, we just want to get married now.” To be fair, that was all true. She just hoped their families would accept the explanation so they wouldn’t have to reveal that her pregnancy was actually the main reason for the hurry.

Fortunately, Jobal sighed and conceded the point. “Have you started looking at dresses yet?” Sola said next.

Padmé nodded. “I have a few I’m deciding between, so I thought you and Mom could come with me to my fitting tomorrow and help me pick.”

Sola and Jobal eagerly agreed, and the following morning found them in Padmé’s room with Cordé, the dress designer. Padmé tried on all her options for her mother and sister; Jobal just teared up and said she looked beautiful for every single one, but fortunately Sola was actually helpful. Padmé ended up settling on an extremely elegant dress with a long, flowy skirt and elbow-length lace sleeves. She’d been leaning towards that one anyway, and her sister’s enthusiastic approval sealed the deal.

“It shouldn’t take too long to make final adjustments,” Cordé said after Jobal and Sola had left and Padmé had changed back into her regular clothes. “I’ll let you know when it’s all finished so you can try it on again.”

“Thank you. Also, I thought I should let you know, I’m, um, I’m pregnant, so I don’t know if you’ll have to make any changes in your measurements?” Padmé said uncertainly.

Cordé looked surprised for a moment, but she quickly returned to professional neutrality and said, “Possibly. How far along are you, ma’am?”

“Seven weeks now, so nine weeks by the wedding,” Padmé replied. “I shouldn’t have a baby bump by then, but I’ve still been gaining weight, so…”

Cordé nodded thoughtfully and scribbled something down on her notepad. “Very good, ma’am. I’ll make the dress a bit loose just in case and I may schedule an extra fitting or two to make sure it still fits well.”

“Okay, great,” Padmé said, relieved. She’d been worried about her pregnancy interfering with her wedding dress to the point that she’d almost decided not to get one, but Anakin had talked her down and pointed out that any professional wedding dress maker would know how to deal with pregnant brides.

“How was the fitting?” Anakin asked later that afternoon.

“Great. I picked one,” Padmé said.

He smiled. “Can I have any hints about what it looks like?”

She laughed at his hopeful expression. “No way. You’ll just have to wait and see.”

Anakin groaned. “Well, at least I only have to wait two weeks instead of several months,” he said. “Did you tell them you’re pregnant?”

Padmé nodded and recounted the conversation with Cordé. “I’m still paranoid about developing a baby bump within the next two weeks, though,” she said, putting her hand on her stomach.

He covered her hand with his own and rested his chin on her shoulder. “Most first time moms don’t start to show until between twelve and sixteen weeks,” he informed her. “So since you’ll be nine at the wedding, you’ve got a solid three-to-seven-week wiggle room.”

Padmé raised her eyebrows. “How do you know that?”

“I’ve been doing some reading.”

She laughed and pecked him on the cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you, too. Are you sure you can’t even tell me a little detail about the dress?”

“Not on your life.”


“You are a damn liar, Anakin Skywalker.”

“I was just going off what the book said!”

“Then the book is a damn liar.”

“No one will be able to tell. You can’t see it at all when you have clothes on, and hopefully no one but me is going to be seeing you with your clothes off anytime soon.”

“But the dress! The measurements have to be so precise for that, what if even just this tiny little change makes the dress not fit me anymore?”

Anakin pressed a kiss to her cheek. “I’m sure it’ll be fine. They said they were going to make it a little loose, right?”

They were standing in front of the full-length mirror in their bedroom, gazing at the tiny, barely-there baby bump Padmé had noticed for the first time as she was getting dressed. Since she was starting to show two days before the wedding and not three to seven weeks afterwards as Anakin had predicted, Padmé was staring at her reflection in dismay. Anakin, though, seemed far from dismayed; on the contrary, he couldn’t stop rubbing her stomach and beaming.

“But why am I already showing?” Padmé asked for the dozenth time that morning. “Do you think we miscalculated and I’m actually farther along than we thought?”

“Hmmm, maybe. We’ll ask at the ultrasound.” According to the pregnancy books nine weeks was a bit early for the first ultrasound, but Kix had told her he wanted to monitor her extra carefully to make sure all was well, seeing as she was the president and all.

Once they’d both gotten dressed and eaten, they headed to the White House medical office. Padmé had scheduled the ultrasound first thing so that she’d be able to get it done quickly and return to her usual work; she’d been overworking all week in anticipation of being as off-duty as possible for her and Anakin’s wedding day and subsequent weeklong honeymoon. She just hoped there wouldn’t be some sort of national emergency during that time.

“How are you this morning, Madam President?” Kix asked when they arrived.

“Nauseous, as usual,” Padmé said. She hopped onto the exam table and pushed her shirt up so Kix could start spreading the gel on her belly. “That reminds me, do you have any medication I could take on Saturday to combat my morning sickness? It’s bad enough to put up with on a normal day, but I really don’t want it ruining my wedding.” It was starting to ease up a little since she was approaching second trimester, but she didn’t want to take any chances.

Kix chuckled. “I can certainly understand that, ma’am. There are a few different options, so I’ll go over them with you at the end of this appointment and recommend whichever one I think is best. I can’t guarantee that any of them will completely eradicate all nausea, but they will at least lessen it.”

“Great, thank you. We were also wondering…as you can see, I’m showing a little bit already, but we thought I was only nine weeks,” Padmé explained. “Is it normal to be showing at nine weeks, or am I actually farther along than we thought?”

“Well, it’s different for everyone, but you’re right that nine weeks does seem a little early to be showing for the first pregnancy,” Kix said, nodding. “Let’s take a look here.”

He fiddled with some buttons on the ultrasound machine, and a moment later the room was filled with a rapid thump-thump. The baby’s heartbeat. Padmé smiled and looked up at Anakin, who reached out to take her hand, also smiling.

Kix listened to the heartbeat with a thoughtful expression on his face, and then he began moving the probe around on Padmé’s midriff, consulting the screen as he did so. “Mystery solved,” he said at last, turning to smile at them. “You are nine weeks, ma’am, but you’re showing early because you’re having twins.”

Padmé could’ve sworn her heart stopped beating for a moment. “What?”

“Congratulations,” Kix said, laughing a little at Padmé and Anakin’s obvious shock. He angled the screen towards them. “It’s a little hard to see, but here are the two babies—” He pointed at two separate tiny blobs on the screen “—and if you listen carefully, you’ll be able to hear that there’s actually two heartbeats, not just one.”

Padmé gaped at the screen, then dutifully listened harder and, sure enough, made out two different heartbeats. “W-wow,” she stuttered, dazed. She looked up at Anakin; his eyes looked like they were about to fall out of his head.

“Wow is right,” he agreed after a moment, and then they were both laughing and crying a little and exchanging several sloppy kisses.

“Remember a couple weeks ago when you were all, ‘oh, maybe it’ll be twins because you’re old’?” Padmé said to Anakin after they’d left Kix’s office. “You totally jinxed it.”

He grinned. “Jinxed? So you’re not happy it’s twins?”

“No, I am. I am happy,” she said, beaming at him. She was still astonished, to be sure, but more than anything she was overjoyed that they were having not one, but two babies.

Rather than responding, Anakin swept her up into his arms and twirled her around and around in circles. “Ani, stop, put me down,” Padmé said, though she was laughing along with him, sure that her heart had never felt so full—

“Looks like you two are in a good mood this morning.”

Anakin quickly set her down and they both looked over to see Sola standing there. “Yes, well, we…are getting married in two days,” Padmé said. “I think we’re allowed to be in a good mood.”

“Of course you are,” Sola said, though she was giving them a sly look that made Padmé nervous.

“Anyway, I have to get going. Lots to do.” Padmé gave Anakin one last kiss and bid Sola goodbye before hurrying off, wondering not for the first time if her sister suspected anything. No one else seemed to notice that Padmé had been steadfastly refusing the wine every night at dinner, but she was pretty sure she’d seen Sola watching her suspiciously a few times.

As it turned out, she didn’t have to wait long to find out: Sola cornered her after dinner that evening, claiming that she wanted to go for a walk and give Padmé some marriage advice. They’d only been outside for about two minutes when Sola announced, “You’re pregnant.”

Padmé gave her a panicked look. “What? What are you talking about?”

“Oh, come on, don’t give me that,” Sola said, smirking. “First of all, you’ve been nauseous on and off the whole time we’ve been here. Mom and Dad think it’s just pre-wedding jitters, but it’s actually morning sickness, isn’t it?”

“Um, no, it’s, uh, it’s the first one. Pre-wedding jitters.”

“Yeah, okay. Second of all, you’re constantly complaining about how exhausted you are, and you literally fell asleep at the dinner table the other day.”

“Exhaustion tends to happen when you’re responsible for an entire country.”

“Third, you love wine, but I haven’t seen you have even a sip of any alcohol these past couple weeks. You’ve cut back a lot on caffeine too compared to how much coffee you used to drink. And I’ve never seen you drink so much water on a daily basis. It’s almost like you’re unusually concerned with staying hydrated.” Sola looked terribly smug. “I was pregnant twice in recent memory, Padmé, I can recognize all the signs even if no one else has noticed yet.”

Padmé glared at her for several moments, debating whether she should outright lie or just come clean. Finally she heaved a sigh and, after checking to make sure no one but her security detail was within sight, said in a low voice, “All right, fine, you caught me, I’m pregnant. But don’t you dare tell anyone, okay?”

Sola was too busy squealing and throwing her arms around her sister to hear Padmé’s insistence on secrecy. “Oh, I knew it, I knew it! Congratulations! How long have you known? When are you due? Who else knows?”

“I’m due in January,” Padmé interrupted. “I’m nine weeks along now, and I’ve known for about a month. The only people who know are me, Anakin, my doctor, the Organas, Sabé, the wedding dress designer, the White House chef, and now you, so you’d better not say anything to anyone. Promise me.”

“I promise,” Sola said, rolling her eyes. “I don’t see why you won’t at least tell Mom and Dad.”

“We’d just rather keep it to ourselves for a while longer, okay? Jeez.”

“Are you sure it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that you’re going to be a pregnant bride?”

“Fine, maybe a little,” Padmé grumbled. “Our parents all already think we’re rushing the wedding, we don’t want them to think we pushed it up just because I got pregnant.”

“But didn’t you push it up just because you got pregnant?” Sola asked.

“Okay, that was a factor in the decision, but we also just really wanted to get married and didn’t want to wait any longer,” said Padmé. “Look, I just want to have a nice peaceful wedding day without everyone pestering us about the babies. The bride and groom are supposed to be the center of attention, not their unborn children.”

“All right, all right, I get it. I won’t say anything.” Then Sola paused. “Hang on, did you say babies and children plural?”

Padmé ducked her head and smiled bashfully. “Yeah, it’s twins,” she said, still hardly able to believe it herself. “We just found out this morning. That was what you caught us being suspiciously happy about.”

That set off another round of squealing and hugging, and it was quite some time before the pair of them went back inside and rejoined the others, Sola dutifully wiping the smile off her face and keeping her lips sealed.

Chapter Text

The next day flew by, and the day of the wedding dawned warm and sunny. Anakin had banished himself back to his old room upstairs for the night, saying he didn’t want to spoil the surprise by seeing Padmé before the ceremony (though when pressed he also admitted to being afraid of bad luck). He woke up feeling simultaneously more excited and more nervous than he’d ever felt in his life. Shmi and Kitster had insisted on helping him get ready despite Anakin’s own insistences that he wasn’t going to need help, and he had to admit he was relieved to see them when they knocked on his door a few minutes after he’d hopped out of the shower.

“You’ve both gotten married within the past year or two,” he said, standing aside to let them enter; Kitster and Tamora’s wedding had been back in the fall. “Is it normal to feel like you’re going to die of nerves?”

“Very normal,” Kitster assured him, grinning, and Shmi nodded in agreement, also looking rather amused.

“Are you sure?” Anakin asked anxiously. “Because what if it means—I mean, obviously I don’t have any doubts about marrying Padmé, but I feel like I shouldn’t be nervous, like it’s a bad sign—”

“Marriage is a huge, life-changing event. That would make anyone nervous, no matter how sure you are of your partner,” Shmi soothed him. “Honestly, I’d be more worried if you weren’t nervous because to me, that would say you’re taking this commitment too lightly. And if it makes you feel better, I stopped in to check on Padmé on my way up here and Jobal told me she’s very nervous as well.”

She and Kitster both chuckled, and Anakin managed a smile too. “That does make me feel better, actually,” he said.

It didn’t take him too long to get dressed and ready, though Shmi held up the proceedings a bit by fussing over him and getting emotional. At last it was nearly time to go. “How do I look?” Anakin said, checking his reflection for the hundredth time.

Shmi kissed him on the cheek. “So handsome,” she said, smiling. “I’m so proud of you, Ani.”

Anakin sniffled a little too. “Thanks, Mom,” he said, throwing his arms around her and hugging her tight. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Eventually Shmi let go of him and stepped out into the hall to let Anakin have one more word with Kitster, his best man, before they all headed to the ceremony together. “Do I actually look good?” Anakin said, not sure he trusted his mother’s judgment.

“Uh-huh,” Kitster promised. “Perfect trophy husband material.”

He laughed heartily, and Anakin scowled at him. “Shut up,” he grumbled.

“I’m kidding. But I gotta admit, it’s still weird. You marrying the president of the United States,” said Kitster. “I mean, we came from nothing, you and me, and now you’re about to be married to one of the richest, most powerful people in the world.”

“Yeah, it’s weird for me too sometimes,” Anakin admitted. Whenever he thought back to his childhood, to his old life in Arizona…all of that felt like a dream now. Well, more of a nightmare.

Kitster smiled slightly. “I was a little surprised when you asked me to be your best man, you know,” he said. “I figured you’d probably have lots of fancy politician friends by now and wouldn’t have time for me anymore.”

Anakin shook his head vigorously and pulled him in for a fierce hug. “No way. Politicians suck. Don’t tell anyone I said that, I’m sure it’d cause a PR problem,” he added, making Kitster snicker. “I’ll always have time for you, Kitster, no matter how pretentious my life gets from here on out. You’ll always be my best friend."

Kitster hugged him back, and he sounded a little choked up when he said, “You’ll always be my best friend too, Ani.”

Anakin let go of him a minute later, and both hastily wiped their eyes. “All right,” said Kitster, straightening Anakin’s tie. “You ready to go out there and become Mr. Amidala?”

“Neither of us are changing our names.”

“Well, I’m sure people are going to forget and call you Mr. Amidala anyway. Trophy husband.”

“That’s probably true,” Anakin conceded, though not without rolling his eyes. But then he smiled. “And yes, I’m ready. I was ready months ago.”


Padmé took a deep breath and gave her reflection one last check in the mirror, smiling a little through her nerves. She looked like the picture-perfect bride, and she was sure she’d never felt so beautiful in her entire life. And she was pleased to note that the dress still fit perfectly and her tiny baby bump wasn’t visible at all. “Okay,” she said, turning to face her parents and Sola, who’d been helping her get ready—or rather, a team of professionals had helped her get ready while her family mostly stood around being weepy. “I’m ready.”

“You look so beautiful, darling,” Jobal said, sniffling.

Tears were welling up in Padmé’s eyes too, but she blinked them back as she hugged both her parents and then her sister. “You’d better go, you don’t want the ceremony to start before you’ve sat down,” she said. She’d opted to walk herself down the aisle, deciding she’d feel a little silly having her parents give her away when she was thirty-seven years old and had been independent and living on her own for fifteen years now. She’d worried that would hurt their feelings, but to her relief, Ruwee and Jobal had assured her they didn’t mind, saying now they’d get the full experience of seeing her walk down the aisle since they’d be seated with the rest of the guests instead of walking with her.

A final round of hugs and kisses was exchanged, and then Padmé was left to wait alone. It was only a few minutes before she had to leave herself, luckily; she would’ve gone crazy pacing around her room alone for too long. She stepped out into the hall and saw Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and Adi Gallia waiting for her. Padmé and Anakin had tried to talk Mace into giving them temporary security teams for the day and letting their own teams attend as guests, but he’d been adamant that security for their wedding should be increased, if anything, not decreased. Fortunately, the agents on duty would be able to watch the ceremony and all the others had eagerly accepted the invitation to come to the wedding even though they weren’t on duty.

As much of the White House staff as possible was attending, aside from those whose jobs were absolutely essential for the day-to-day running of the place and couldn’t be off-duty for the day. Padmé’s cabinet was all there, and Bail was officiating the ceremony. Besides them and both sides of the family, the only other people in attendance were Anakin and Padmé’s closest friends. Small and intimate, just as they’d wanted.

Ahsoka gasped when Padmé stepped outside. “Ma’am, you look beautiful,” she said, and Obi-Wan and Adi smiled and agreed.

“Thank you,” Padmé said, smiling back.

“Are you nervous?” Obi-Wan asked as they walked. The ceremony was being held in the East Room, with the reception outside in the gardens afterwards.

“Yes,” she admitted with a little laugh. “But also excited. I’m kind of all over the place right now.” Though she wasn’t entirely sure whether the emotional roller coaster was wedding-induced or pregnancy-induced.

The others laughed too. “That’s pretty much what Anakin said,” Ahsoka told her.

“You saw him?” Padmé asked.

Obi-Wan nodded. “We told Rex to bring him by on their way over while we were waiting for you so we could wish him luck.”

“Did he look nice?” Anakin’s wedding attire wasn’t nearly as much of a secret as Padmé’s, but she still didn’t know exactly what he was wearing and was eager to see him.

“I don’t want to spoil the surprise,” Ahsoka protested.

“You can’t even tell me if he looked nice or not?”

“Ma’am, it’s his own wedding, do you really think he wouldn’t look nice?”

“I was just making sure.”

“You’ll see him in about two minutes anyway.”

Padmé’s stomach squirmed; she wasn’t sure whether it was excitement or nerves. Or morning sickness, though thankfully the medicine Kix had given her seemed to be working pretty well so far. “Good point,” she said.

Soon they arrived, and Padmé took a deep breath as Obi-Wan and Ahsoka opened the doors for her. She heard the music starting up, and all the guests stood as she took her first step. She thought they were all smiling at her, but she couldn’t really tell because every single ounce of her attention was focused on Anakin standing at the other end of the room and looking breathtakingly handsome.

She could see he was already starting to cry, which made her tear up too. She kept walking, beaming at him as a few tears slipped unchecked down her cheeks, and Anakin was beaming back at her through his own tears, and Padmé was positive she’d never been so happy in her entire life, all her nerves completely gone and replaced by joy at the knowledge that she was only minutes away from finally being married to the love of her life.

At last she reached him, and she passed her bouquet of flowers over to Sola, her maid of honor, and reached out to take Anakin’s hands. They gazed into each other’s eyes, their smiles impossibly wide, and Padmé wanted to say something to him but just couldn’t find any words. The look on his face told her he felt the same way.

“Welcome, family, friends, and loved ones,” Bail began as the guests took their seats once more. “We gather here today to celebrate the marriage of Anakin and Padmé…”

The ceremony seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. Kitster passed over the rings and Anakin and Padmé slid them onto each other’s fingers, and then Bail was smiling and saying, “By the power vested in me by the District of Columbia, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

Their lips met in a kiss seconds later. Anakin wrapped his arms around her waist, and Padmé rested her hands on his chest and smiled against his mouth, feeling him smiling too. The guests were all applauding and cheering, but she could barely even hear because she was too caught up in the sensation of her and Anakin’s first kiss as husband and wife.

They drew apart a moment later, though their foreheads and noses were still touching. Padmé reached up to wipe the tears off his cheeks, and Anakin caught her hand and laced their fingers together. “I love you,” he said, sniffling and smiling so, so brightly. “My wife.”

Padmé let out a noise that was halfway between a laugh and a sob and smiled back, heart bursting with love and joy. “I love you too, my husband.”

They led everyone out to the gardens for the reception, though first numerous photographs were taken. Then Anakin and Padmé shared their first dance together as a married couple, the same song they’d danced to at the party two years ago before they even knew how they felt about each other, the first time they’d ever danced together. After that there were speeches and toasts, and then everyone had lunch, and then there was more dancing, and then Anakin and Padmé cut their wedding cake.

“You still feeling good?” Anakin asked after they’d eaten their cake. “The medicine Kix gave you’s still working?”

“Yep,” Padmé said happily. She stifled a yawn. “I am kinda tired, though.”

“Well, I don’t blame you. Your body’s trying to accommodate two extra people in there, that’s bound to take a lot of energy.”

“Shhh, not so loud,” she said, though she was grinning. Fortunately, the pair of them were currently snuggled on a bench together in a clear “do not disturb the newlyweds” manner, so there wasn’t anyone close by who was paying their conversation much attention.

“Why don’t you take a quick power nap?” Anakin suggested when she yawned again.

“A nap? At our wedding? I can’t do that!”

“Why not? Everyone knows you’ve been working ridiculously hard all week so you could have next week off, I’m sure they won’t be surprised that you’re a little tired. And I would definitely rather you take a nap now than be too tired to celebrate our wedding night properly,” he added, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

Padmé laughed. “Well…maybe if I just rested my eyes for a little while,” she said after a minute. “But wake me up if anyone comes over to talk to us.”

“Okay.”

Anakin pulled her into his lap and made her rest her head on his shoulder, and he was so warm and comfy that Padmé ended up conking out for a solid twenty minutes. She woke up to find him chatting with Sola. “Ani, you promised you’d wake me up!” Padmé said indignantly, stretching and sitting up more fully, though she didn’t move off his lap.

“I didn’t want to disturb you,” Anakin said, totally unapologetic. “You never get as much sleep as you should even on a normal night, and you probably barely slept at all last night if you were anywhere near as hyped up on emotion as I was.”

“All right, true, I did sleep pretty badly last night.”

“Plus, first trimester exhaustion is terrible,” Sola said wisely. “Honestly, I applaud you for making it through a whole wedding with only a quick nap, I was always about ready to pass out after just a normal day at work. And I only had one baby both times, not two at once.”

The others both chuckled, and Anakin lovingly rested a hand on Padmé’s stomach and kissed her on the cheek. “Stop it, you’ll give it away,” Padmé scolded, batting his hand away.

“Padmé, you just took a nap at your own wedding and haven’t had a sip of alcohol all day, I’m sure people are probably starting to suspect something,” Sola said, laughing. “Anyway, I just came over to keep Anakin company for a bit and congratulate you both again, I should go make sure the girls aren’t getting into trouble and leave you lovebirds alone.”

They thanked her and she hugged both of them before leaving again. “Do you want to go dance some more?” Anakin asked.

“Maybe in a bit,” said Padmé. “I just want to sit here with you for a little longer.”

Anakin smiled and slid his arms around her once more, and they sat there for a while, quiet aside from the occasional murmur or giggle. Padmé took his left hand in her own and traced over his shiny new wedding ring, smiling and marveling at the thought that he was her husband.

“You know,” Anakin said as she did so, “I always used to wish I’d lost my left hand instead of my right because the right was the one I did everything with. But now I’m so glad it happened the way it did, because I get to wear my wedding ring on the correct hand.”

Padmé’s smile widened, and she brought his hand up and pressed a kiss to his knuckles. “We’re married, Ani,” she said in amazement. “You’re my husband.”

“And you’re my wife,” Anakin agreed, beaming at her.

The festivities went late into the night, though Padmé and Anakin excused themselves around midnight, final congratulations (and wolf-whistles from some more intoxicated guests) following them as they went back inside. Then Anakin scooped her up into his arms and carried her the rest of the way to their bedroom, the pair of them giggling and exchanging a kiss every few steps and probably mortifying the agents currently walking with them.

Once inside, they waited impatiently for Obi-Wan to check their rooms. Anakin pulled her in for a heated kiss, then started moving down to kiss her neck once Obi-Wan had gone in to check the bathroom. “Ani—Ani, honestly,” Padmé said breathlessly, trying to nudge him away. “Obi-Wan’s still here.”

“As if he doesn’t know what we’ll be doing all night,” Anakin murmured against her neck, and she couldn’t help but giggle.

Obi-Wan returned a moment later and cast them a glance that was somewhere between exasperated and fond. “Congratulations, both of you,” he said warmly. “Have a good night.”

“Oh, we will,” Anakin called after him as he headed towards the door, making Padmé hit his chest and giggle yet again.

Practically before the door had even shut, Anakin was laying her down on the bed and kissing her ravenously. “Wait, my dress is getting all wrinkled,” she pulled away to say.

Anakin sighed but obligingly sat up, then hopped off the bed and tugged her to stand too. “I want to get one last look,” he said, gazing at her so intensely that Padmé felt naked already. “You’re so beautiful, I almost don’t even want to undress you. You look like an angel, Padmé.”

She turned pink at the compliment, but then said, “Well, I could just wear the dress all night and not have sex with you.”

“Mmm, on second thoughts, that sounds like a terrible idea.”

Padmé laughed, and Anakin approached her and pulled her hair out of its updo, watching as her curls spilled down around her shoulders. Then he went around behind her and started slowly unzipping the dress. The only sounds in the room were the zipper and their breathing. Padmé closed her eyes as the dress started slipping off her shoulders, shivering as Anakin’s hands brushed against the skin of her bare back on his way down, the cool metal of the prosthesis enhancing the sensation even more.

At last it was fully unzipped, and Padmé stepped out of it and her shoes and hurried over to the dressing room to carefully hang the dress back up before returning to Anakin. “Kiss me,” she breathed, and his lips were on hers immediately.

Padmé moaned softly into the kiss, her hands scrabbling at his clothes. She made short work of the tie, jacket, and shirt, and Anakin kicked off his shoes and socks so that she could rid him of his pants as well. His boxers were the last thing to go, and as soon as they were off he reached out and pulled off her bra and panties.

Anakin was staring at her with an awestruck expression, and Padmé ducked her head, blushing and feeling oddly shy in a way she hadn’t felt with him since the first time they’d ever slept together. “It’s like you’ve never seen me naked before,” she said sarcastically to lighten the moment.

“I’ve seen my girlfriend and fiancée naked loads of times,” he replied. “But this is the first time I’ve seen my wife naked, and my wife is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

Tears sprung to Padmé’s eyes, and she beamed at him. “My husband’s not bad either,” she said, sniffling a little but laughing along with him regardless.

Anakin pulled her in for another kiss, though this one was soft and tender and content rather than hungry and desperate. Padmé tried to pour everything into that kiss, all the love she had for him and the absolute joy she felt about being married to him and the fond nostalgia for their past together and the excited hope for this new chapter of their lives. No words were spoken, but Anakin kissed her back with so much passion that she knew he was feeling the same things.

At last they drew apart, and Anakin rested his forehead against hers and wiped a tear away with his thumb. “Okay, no more crying,” he said, though there were tears in his own eyes too. “I can’t go around telling people that my wife cried on our wedding night.”

Padmé chuckled and stood on tiptoes to kiss the tears off of his cheeks. “No more crying,” she agreed. “I’ve already cried so many times today, I’m surprised I even have any tears left. Must be the pregnancy hormones.”

Grinning, Anakin pecked her on the lips and rested his hand on the tiny curve of her belly, gazing adoringly at the slight bump. “You guys better close your eyes for a little while because Mommy and Daddy are about to be very naughty,” he told the twins.

“Ani, their eyes won’t even open for months,” Padmé said, laughing.

“Well, you’d better metaphorically close your eyes, then,” Anakin amended. He bent down and planted a kiss on her stomach, then knelt in front of her and glanced mischievously up at her before grabbing her hips and leaning in.

Padmé whimpered as she felt his tongue dart out and brush against her clit, and she hastily gripped his shoulders to anchor herself. “Ani,” she sighed, feeling herself hurtling remarkably quickly towards climax as Anakin worked. They’d refrained from sex for a few weeks before the wedding in an attempt to make the wedding night extra special, and in Padmé’s opinion it was definitely working so far—and also had the added effect of making her come after only a few minutes of Anakin’s mouth on her. Her knees buckled and she clutched at his shoulders even tighter to keep herself upright, squeezing her eyes shut and gasping through the pleasure.

Anakin kissed his way back up her body, finally reaching her lips. Padmé tangled her hands in his hair and grinned against his mouth when she felt his erection digging into her; clearly she wasn’t the only one who’d been sorely missing sex during the past few weeks. She backed Anakin up towards the bed, and the backs of his knees hit the edge and he fell backwards onto it, Padmé landing on top of him.

She took the opportunity to plant little kisses all over his neck and chest and stomach. Upon reaching her intended destination, she gave him an arch look and took him in her mouth, the ragged gasp he let out sending heat between her legs all over again. It was only a few minutes before Anakin was gently pushing her away. “Need you,” he panted, pulling himself up into a sitting position and gazing at her with pupils blown wide with desire.

Padmé eagerly settled herself in his lap, straddling him and wrapping her arms around his neck. Then Anakin guided her hips towards him, and both of them moaned when she sank down. Padmé set a slow, sensual pace, Anakin rolling his own hips up to meet her movements. They stayed in the same position the whole time, wrapped in a tight embrace, their chests pressing together and hearts beating in time. Padmé let her head fall back as Anakin sucked a mark onto her collarbone, her long hair streaming down behind her. “I love you so much,” she whispered.

“Love you too,” he murmured, looking up at her with so much love in his eyes that she felt dizzy.

Padmé could feel his muscles tensing up, and a moment later he slid his left hand between her legs to push her closer to her own climax. He captured her lips in another kiss, and soon they were coming almost simultaneously, moaning into each other’s mouths and clinging onto each other for dear life as they rode out the waves of pleasure.

When it was over they rested their foreheads against each other, breathing heavily, and stayed like that for a long time, silently basking in each other’s presence and the love they felt in that moment. Eventually Padmé forced herself to stand up and Anakin reluctantly followed, though they were only apart for as long as it took them to get ready for bed. They changed into pajamas and brushed their teeth together, and then Padmé quickly scrubbed off her makeup while Anakin took off his prosthesis and carefully laid it on top of the dresser. Soon they were both climbing back into bed, and Padmé immediately nestled into his side.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy in my entire life,” she said softly after a few more quiet minutes.

“Not even when you won the presidential election?”

“Nope. Not even then.” And it was true—that had been a jubilant moment for her too, of course, but mixed into it was anxiety and trepidation about what being president would actually be like. Now, though, there wasn’t even the smallest of dark clouds to ruin Padmé’s happiness.

“It’s the happiest day of my life, too,” Anakin said. He tilted her chin up and kissed her again, and Padmé melted into the kiss, into the warm familiarity of him.

“We should go to sleep,” she said eventually. “We’re leaving early tomorrow.”

“I’m too excited to sleep,” he admitted with a small chuckle.

Padmé laughed too. “So am I. Well, I guess we can sleep on the plane. And pretend to sleep now.”

“Or…we could keep ourselves busy in other ways for the rest of the night since we’re not going to sleep,” Anakin said seductively, bringing his hand up to play with the hem of her nightgown.

It took every ounce of willpower Padmé possessed to grab his wrist and say, “No, we’d better save it for the honeymoon. We don’t want to tire ourselves out before we even get there.”

Anakin sighed regretfully, then laughed in agreement and pulled her more snugly against his chest. “Good point. Goodnight, then, Mrs. Skywalker,” he teased; he’d been fully supportive of her decision to keep her name (“‘President Amidala’ sounds way better than ‘President Skywalker’ anyway”), but many of her more conservative critics had been disapproving, much to her irritation. Funny how many complete strangers thought her personal life was any of their business.

Padmé wasn’t annoyed now, though—on the contrary, she decided then and there that Anakin was the only person she liked hearing call her Mrs. Skywalker. “Goodnight, Mr. Amidala,” she teased back, making him laugh.

Sure enough, neither of them got much sleep that night, too hopped up on wedding day adrenaline. Padmé knew she’d regret it the next day, but for now, she was lying in her new husband’s arms and she didn’t want to fall asleep and miss even a second of it.

Chapter Text

Anakin woke up and yawned, blinking to adjust to the light—judging by the sunlight streaming in from behind the curtains of the hotel room, it was fairly late in the morning. They’d been sleeping in every morning of their honeymoon; he was pretty sure this week was the first time Padmé had slept in since entering office. Or maybe since she’d been elected senator. Or since she’d graduated college. Come to think of it, Anakin genuinely had doubts that she’d relaxed a day in her life before this week.

Which was why he was especially glad they’d been able to get away for their honeymoon. They’d gone to Bermuda—tropical, beautiful, and romantic, but fairly close to DC so people wouldn’t grumble about Padmé wasting taxpayer money to go on a lavish vacation (though he was sure some would grumble anyway, seeing as Padmé could never to do anything without someone complaining). Of course Anakin had wanted a honeymoon so they could celebrate their marriage alone together for a while, but a good chunk of his motivation had also been his wish to see Padmé get some time to unwind for once, especially with the twins on the way and making her even more tired than usual.

And so he was pleased to see upon rolling over onto his side that she was still sound asleep. Anakin just watched her for a while, smiling fondly and wondering how he’d gotten so lucky. It was the last day of their honeymoon and they’d officially been married for a whole week now, but he could still hardly believe it. How far they’d come from the clandestine start of their relationship when they’d been afraid of anyone finding out.

Eventually Anakin’s desire not to waste the precious last day of their honeymoon outweighed his desire to let Padmé sleep, so he scooched closer and snuggled up against her. He started nuzzling her hair and planting light kisses all over her cheeks and forehead, amused when she slept on, entirely oblivious.

“Padmé,” he said softly. “Padmé, wake up.”

At last she started stirring and blinked her eyes open a moment later. Anakin smiled and pecked her on the lips. “Good morning, my love.”

“Morning,” she said, yawning and smiling back at him.

“I’m sorry for waking you up, but I wanted to make the most of every second of our last day.”

Padmé sighed. “Don’t remind me,” she said glumly, but then her smile returned. “And it’s all right. I can hardly think of a better way to wake up.”

Anakin leaned in for a longer kiss this time, Padmé humming appreciatively against his mouth. Then he moved down and pushed her nightgown up so he could kiss her belly. “Good morning to you too,” he told the twins. “How are you today? Are you being good to Mommy?”

“No. They’re making her whole body sore.”

“Are you sure that’s not my fault?” Anakin asked, grinning. They had exerted themselves quite strenuously the night before. And the night before that and the night before that and the night before that.

Padmé laughed. “Well, maybe,” she admitted. “You really did a number on me. I’m not sure I can even walk yet. I’ll just have to stay in bed for a while longer.”

She batted her eyes at him, and Anakin’s grin widened and he kissed her stomach one last time before moving down to brush kisses against her hips and then the inside of her thighs, making her gasp softly. “Well, lucky for you, I’ve got an idea of some things we could do until you’ve regained enough strength to make it out of bed.”

“Please, do enlighten me.”

So he did, for the rest of the morning. And quite a bit of the afternoon and evening too.


They returned to DC the next day and resumed business as usual once more, though even then, the newlywed phase continued for quite some time. Anakin was walking on a cloud, and he knew Padmé felt the same way.

They agreed to release several wedding photos to the public to allow everyone to obsess over every detail of Padmé’s dress (and to assuage the people’s disappointment that they’d had a small, private wedding rather than making it a major televised event). Padmé’s baby bump continued to grow. They told friends and family about the twins a few weeks after the wedding and announced it to the public in July—Padmé’s belly was getting harder and harder to disguise at that point, especially because she’d been so petite in the first place.

Their friends and family were all overjoyed, but public reaction was mixed, as they’d expected. Plenty of people were thrilled at the prospect of getting to look at adorable baby photos for the next few years, but there were also many who expressed concern over Padmé’s ability to run the country while pregnant. Padmé informed the people of her plans to continue her work unaffected throughout her pregnancy, to leave things in Bail’s extremely capable hands when the twins were born, and to return to work as soon as possible afterwards; most people were soothed by this, but some naysayers persisted. Anakin advised her not to pay them any mind, seeing as there were always naysayers no matter what she did and he didn’t want anyone to ruin their happiness and excitement about the twins.

Most of the gossip died down after a few weeks, and Anakin figured their personal lives would probably be able to stay more or less out of the spotlight from then until the twins were actually born. In the meantime, he and Padmé were tearing through parenting books and starting to decorate a spare bedroom across the hall from theirs as a nursery. Padmé had frequent checkups and ultrasounds, and Kix continued to assure them that she and both twins were doing great.

“I really don’t know how you do all this,” Anakin remarked in the car on the way to the National Mall one afternoon in September for Padmé’s speech in which she would officially announce she was running for reelection. “Juggling the presidency, pregnancy, and now a reelection campaign. You’re, like, Superwoman or something.”

Padmé laughed. “Not Superwoman, just a very determined regular woman with a great support system.”

“Am I included in that great support system?”

“You’re the head of it,” she said, pecking him on the cheek. “I couldn’t do any of this without you.”

“Are you kidding? Padmé, you can do literally anything, you’d get along just fine without me.”

“Okay, fine, I could do it without you, but I wouldn’t want to.” She smiled slightly. “It’s amazing to think that two and a half years ago I was living in the White House all alone and expecting it to remain that way for the next four or eight years, and now I’m working on decorating a nursery with my husband for our babies.”

Anakin smiled too, heart swelling as he remembered where he’d been two and a half years ago, a lonely Secret Service agent whose entire family was on the other side of the country and who had a hopeless crush on the most unattainable woman in the world. And now here he was, married to the love of his life and expecting twins. Life couldn’t be better. Well, maybe he’d like to spend a little less time fraternizing with politicians and being photographed wherever he went, but still. He’d never been happier.

They arrived soon afterwards and got out of the car together. A huge crowd was gathered, and they all started cheering when Padmé and Anakin came into view. They smiled and waved for a moment before Padmé approached the podium and Anakin went to sit off to the side with some members of her staff.

It was several moments before the crowd quieted down, but at last Padmé was able to speak. “Thank you all so much for coming out today,” she said, smiling as she looked out at the crowd. “I’m so excited to be here.”

Another cheer went up at that, and Padmé waited for silence before beginning her speech. Anakin watched her with rapt attention, the way her eyes sparkled with passion, the way she rested her hand on her five-month baby bump every so often as she spoke, and he felt a burst of pride that she was his wife, that out of all the billions of people on the planet, this incredible woman had chosen him.

“…and there is still so much I want to accomplish while in office, so many other ways in which I want to serve the people of this country,” Padmé was saying. “And it is for this reason that I will be running for reelection next November.” That elicited the loudest cheer yet, and Anakin smiled and applauded along with everyone else.

And then, in the midst of all the noise and chaos, a gunshot rang through the air.

Anakin was out of his seat in a flash, diving towards Padmé in an instinctive attempt to protect her. But suddenly there were a dozen people in his way, swarming her and swarming him and keeping him away from her. “Padmé!” he shouted frantically, struggling to shove Rex aside so he could reach her. “Padmé!”

“Sir, you need to get out of here!” Rex said loudly, grabbing his arm and tugging him back towards the car.

“No, no, no, I need to get to her, I need—” And then there was a gap in the flock of Secret Service agents and Anakin saw her. She was being supported by Obi-Wan and Ahsoka, her face pale and blood streaming from a wound in her shoulder. Blood, so much blood.

“Padmé!” Anakin screamed, panic clogging his throat.

But then Padmé’s security team was racing her towards the car, half-carrying her, and Anakin’s team was running along right after them with him in tow. The car took off as soon as the doors were shut, and Anakin scrambled over towards where Obi-Wan and Ahsoka were laying Padmé down across the seat.

“Support her head and keep her shoulder elevated,” Obi-Wan ordered, and Anakin obediently sat down and carefully moved Padmé so that her head was in his lap and she was propped up a little.

“Padmé,” he whispered, tears stinging his eyes.

She squinted up at him, visibly in pain, though at least she was still conscious. “Ani,” she whimpered. “Ani, it hurts.”

“I know,” Anakin said in a wobbly voice. “But you’re going to be fine, okay? You’re going to be just fine, I promise.”

Obi-Wan and Ahsoka had taken out the car’s emergency medical kit and were working on stopping the bleeding, but Anakin barely paid them any mind, too busy focusing on Padmé’s face and willing her to remain conscious. She made a pained noise and closed her eyes, and Anakin said in a panic, “Padmé, no, stay with me, stay with me!”

She opened her eyes again, a few tears slipping down her cheeks; Anakin’s tears were falling freely now, though he hardly noticed. Padmé moved her right arm—the side opposite to where she’d been shot—and held her hand out to Anakin, silently begging him for reassurance. He took it and gripped it tight, doing his best to smile encouragingly at her. He was terrified, but he didn’t want her to be.

“You’re going to be all right, Padmé,” he repeated. Maybe if he said it enough, it would be true.

A look of fear suddenly crossed her face. “Ani, the twins,” she gasped.

Anakin’s heart dropped into his stomach. “I-I’m sure they’re fine,” he said, trying not to betray how scared he was. He let go of her hand so he could rest his on her stomach, and he gave a small sob of relief when he felt a kick a minute later. “See? They’re still kicking away. They’re so well-protected in there, I’m sure they’re fine, Padmé.”

He spent the rest of the car ride moving his hand between holding hers, feeling for the twins’ kicks, and stroking her hair in a soothing gesture. His prosthetic arm hung uselessly by his side; he was afraid the cold metal would only make Padmé feel worse if he touched her with it. Anakin incessantly repeated hollow words of reassurance, partly to make them both feel better and partly because he hoped talking to her would help her stay awake.

Padmé maintained consciousness all the way to the hospital, and she was rushed out of the car and put on a waiting stretcher. Anakin followed them inside at a run, but when they reached their destination a nurse held him back as the others brought Padmé inside the room. “You can’t be in there right now, sir,” she said.

“No, please, I need to be with her,” Anakin said desperately.

“I’m sorry, sir, but you have to wait outside. The doctors need space to work.”

She spared him a quick apologetic look before following Padmé and the doctors. Anakin stood there for a long moment, and then he moved towards the door—

—and was promptly grabbed by Obi-Wan. “Anakin, you heard what she said, you need to wait here,” he said. “They’ll come find you as soon as they have news.”

Anakin allowed himself to be led out to the waiting area, which was deserted except for his and Padmé’s security teams. And then he rounded on Obi-Wan. “Where were you?” he asked, his voice shaking and deadly quiet.

“What?”

“Where? Were? You?” Anakin spat, rage settling in to replace his terror. He grabbed Obi-Wan by the shoulders and shoved him against the wall. “You were supposed to be there, you were supposed to protect her! Where the hell were you?”

Obi-Wan’s face was ashen. “I was by her side as fast as possible, Anakin.”

“Well, it wasn’t fast enough!” he yelled. “She got shot on your watch! You were supposed to—to jump in front of her, take the bullet for her! You were supposed to prevent something like this from even happening in the first place!”

“Anakin, I—”

“This would never have happened if I was still the head of her team! When you took over from me you promised you’d do just as good a job keeping her safe as I did but you didn’t, you bastard—”

“Anakin, this isn’t his fault,” Ahsoka said sharply, approaching him and laying a restraining hand on his arm. “He had no idea this was going to happen, none of us did. Obi-Wan couldn’t have personally prevented this from happening, and he did everything he could to help her in the aftermath. I know you’re scared and upset, but you can’t take it out on him like this.”

Anakin fell silent, breathing heavily and glaring at Obi-Wan. “I’m sorry,” Obi-Wan whispered, looking like he was about to cry. “I’m sorry.”

Finally Anakin let go of him and took a step back. “If anything happens to them, if—if I lose my wife and children today, I will kill you,” he said venomously, and then he whirled around and stalked over to the other side of the room and fell into one of the chairs and put his head in his hands.

Anakin didn’t know how long he waited there, fielding phone calls from family members and telling them he had no idea what was going on but would let them know as soon as he knew more, shouting at an infuriatingly impassive Director Yoda over the phone about the fact that the shooter had managed to slip past all the security present at the event, brain reeling with terrifying scenarios of his family of four suddenly becoming a family of one, refusing to talk to anyone else in the room, doing his best not to let out the sobs that were threatening to overpower him.

Eventually he heard someone settling themselves in the chair beside his, and he turned to look and saw that it was Ahsoka. Wordlessly, she reached out and wrapped her arms around him, and that was when Anakin broke down. He sobbed into her shoulder as she rubbed his back, neither of them saying a word.

“She’s going to be all right,” Ahsoka said quietly once Anakin’s tears had stopped, though he was still trembling. “She’s the strongest person I’ve ever met, she’s going to pull through. And in the car it looked like her shoulder was the only place that had been hit. That’s definitely not a fatal wound.”

“But the bullet could’ve ricocheted and damaged her lungs or her heart.”

“She seemed to be breathing just fine, and she didn’t lose all that much blood anyway. The doctors will take care of her. She’ll be fine.”

“But what if she’s not?” Anakin asked in a small, wobbly voice. “What if I lose my entire family?”

“You won’t,” Ahsoka said firmly. “You won’t.”

Anakin just sniffled and leaned against her once more.

Fifteen minutes later, he heard footsteps and then a doctor appeared in the waiting room. Anakin jumped to his feet and hurried over. “What’s going on? How is she?” he demanded, heart pounding.

The doctor smiled kindly at him. “It’s good news, sir. She’s going to be just fine,” she said, and Anakin’s body sagged in relief and he let out another small sob as relieved murmurs went around the room. “She was very lucky. The bullet entered her shoulder and got lodged there, so it wasn’t able to do damage to any internal organs. We’ve safely removed the bullet, stitched the wound up, and given her a blood transfusion, and she’s in stable condition now. She’ll be sore for a while, but otherwise no major damage was done.”

“What about the babies?” Anakin asked.

“Both unharmed. We just did an ultrasound to confirm.”

At last Anakin allowed himself to smile, tears welling up in his eyes yet again. “Can I see her now?”

The doctor nodded. “Of course, sir. Right this way, please.”

Anakin followed her to Padmé’s room. Padmé was sitting up in bed, looking pale and worn out but otherwise not too much worse for wear. He could see the edge of a bandage on her shoulder peeking out from under her hospital gown.

She gave him a tired smile as he entered. “Padmé,” he said, and then he was shooting across the room and throwing his arms around her as best he could without bumping her shoulder and bursting into tears.

“Shhh, Ani, it’s all right,” Padmé murmured, pressing a kiss to the top of his head as he buried his face in her good shoulder and cried. “I’m fine, and so are the twins. We’re all fine. Don’t cry, Ani.”

“I was so scared,” Anakin wept. “Padmé, I was so scared.”

“I know. But everything’s all right now.”

Padmé was sniffling slightly too, and they sat there holding each other and exchanging tearful reassurances for a few minutes until they’d managed to calm down a little more.

“How do you feel? Are you in a lot of pain?” Anakin said anxiously.

She shook her head. “Not right now, they gave me something for it.”

“And they’re sure the twins are okay?”

“Positive.”

Anakin started fussing over her, adjusting the bed blankets and asking how she was feeling a dozen times and making sure she had enough water to drink and flagging down a doctor to hear a full, detailed report of her condition. Then he asked them to do another ultrasound so he could see for himself that the twins were all right, and Padmé sighed at him but the doctor humored him and went to fetch an ultrasound technician.

“There they are, sir, both safe and sound,” the technician said, pointing at the screen as she adjusted the probe’s position on Padmé’s belly.

Anakin finally started to relax as he watched both twins moving around on the screen and as the technician continued describing the image to him and explaining how she could tell that they were both completely unharmed. “Okay,” he said at last, taking Padmé’s hand. “Thank you.”

“Before I go, I can also tell you the genders if you’d like,” the technician said.

“Really? You can tell already?” Padmé said, looking surprised.

“Yes, ma’am. But I won’t tell you if you’d rather it be a surprise, of course.”

Padmé looked at Anakin. “What do you think?” she asked, an undercurrent of excitement in her voice.

“Well, I’d kind of wanted it to be a surprise, but I could really use some happy news today,” he replied wryly.

Padmé chuckled and squeezed his hand before turning back to the technician. “Okay. Tell us.”

“It’s a boy and a girl,” she said, smiling at them. “Congratulations.”

Anakin gasped, and Padmé’s eyes filled with tears. “A boy and a girl,” she said softly. “A son and a daughter.”

“Our son and our daughter,” Anakin said, feeling choked up himself. He smiled broadly and leaned in to kiss Padmé on the cheek, both of them moving their hands to her belly and beaming when they felt a kick several minutes later.

After the technician left, there was a knock on the door and Obi-Wan came in. “I’m glad to see you doing well, ma’am,” he said.

Padmé smiled at him. “Thank you. And thank you for your prompt action and all your help on the way to the hospital. I might have been hurt much more seriously if you hadn’t acted so quickly.”

Obi-Wan sighed. “That’s the thing, ma’am. I wanted to apologize for not acting quickly enough. It’s my fault you got shot, I should never have allowed that to happen. Helping you in the aftermath is one thing, but you should never have gotten injured in the first place. That’s on me.”

“What are you talking about?” Padmé asked, frowning. “In what world is this possibly your fault? There was only a split second between the sound of the gunshot and the bullet hitting me, it would’ve been impossible for anyone to move fast enough to prevent it. I’ll certainly be having a talk with Director Yoda about how the shooter was able to get in the vicinity without anyone catching them, but you have nothing to apologize for, Obi-Wan.”

Anakin stared down at the floor, shame coursing through him. Now that he was confident Padmé was all right, he felt horrible for yelling at Obi-Wan the way he had. Padmé and Ahsoka were right, it wasn’t his fault. He’d done everything he could. Anakin had just been so terrified that he’d been looking for someone to blame and had taken it out on Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan cleared his throat and changed the subject. “I appreciate you saying that, ma’am. Anyway, I also wanted to let you know that they’ve apprehended the shooter, a hitman named Jango Fett. They managed to get him before he was able to flee the scene.”

Finally Anakin looked back up, his eyes widening. “A hitman?” Padmé asked. “Someone hired him?”

“Yes, ma’am. And that’s the other bit.” Obi-Wan looked grim. “He was hired by Senator Dooku.”

“What?”

“The thing about paying someone to do your dirty work is you can’t trust them to have your back when things go south. Fett had no qualms about telling the FBI that Dooku was the one who hired him, and they searched Fett’s apartment and found financial records to prove it. Dooku’s in custody as well.”

Padmé stared at him in shock, and Anakin was also numb with disbelief. He’d always hated Dooku and knew he and Padmé were fierce opponents, but he never would’ve suspected he’d go so far as to try and have her killed. Now there were two senators who had been involved in assassination plots against her. “Does this have anything to do with Clovis and the bombing?” Padmé asked, her train of thought apparently going in the same direction.

Obi-Wan shrugged. “They’re still investigating and haven’t found evidence yet that the two events were linked, but Clovis and Dooku always worked closely with each other in the Senate and were political allies, so it does seem suspicious.”

Padmé looked very troubled, and Obi-Wan once more expressed his relief that she was all right and departed. “Hey,” Anakin said gently. “I know this is bad news, but at least everyone involved has been caught so they can’t hurt you anymore.”

“Has everyone involved been caught? What if there were more people in on it than just Dooku and the hitman? What if half of Congress is trying to kill me?” she asked. Anakin was pretty sure he hadn’t seen that frightened look on her face since she’d burst into his hospital room after the bombing.

“They’re not,” he said firmly. “Most of Congress likes you, and even the few who don’t wouldn’t resort to murder to get you out of office. Clovis and Dooku were anomalies, that’s all. I know you were worried that there was someone else involved in the bombing who went uncaught, so I bet it was Dooku. I bet he was the one who orchestrated both assassination attempts, and now that he’s been caught nothing like this is ever going to happen again.”

Padmé looked unconvinced, and Anakin sighed and rested his hand on her good shoulder. “I know you’re scared. I am too,” he admitted. “But it’s all over now. Soon Dooku and Fett will be locked up and we can put all this behind us.”

After a moment, she nodded. “You’re right. I can’t let myself be cowed by this, that’s what they want. I have to show the public that I’m not afraid,” she said decisively.

Anakin pressed a tender kiss to her forehead. “Just try not to think about all of this too much,” he said, though even as he spoke he knew he wouldn’t be able to think about anything else for months. “Focus on the good news, which is that you and the twins are all okay. That’s what matters.”

Padmé nodded again and rested her hand on her baby bump. “We were so lucky,” she murmured. “Lucky that a professional hitman just happened to miss.”

Anakin hummed in agreement. “Maybe he felt guilty at the last minute and changed his aim,” he suggested.

“Guilty?”

“Well, you’d have to be pretty soulless to actually go through with murdering a pregnant woman no matter how much you’re being paid for it.”

“I suppose.”

Padmé got the all-clear from the doctors and from her security team to go home that night, and Anakin helped her get settled in bed and waited until she’d fallen asleep before going to find Obi-Wan. “Hey,” he said, feeling awkward.

Obi-Wan looked up. “Hello,” he said carefully.

“I just wanted to say, I’m really sorry for losing my temper with you at the hospital,” Anakin said, lowering his gaze as the guilt gnawed at him. “Padmé getting shot wasn’t your fault. I should never have blamed you like that, it wasn’t fair. I’m so sorry, Obi-Wan.”

“It’s all right,” Obi-Wan said at once, and Anakin looked back up at him, relieved. “You were scared, and fear makes people say things they don’t mean. But you did have a point. My job is to protect the president, and I failed her today. I’m more sorry for that than you know.”

Anakin shook his head. “I know our—your job is to jump in front of bullets for Padmé, and that’s all very well in theory, but in practice it’s almost impossible to do. I should know, seeing as I tried to jump in front of the bullet and didn’t even come close to being fast enough,” he said. “It’s not like you could’ve seen the future and predicted that someone was going to shoot her. No one had any idea this was going to happen. She doesn’t blame you and I don’t blame you, and you shouldn’t blame yourself either.”

Obi-Wan was quiet for a few moments. “Thank you for saying that,” he said at last. “Though I don’t think I’ll ever be able to entirely stop blaming myself.”

“And I’ll never be able to entirely stop blaming myself,” Anakin said with a huff of laughter. “She wasn’t hurt too badly and she’ll make a full recovery, so there’s no point dwelling on it and beating ourselves up about it.”

Obi-Wan gave him a small smile, and then to Anakin’s surprise, he reached out and pulled him into a hug. Obi-Wan never initiated hugs. “We may not be coworkers anymore,” he said after a minute, “but we’re still friends. And I hope we always will be.”

Anakin hugged him tighter. “Always.”

Chapter Text

It didn’t take long for Dooku and Jango Fett to be convicted and imprisoned; the evidence against them was overwhelming. Anakin could tell that Padmé felt much better once they were behind bars, but he was still a nervous wreck. He’d always had a tendency to be a bit overprotective even on a good day (which wasn’t helped by the fact that protecting Padmé had once literally been his career), but following this second attempt on her life, his protective instincts shot through the roof. Anakin barely left her side and made both their security teams triple check a room before she entered it; he could tell Padmé was getting annoyed with him, but he just couldn’t help it. He had come so close to losing her and the twins that day, and he’d be damned if he let anything like that happen again. When he closed his eyes, he could still see her lying in the back of the car, pale and barely conscious as blood streamed from the gunshot wound in her shoulder.

Anakin was also beginning to realize just how much danger the twins could potentially be in once they were born, something that hadn’t really sunk in until now. What if someone used them to threaten Padmé into doing something, or kidnapped them to get to her? He expressed his fears to Padmé, and he could tell they frightened her too but she was stubbornly pretending otherwise. She reminded him that the twins would be under constant supervision and would have members of their own security team stationed outside the nursery at all times. It wasn’t like a kidnapper could break into the White House. As long as Anakin and Padmé refrained from bringing them out in public too much, they’d be fine. Anakin could only hope she was right.

Several weeks after the assassination attempt, Palpatine announced his own intentions to run in the upcoming election; he also condemned Dooku and expressed his relief that Padmé hadn’t been seriously harmed, no doubt to make himself look good by behaving so charitably towards his longtime opponent and distancing himself from his longtime ally who’d just gone to jail for attempted murder. Then again, Anakin thought, Palpatine may have been Padmé’s political opponent but that didn’t mean he had any desire to see her dead. Maybe his sentiments were exaggerated to improve public image, but even so they were probably sincere at the root.

The wound in Padmé’s shoulder gradually healed, though it was still sore for a while afterwards and she couldn’t move her arm much (Anakin joked that now she knew how he felt). Once she was back on her feet, she continued working just as much as she always had, to Anakin’s consternation. As her pregnancy progressed, she got more and more exhausted and needed more and more rest, but she wasn’t making any changes in her sleeping habits or work schedule. Anakin knew she wouldn’t be pleased if he suggested she start taking time off work—she’d always been stubborn and pregnancy was making her even more so—but as the weeks passed, he grimly acknowledged that there was nothing else for it and he’d have to say something to her.

“Can we talk for a minute?” he asked one night in November when Padmé had brought some paperwork back to their room to do before bed.

Padmé glanced up at him in surprise and nodded, setting her paperwork aside. “What’s up?”

“Um…I was just thinking,” he began a little nervously. “I think you should start taking your maternity leave soon, or at least cut back on work.”

Padmé frowned at him. “Why? I’m only seven months,” she pointed out. “I already promised the people I wasn’t going on maternity leave until the last possible minute, I can’t just up and stop working two months early.”

“I know that, but the your health is more important—”

“Than the three hundred million people in this country?”

“To me, yes,” Anakin replied rather tersely. “You’ve already been through a traumatic situation with the shooting and everything, you need to rest. All this stress isn’t good for the babies. Kix said you should be taking it easy.”

“I am taking it easy,” Padmé shot back, frown deepening.

“Really? How many times have I had to drag you away from your desk because you skipped a meal to get work done? How many times have I walked into your office and found you asleep on top of your keyboard?” said Anakin. “Padmé, you’re seven months pregnant with twins, you need to be getting enough sleep and having three square meals a day.”

“I appreciate your concern,” Padmé said, tone suggesting she didn’t actually appreciate it at all, “but I’m sleeping and eating just fine, thank you. It’s my decision how much I want to work, not yours.”

“Actually, it is partially my decision, seeing as the babies are mine too,” Anakin said, his annoyance growing. “I told you, I’m worried that you overworking yourself will negatively affect them. Why won’t you just listen to me?”

“I don’t know, maybe because you’re not the boss of me,” she snapped.

“I didn’t say I was!”

“You’re trying to order me around and dictate how much work I do!”

“I’m trying to take care of our children, but you won’t let me!”

“God, you are such a drama queen!”

“No, I just think you should start caring about the twins a little more than you do right now!”

Anakin regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth. Padmé’s expression darkened, and she started nudging him over towards the door. “Well, I think you should sleep somewhere else tonight,” she said frostily.

“Padmé, wait, I’m sorry—”

“Goodnight, Anakin,” she said in a tone that brooked no argument, and she opened the door and all but shoved him outside before closing it behind her. Anakin heard the lock click shut, and he sighed and banged his head lightly on the wall.

“Everything okay?”

He looked up and saw that Ahsoka was walking towards him, looking concerned. Adi Gallia remained stationed at her post on the other end of the hall and gave him a polite nod before averting her eyes; she and Depa Billaba were the only agents who bothered to keep up formalities around Anakin since they were the only ones who hadn’t once been his coworkers.

“I’m sleeping somewhere else tonight, apparently,” Anakin said bitterly.

Ahsoka raised her eyebrows. “What did you do?”

“Why do you automatically assume it’s my fault?”

“Because you’re an idiot and it usually is. Well?”

“All I did was suggest she start working a little less for the twins’ sake because she’s stressed and not getting enough rest and it’s bad for them.”

“What else?” Ahsoka prodded.

“Uh…I may have also implied she didn’t care about them as much as she should,” Anakin mumbled.

Ahsoka sighed. “Skyguy, you dumbass.”

“I didn’t mean it, it just slipped out because I was mad!” he said defensively. “And I would’ve apologized but she kicked me out of the room before I got the chance.”

“Well, I don’t blame her,” Ahsoka said, shaking her head in exasperation. “You’d better have a hell of an apology ready tomorrow morning.”

“Trust me, I know that. But it’s not all my fault, she got way more defensive than necessary,” Anakin insisted. “I mean, it’s totally a thing that pregnant women need to eliminate stress as much as possible. It’s in all the pregnancy books, and Kix has told us so multiple times. I was in the right.”

“Yeah, but the president is the biggest workaholic I’ve ever met and you should’ve taken that into account and phrased your concerns more gently,” Ahsoka informed him. “You should’ve known she wasn’t going to like you waltzing in there and telling her to stop working two months before her due date.”

“I did know she wasn’t going to like it, and I tried to be nice about it but she got annoyed right off the bat and then things just escalated. I don’t even know how it happened, one minute we were having a civil discussion and then suddenly we were yelling.” Anakin heaved a sigh as well. “I am so sick of pregnancy hormones, Ahsoka.”

“Did you say that to her face?”

“Obviously not.”

“Good, otherwise I’d give her my gun right now and let her shoot you with it.”

Anakin cracked a smile despite himself. “I’m just worried about her, that’s all,” he said next. “I mean, with the shooting and everything…I’m just trying to make sure she and the twins are all happy and healthy.”

“Being overprotective is never a good thing, even when it’s coming from a place of love,” Ahsoka said wisely. “I’m sure she’s just as concerned about the twins’ health as you are even if she isn’t acting like a drama queen about it.”

“I’m not a drama queen,” Anakin muttered.

“You’re the biggest drama queen on the planet. Anyway, I think you should let her cool down overnight and apologize tomorrow morning. Explain that you’re not trying to control her, you’re just worried about her because you love her,” Ahsoka advised. “I’m sure she’ll understand where you’re coming from once she’s had time to think everything over, and maybe she’ll even come around about working less.”

“I guess,” Anakin said doubtfully. He bade her goodnight and headed to his old room upstairs out of habit, feeling wretched. He and Padmé had the occasional minor squabble like any couple did, but this was their first genuine argument since the days when Anakin was first recovering from the loss of his arm and had been especially short-tempered and irritable. Much like third-trimester-with-twins Padmé was now, not that he would have dared to say so to her face.

He spent ages planning out what to say in his apology, and when he finally did drift off, he slept fitfully. Early in the pregnancy Anakin would have a nightmare about something happening to Padmé or the twins every once in a great while, but they’d become a hundred times more frequent following the shooting. He dreamed he was back in the hospital, and the doctor came out and told him she was sorry but Padmé and the twins didn’t make it, and then he was going into the hospital room and she was lying there cold and lifeless, and he felt only stillness under his hand when he rested it on her belly.

Anakin woke with a start, gasping and sweating, and he instinctively reached out for Padmé beside him only to be met with empty space and the memory of their argument. He sternly reminded himself that she and the twins were just fine and tried to calm himself down enough to go back to sleep, but he couldn’t manage it. At last Anakin gave up and threw off the covers, then shuffled back downstairs still in his pajamas.

Ahsoka and Adi were still there, which he took to mean that he’d only been asleep for a few hours. They both looked surprised to see him. “What are you doing?” Ahsoka whispered, and Anakin just shrugged and knocked softly on the bedroom door.

Several long minutes passed and he was just about to go back upstairs when Padmé opened the door, her hair a rat’s nest. “Anakin,” she said, her tone too sleepy to really count as disapproving.

She reached up to rub the sleep from her eyes, and Anakin suddenly felt like an idiot. He’d just been berating her for not getting enough sleep, and now here he was waking her up in the middle of the night because he’d had a nightmare and couldn’t handle it, as if he was a child. “Never mind,” he muttered. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have bothered you.”

But Padmé continued to look at him, waiting for an explanation, and at last he elaborated. “Nightmare,” he said, embarrassment creeping into his voice. “But it’s stupid, I shouldn’t have woken you up just for—”

“What about?” she asked.

Anakin shivered a little, missing the warmth of his bed, and crossed his arms (or tried to, but then realized he’d left his prosthesis upstairs). “Same as always,” he said. “You and the twins dying that day.”

Padmé gazed at him for a moment, and then she reached out and pulled him into her arms. Anakin let out a shaky breath and leaned into the embrace, already feeling soothed by merely her presence. He unconsciously dropped his hand to rub her belly, relaxing even more when he felt a kick after a minute or two.

“Come on, let’s go to bed,” Padmé murmured eventually, pulling away ever so slightly.

“I left my arm upstairs,” Anakin said in a half-hearted attempt to remind her that she was angry with him and didn’t want him sleeping with her.

“You can get it in the morning,” she said, tugging him into the bedroom and shutting the door.

They both climbed into bed, and Anakin was relieved when Padmé snuggled up against him. Hopefully that meant she was no longer especially upset, but even so he started to say, “Padmé, I’m sorry about—”

“Shhh, we’ll talk in the morning,” she said, gentle but firm. “Let’s just go to sleep, okay?”

“Okay,” Anakin mumbled, already feeling himself starting to doze off as her warmth washed over him.

When he woke up for good the next morning, sunlight was streaming through the curtains and Padmé was still lying beside him, though she was awake. “What time is it?” he asked, stretching.

“A little after nine.”

“Don’t you have to be at a meeting or something?”

“I decided to take the day off,” Padmé said simply.

“Oh,” Anakin said, surprised. “You didn’t have to do that.”

“I wanted to. It’s been a long time since we’ve spent time together, just the two of us, and I think we need to.”

Anakin couldn’t argue that, so he just gave her a hesitant smile and gently tucked a stray curl behind her ear. “I’m really, really sorry for what I said last night,” he said softly. “I should never have said you didn’t care about the twins enough, that was horrible. I know you care about them so much and that you’re doing everything you can to be the best mom ever for them. It was just one of those things you say in the heat of the moment because you’re angry. I swear to you, I didn’t mean it at all.”

Padmé returned his smile to show that he was forgiven. “And I’m sorry for being unreasonable,” she replied. “You were right, I do need to start taking it easy and working less. I just didn’t want to admit it, so I got defensive when you said so. I shouldn’t have yelled at you.”

“I shouldn’t have tried to tell you what you can and can’t do.”

“You didn’t, you were just sharing your opinion and I bit your head off.”

Rather than thinking of another thing to blame himself for, Anakin said hopefully, “So…are we not mad at each other anymore?”

Padmé chuckled and kissed him on the nose. “No, we’re not,” she said, and he sighed in relief. “But I do have to say, I don’t like when you get overprotective of me. I understand why you do because of the shooting and all, but it’s kind of suffocating, having you worrying about me constantly like this.”

“I know,” Anakin said sheepishly. “I’m sorry. I’m trying to work on that, I really am, but I just—I love you so much, Padmé, and I’m so, so scared of losing you, and the twins. I mean, I literally have nightmares about it. You three are my entire world, and I have no idea what I would do if something happened to you.”

“I get it. And I’m not going to lie, I’ve gotten a lot more scared about something happening to the twins too after the shooting,” she confessed. “But we can’t let our fears overwhelm us. You were saying last night I need to lower my stress levels, right? Well, so do you. We both need to relax and trust our security to do their jobs, and feel happy and excited about the twins instead of scared. We’re about to be parents, Ani. This is supposed to be a happy time.”

Anakin nodded in agreement. “You’re right. I’ll try not to be so on edge all the time.”

“And I’ll try not to work myself so hard,” Padmé promised.

Anakin pecked her on the lips, then scooched down the bed a little so he could rest his head on her baby bump. He couldn’t really hear anything, but he did feel a kick against his ear eventually and he laughed. “Hey, you two,” he said, turning his head slightly to press a kiss on the spot where he’d felt the kick. “How are you doing in there?”

“They’re glad Mommy and Daddy stopped arguing,” Padmé said, smiling and resting her hand on her stomach next to his head.

“So am I,” said Anakin. “I know we were only in a fight for, like, three hours, but it sucked and I hated it.”

“Me too. Fighting with you is the worst.” Padmé started absently playing with his hair, and he nuzzled into the touch. Letting go of his anxieties over her and the babies was easy to do when he felt as utterly content as he did in that moment.

“So what are we going to do today?” Anakin asked after several peaceful minutes.

“Hmm, good question. I am kind of feeling in the mood for some make-up sex,” she suggested.

“Now that’s what I call starting the day off with a bang,” Anakin said, grinning as he looked up just in time to catch Padmé’s eyeroll.

“Your puns are the worst,” she said.

“They’re not puns, they’re dad jokes. I’m practicing.”

“You’d better not tell any dad jokes about our sex life to the twins, they’ll be traumatized.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s true,” Anakin said, laughing. “Anyway, I’m totally down for make-up sex, and then maybe we can go through our name lists some more?”

“Oh, good idea, I keep meaning for us to do that,” Padmé said. “And after that, how about we work on the nursery?” There were a dozen White House staff members who’d offered to decorate the nursery for them, but Padmé and Anakin had been adamant that they wanted to do the entire thing themselves. Thus far they’d painted the walls a soft shade of yellow and had set up the cribs, but otherwise the room was still pretty bare.

Anakin smiled and kissed her belly again. “Sounds like the makings of a perfect day.”


True to her word, Padmé did gradually start lightening her workload during the last two months of her pregnancy. She didn’t like it because it made her feel like she was admitting she couldn’t do everything, like she wasn’t capable enough, but Anakin reminded her time and again that she currently had two nearly full-grown babies inside her and it was perfectly reasonable for her to need more rest than she used to.

Nevertheless, Padmé was planning to continue working to some extent right up until the twins were born, which was why she was sitting in a cabinet meeting one morning in mid-January, thirty-seven weeks pregnant and sick of it. Her baby bump was huge, and she was constantly achy and exhausted and her back hurt and the twins kept kicking her and jumping up and down on her bladder while she was trying to sleep. Logically, Padmé knew she’d be even busier once they were actually born, but she couldn’t help but wish they’d hurry up and get out of her body.

“You look like you’re ready to pop,” Satine said sympathetically as they waited for everyone to arrive.

Padmé groaned. “I feel ready to pop. I swear to God, if they’re not born within the next week I’m going to the hospital and forcing them to induce labor,” she said, and Satine laughed. The babies weren’t actually due until the end of the month, but Kix and the pregnancy books had told them that twins were often born a few weeks early, so Padmé and Anakin were currently on high alert.

Her statement turned out to be incredibly ironic, seeing as she started feeling cramps not even ten minutes into the meeting. Padmé tried to ignore them at first, figuring it was more false contractions as her body practiced for labor, but as the minutes dragged on and the cramps only increased in intensity, she was forced to acknowledge with no small amount of panic that this might actually be the real thing.

“Padmé, are you all right?” Bail asked in concern when a particularly painful one made her grimace and clutch the edge of the table for support.

“Fine,” Padmé lied. The meeting was only another forty-five minutes or so, she could make it through to the end. “Sorry, keep going.”

Bail looked doubtful but obligingly continued what he’d been saying before. Padmé did her best to hide her pained winces as the meeting progressed, though if the frequent alarmed looks from her colleagues were anything to go by, she wasn’t very successful.

“Are you sure you don’t want to go see Kix?” Satine said when Padmé let out an audible whimper. “We can continue without you, it’s not a problem.”

“No, no, I’m fine,” Padmé insisted stubbornly.

A few minutes later there was a knock on the door, and Anakin walked in. “Sorry to interrupt,” he said before hurrying over to Padmé’s end of the table and crouching down beside her.

“What are you doing here?” she hissed under her breath as the rest of the cabinet pretended not to be listening.

“Satine texted Obi-Wan who called Rex who told me that you’re in labor?” Anakin said, looking anxious.

Padmé turned to glare at Satine, who shrugged innocently. “Look, the meeting’s only another twenty minutes, I’ll be fine,” she said to Anakin.

“You mean you actually are in labor?!” he yelped, gaping at her. “What the hell are you doing still sitting here?”

“Oh, come on, it’s not like the babies are going to pop out right this second, I have plenty of time.”

“You absolutely do not, we’re going to find Kix right now and then you’re going to rest in our room until it’s time to go to the hospital. And that’s final, no arguing,” Anakin said as she opened her mouth to protest. “Come on.”

He grabbed Padmé’s arm and tugged her out of her chair, and she reluctantly let him, gripping his hand and digging her nails into his skin when another contraction hit. She took a moment to recover, then turned to the cabinet. “I’m so sorry, but I think I’m in labor so I’m going to have to leave the meeting,” she said. “Please keep going and feel free to call me if you need my input on anything.”

“Please do not call her,” Anakin said, pulling her towards the door.

“Unless it’s an emergency.”

“Please do not call her under any circumstances, not even for the damn apocalypse.”

“We won’t, I’ve got everything covered,” Bail promised. “Good luck, Padmé!”

The others all echoed him as Anakin finally succeeded in dragging Padmé out the door. “I don’t see why you couldn’t have just let me stay another twenty minutes,” she complained.

“All right, well, I’m sure your concentration levels weren’t exactly at their best anyway seeing as you’re literally in labor,” Anakin pointed out.

Padmé huffed. “I was concentrating perfectly well.”

“Yeah, okay.” Anakin stopped walking and gripped her shoulders, looking seriously at her. “Repeat after me. I will not think about politics while I’m in labor, I will not stress myself out even more than necessary, I will allow myself time to recover before going back to work, and I will not overwork myself by trying to take care of two newborns and an entire country at the same time.”

Padmé rolled her eyes but repeated his words. Looking satisfied, Anakin leaned in and gave her a peck on the lips. “Now, let’s get you upstairs and settled in bed so we can wait for our babies to come, all right?”

“Okay.”


Padmé awoke to the sight of Anakin sitting beside her hospital bed and cradling their newborn daughter in his arms, his eyes still swimming with tears, even now after…Padmé realized she didn’t actually know how long it had been since the twins were born. “How long was I asleep?” she said blearily.

Anakin turned to look at her, smiling. “A few hours,” he said. “I’m surprised you didn’t sleep longer, actually, you must be exhausted.”

Indeed, Padmé was still pretty exhausted, but she was too busy leaning over and taking their son out of his bassinet to notice or care. He made a few soft snuffling noises and blinked up at her with Anakin’s blue eyes. Padmé felt her own eyes tear up again, and she bent down to plant a kiss on his tiny forehead, his tiny nose, his tiny cheeks.

When the twins had come into the world they’d been red-faced and wailing and covered in all sorts of substances whose identities Padmé would really rather not know, and they were the most beautiful things she’d ever seen. Now they were clean and quiet, and Padmé was just as overwhelmed with emotion as she had been immediately following their birth.

She glanced over and saw that though their son was awake, their daughter was sound asleep. “Have they been sleeping the whole time?” she asked.

Anakin shook his head. “They were both awake for a while, and then he fell asleep and then she fell asleep and then he woke back up. They must’ve made a pact in the womb to sleep in shifts so that they can make us get out of bed in the middle of the night when they cry as often as possible.”

Padmé laughed and bounced the baby in her arms up and down, making him gurgle happily. “So,” she said a minute later, “what are you thinking about names?”

“I still like the ones we picked out before, if you do,” Anakin said.

Padmé looked back and forth between the twins, mulling it over and trying to decide whether the pre-picked names fit them or not. At last she smiled and nodded in agreement. “Luke and Leia Skywalker,” she said. “Perfect.”

They’d had a bit of trouble deciding which last name to use—Anakin had insisted they should do some sort of hyphenation, but Padmé had pointed out that using Amidala wouldn’t make sense since that wasn’t her real last name and using Naberrie wouldn’t make sense since she herself no longer went by it. So eventually they’d settled on just Skywalker, which Padmé didn’t mind at all (she’d had to reassure Anakin on that account countless times). Sola’s husband and daughters had all taken the Naberrie name whereas Anakin and Shmi were the only Skywalkers left, so to Padmé it made sense to give the twins Anakin’s name since her nieces already had hers.

And on a deeper level too, she was glad to give Anakin this. He’d had to give up the job he loved and become First Gentleman and spend his time doing things he didn’t want to do and talking to people he couldn’t stand, but he’d done it all with hardly a word of complaint because he loved Padmé. They lived in her world, not his, and probably would for the rest of their lives, so Padmé was proud to pass this one little piece of Anakin’s identity onto the twins who would forever be known as President Amidala’s children.

Padmé shifted Luke into one arm and turned to Anakin. “I want to hold Leia again.”

“So you get to hog both of them at the same time? Not fair,” he said, grinning.

“Well, you got them both all to yourself the whole time I was asleep, so…”

Anakin chuckled and carefully placed Leia into the crook of her free arm. She stirred a little but didn’t wake up. Padmé gazed down at both twins in awe, hardly able to believe that they were hers, that she and Anakin had made them. She wondered what they’d look like when they grew up. Now they looked alike, but most babies did. Would they look alike as they got older? Or would one look like Anakin and one like her? Or would neither of them look especially like either parent? Luke did have Anakin’s eyes, and Padmé remembered that before she’d fallen asleep she’d noticed Leia had brown eyes like her. Would their eye color be the only difference in their appearance, or would they look so dissimilar that people would be surprised they were twins?

Anakin scooched his chair closer to the hospital bed so that he could put his prosthetic arm around Padmé and use the other to cradle the twins with her. He rested his chin on her shoulder, and they both sat there smiling down at Luke and Leia for a while. “They’re so beautiful,” Padmé said softly.

Anakin hummed in agreement and kissed her on the cheek. “Just like their mother.”

She blushed a little and laughed. “I’m sure I must look like a mess right now.” It hadn’t occurred to her to wonder what she looked like up until that point, and now she definitely didn’t want to know.

“You don’t look like a mess. You look like an angel.”

“A sweaty gross angel with frizzy hair who’s in extreme need of a shower.”

“An angel, full stop.”

Padmé smiled and watched as Luke let out a little yawn while Leia’s arm flailed in her sleep. Anakin moved his left hand to trace over Leia’s tiny fingers, then Luke’s, with his much bigger one. The expression on his face, a mix of wonder and adoration, made Padmé feel like her heart was about to burst. “I love you so much, Ani,” she said, a little choked up.

Anakin beamed at her and reached up to rest his hand on her cheek, then leaned in for a long, slow kiss. “I love you so much too.”

Chapter Text

“Come on, what do you need?” Anakin said desperately as Luke continued wailing. “You don’t need a diaper change, you’re not tired because you just took a nap, and you’re not hungry because Mommy just fed you. What’s the problem, Luke?”

But Luke, being six weeks old, said nothing in reply, leaving Anakin to rack his brains for something he could’ve overlooked.

“Everything going okay?”

He looked up and saw that Padmé had appeared in the doorway to the nursery, apparently having just gotten back from her meeting with Bail. Despite Anakin’s best attempts to dissuade her, she was still meeting with Bail every day of her maternity leave to catch up on the goings-on of the political world. To his credit, Bail did always try to send her back to her room to rest, but he had little success with that seeing as Padmé was probably the most stubborn person Anakin had ever met.

“No,” he said glumly. “Luke won’t stop crying. I’ve tried everything.”

Padmé crossed the room and gently took Luke from Anakin’s arms, and he settled down after only a minute or two. Anakin frowned. “What the he–eck?” he corrected himself at the last second, seeing Padmé’s warning glance about swearing in front of the twins. “How’d you do that?”

Padmé shrugged. “Who knows? Babies cry about anything and everything.”

“But he was wailing for five minutes while I was holding him and suddenly was fine once you picked him up.”

“I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.”

But Anakin was starting to have an idea. An idea that had been occurring to him more and more over the past couple weeks, though it was so painful that he always dismissed it. “Let me try something,” he said.

As Padmé watched in bemusement, he took Luke back from her. Luke started crying once more, but again, he stopped when Anakin gave him back to Padmé. Then Anakin picked up Leia, who was lying happily in her crib, and she started crying—but stopped when Anakin passed her over to Padmé. A sinking feeling in his stomach, Anakin reached out and touched both twins with his left hand. No effect. He reached out and touched them with his prosthetic hand. Little distressed noises, though not full-out sobs.

Now Anakin was blinking back tears of his own. “They don’t like my hand,” he said quietly, his chest painfully tight. “That’s why they keep crying when I touch them with it.” It had taken him so long to adjust to the prosthesis. He’d spent months hating how he looked without his arm, then more months hating how he looked with the prosthesis, and now that he’d finally made his peace with it, his own children couldn’t stand to be touched by it. Because it was unnatural, inhuman, wrong.

Padmé sighed and hurriedly put the twins back in their cribs, then came back over and wrapped her arms around Anakin. “You don’t know that’s what they’re crying about,” she said in a feeble attempt to comfort him.

Anakin shook his head. “You saw it as well as I did, there’s no way that’s not what it is.”

She pulled back and rested her hands on his shoulders, looking him squarely in the eye. “Listen to me,” she said gently. “Your hand is made of metal and it’s cold. It surprises the twins when it touches them, that’s all. You know infants are so much more sensitive to cold than we are. They don’t dislike it, they’re just surprised because it feels different than other hands.”

Anakin sniffled. “They hate it. They hate me.”

“Ani, don’t be ridiculous,” Padmé said firmly. “You’re their dad. They adore you. In time they’ll start getting used to your hand. They’ll start to understand that it’s a part of you. And they’ll love it because they love you.”

Anakin glared down at his right hand. He’d almost stopped noticing it, and now suddenly it bothered him just as much as it had at the very beginning. How he wished he could be whole again, could hold his wife and children with two real arms.

Seeming to see some of this on his face, Padmé moved her hands up from his shoulders to cup his face. “Anakin, having a prosthetic arm doesn’t make you a worse dad,” she said. “You are the best dad Luke and Leia could ever ask for. I’m so, so grateful that you’re their father, and I know they will be too once they’re old enough to understand how lucky they are to have the best dad in the entire world.”

At last Anakin cracked a tiny smile, and Padmé leaned up to peck him on the lips. “I just wish I could be normal again,” he said softly.

“I’m the president of the United States, you’re my former bodyguard, and we live in the White House. There is not one single thing about our lives or our family that is ‘normal,’ and that’s okay,” Padmé said. “Normal is overrated.”

Anakin let out a small huff of laughter; he had to admit she had a point. He hesitantly approached Luke’s crib once more and reached down to touch him with his left hand. Luke grabbed onto his finger and then, to Anakin’s amazement, beamed up at him. Anakin gasped. “Padmé, look!” he said, choked up. “He just smiled at me!”

Padmé hurried over to look, managing to catch Luke’s smile before it disappeared, and she laughed in delight. “See? His first ever real smile was at his dad, who he loves very much,” she said, kissing Anakin on the cheek. Anakin finally started to feel better. Padmé was right. The twins cried because the metal hand was cold and unexpected, and that was all there was to it.

And sure enough, Luke and Leia gradually cried about Anakin’s arm less and less until they stopped altogether, and then as the weeks and months continued to fly by, they started getting fascinated by the mechanical hand and would always grab excitedly at it with their chubby little fingers whenever it was within their reach. Anakin was too relieved about that to be annoyed whenever he had to fiddle around with the wiring because they’d accidentally pulled something loose while playing with it.

The Naberries and Skywalker-Larses all came to visit for a while shortly after the twins were born, and the two newest members of the family were cooed over and doted on by everyone. Luke and Leia were also adored by the White House staff (Anakin often joked that it was like they had a hundred extra aunts and uncles). They were too young now to be aware of this, of course, but Anakin knew it would only be a couple years before they were running the place and getting away with everything because they had everyone wrapped around their little fingers.

That is, assuming Padmé won the election and the four of them stayed in the White House for four more years. She kept saying she didn’t want to get too cocky, but Anakin was very confident that she was going to win. People did grumble a bit about her maternity leave, but she returned to her full work schedule quite soon (too soon, in Anakin’s opinion) and most people’s irritation was forgotten in favor of gushing over how adorable Luke and Leia were. They had most of the country wrapped around their little fingers too.

They celebrated Padmé’s thirty-ninth birthday in the end of June, and soon afterwards election season began in earnest. By that point she and Palpatine had been officially nominated as the Democratic and Republican candidates respectively, not that anyone had doubted they would be. Padmé complained that she felt like she was living the previous election all over again. Anakin could certainly see where she was coming from, but for him, being actively involved in the campaign as opposed to merely a voter like anyone else made it a totally different experience. Rather a worse one, frankly; he had to go to so many events and smile and wave and be photographed and interviewed, it made his head spin.

They tried to leave the twins home as often as possible, the shooting during Padmé’s reelection speech weighing heavily on their minds, though they did sometimes have to bring them out in public to provide cute family photos that would further endear them all to the voters. Anakin was astonished by how many articles expressed the desire to see Padmé reelected not because they favored her policies, but because they wanted to see her adorable family in the White House for four more years.

“At least my current image as a warm motherly figure is more appealing than in the last election when I was a cold spinster career woman,” Padmé said dryly, making Anakin snort and roll his eyes. All things considered, he just wanted the election to be over and done with so they could get back to their normal routine.

Luke and Leia were growing faster and faster every day, and by October they were cherubic nine-month-olds who were crawling with confidence and babbling nonstop, though they had yet to say any real words. They often seemed to be talking to each other in their own secret language, but Anakin had no idea if they could actually understand each other or if one twin’s noises sounded just as nonsensical to the other twin as they did to everyone else.

He was in the nursery one evening, holding Leia’s hands and helping her wobble around the room on two legs while Luke sat happily playing with blocks. “Do you wanna try it on your own now?” Anakin asked her. He let go and took a step back, and she just flopped down to a sitting position and stared at him as if to say, Do you really expect me to be able to walk all by myself?

Anakin laughed. “I guess you’re still pretty young to be walking,” he agreed, and he sat down beside her and started tickling her instead, making her shriek with laughter.

A minute later he heard the door open and turned to smile at Padmé as she entered. Then:

“Mama!”

It was Luke who had spoken, and both parents gasped. At first Anakin thought it might have been a coincidence, but Luke was staring right at Padmé and seemed to have made the connection that she was Mama. A second later they unfroze and Padmé hurried over and swept Luke up into her arms, kissing his cheeks and exclaiming and praising him. Anakin went over too and kissed Luke as well, saying, “Luke, your first word! Where’s Mama?”

Luke just giggled and grabbed at Padmé’s necklace and babbled incomprehensibly, not seeming interested in repeating the feat. A moment later Anakin felt someone tugging on his pants, and he looked down and saw Leia looking miffed at being left out. He laughed and picked her up, giving her a kiss and tickling her again.

“I can’t believe he said his first word,” Padmé said, looking misty-eyed. “Oh, they’re growing up so fast.”

“Don’t I know it,” Anakin said, half-proud, half-wistful.

They played with the twins for only a little longer before feeding them and beginning the bedtime routine, and soon Luke and Leia were sound asleep and Anakin and Padmé were tiptoeing back to their own room. Then they started getting ready for a party Padmé was hosting that evening; she’d even invited Palpatine as a gesture of goodwill and he’d accepted, also as a gesture of goodwill. But aside from that, it was for once merely a social gathering without any ulterior political motive (or at least, if there was an ulterior motive Padmé hadn’t shared it with Anakin).

The party was packed—it seemed like most of Congress was there. Anakin was getting a little better at socializing on his own without spending the whole time trailing after Padmé and using her as a shield to defend himself from conversation with politicians, so he found himself left to his own devices for the most part. He had a good strategy, though: ramble on about Luke and Leia until the other person got bored and politely excused themselves, then move on to talk to someone else and repeat. It was foolproof.

Anakin was in the middle of telling Bail and Breha all about Luke’s first word (because they actually cared, not because he was trying to get rid of them) when Padmé came over. She practically draped herself over him and kissed him square on the lips. Anakin was startled but pleased; though Padmé was just as openly affectionate as he was in private, she usually toned it down in public to avoid causing a scene and appearing undignified.

She pulled back and smiled at him. “Hi, Ani,” she said, her words ever so slightly slurred.

Anakin narrowed his eyes. “Are you drunk?”

“No.”

“You totally are.”

“I’m just a little buzzed,” Padmé insisted as the Organas snickered. “I only had a few drinks.”

“I think a few drinks would be enough to get you past ‘a little buzzed,’” Anakin pointed out.

“Nuh-uh. I’m not a lightweight like you.”

He huffed and the Organas laughed even louder. “Okay, rude.”

“Anakin was just telling us about Luke saying his first word,” Bail said, changing the subject. “You must be very proud that it was Mama, Padmé.”

“Oh, very proud,” Padmé agreed, beaming. “Though I think Anakin was jealous.”

“Leia’s had better be Dada or else we’re going to have some problems,” Anakin said, making the others chuckle.

All four chatted for a little while before Padmé said abruptly, “Anyway, I wanted to steal my husband for a bit, I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not at all,” said Breha. “You two have a good evening. And you’d better keep her away from the wine,” she added to Anakin, who grinned.

Padmé led him through the crowded room and out into the hall. “Are you allowed to leave the party already?” Anakin asked.

“It’s my party, I can leave whenever I want.”

“Shouldn’t you at least announce that you’re leaving?”

“No. I hate having to announce my entrances and exits all the time, it’s ridiculous. Everyone doesn’t have to be informed of where I’m going every minute of every day.”

Anakin couldn’t argue that, so he gamely allowed her to take his hand and tug him away; there were so many people at the party and the room so crowded that hardly anyone seemed to notice the pair of them quietly sneaking out.

Except for their respective security agents, three for each of them currently on duty, who trailed after them until Padmé suddenly turned around and said loudly, “For God’s sake, will you just back off? Kinda hard to find a storage closet to make out with my husband in when there’s a whole parade following us.”

The agents looked alarmed, and Anakin had to stifle a laugh. “Sorry, she’s a little drunk,” he said.

“Am not.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but we really shouldn’t leave you for any reason,” Obi-Wan said apologetically.

Padmé drew herself up to her full height, which was still quite short, and said, “I am the President of the United States, and I order you to stop following us and give us some space this instant.”

This time Anakin couldn’t stop a tiny snort of laughter from escaping. Obi-Wan looked like he was having a serious internal struggle, but at last he grudgingly said, “Yes, ma’am.”

“Come on, we’re perfectly safe in our own home,” Anakin told him, trying not to roll his eyes. “And you forget I have Secret Service training too, if an assassin somehow materializes in the middle of our private rooms I’m sure I’d be able to take him.”

“It’s not a joke, Anakin,” Obi-Wan muttered, though he and the others obligingly stayed put as Padmé led Anakin onwards.

“Did we shake them off?” Padmé said in a loud whisper once they’d gone upstairs.

“Yeah, you yelling at them took care of that.” The hallway was deserted, so Anakin wrapped his arms around her and kissed her deeply. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you pull rank like that before,” he murmured. “Not gonna lie, it was pretty hot.”

Padmé raised an eyebrow, a rather wicked glint in her eyes. “Is that so, Agent Skywalker?”

Anakin groaned softly. “It is, Madam President,” he said, then leaned in and crushed his lips to her own once more.

“This is very inappropriate, Agent Skywalker,” Padmé said with a little gasp as Anakin moved down to kiss her neck. “I should fire you for this.”

“Actually, you really wouldn’t have the power to fire one of your agents, only Mace can—”

“For God’s sake, Ani, can you just play along?”

“Sorry. Yes. Wait, but before we go any further, are you sure you want to roleplay as yourself? How is that sexy for you?”

Padmé shrugged. “I always kinda fantasized about, like, playing around with the power dynamic when we were still president and bodyguard, but I never said anything at the time ’cause we hadn’t been together that long and I didn’t want to weird you out,” she said frankly.

“Oh,” Anakin said, his throat feeling dry. “What would you say if I told you I sometimes fantasized about you riding me on top of your desk and making me call you ‘ma’am’?”

She let out a breath, and the way their chests were pressed together allowed Anakin to feel her heartbeat speed up a little. “I would say that you’re going to have lots of fun tonight,” she said with a predatory smile.

Anakin grinned back and dove in for another kiss. “You won’t fire me,” he said, slipping back into the game.

“Why not?”

“Because if you do, I’ll go to the press and tell them all about the way you were screaming my name last night.”

“Hmm,” Padmé said, running her finger back and forth across his belt but not making any move to take it off. “It seems you’ve got me in quite a compromising position.”

“I have,” Anakin said smugly.

“I guess I’ll have to do you a favor to make sure you don’t tell anyone.”

He swallowed. “That would, uh, that would be nice.”

Padmé rolled her eyes. “You’re not very good at dirty talk, are you, Agent Skywalker?”

“No, I’m not,” Anakin said sheepishly; Padmé was the only partner he’d ever been brave enough to try it with, and they’d both quickly learned that it wasn’t his strong suit. He’d been very embarrassed the first time, but Padmé had just giggled and said it was adorable.

“Well, lucky for you I’m a skilled politician and public speaker,” she said. “You know what that means?”

“What?”

She leaned in close and whispered in his ear, “It means I’m very good with my tongue.”

Anakin was having some trouble breathing. “Can we take this somewhere more private?” he managed after a second.

Padmé laughed. “Sure. My office is probably not a good idea with a party going on, so we won’t be able to fulfill your whole fantasy.”

“That’s okay. Any lockable room with a flat surface will do just fine,” Anakin said, grabbing her hand and tugging her away from the wall.

They hurried down the hallway and turned the corner into the next one and stopped short when they saw what awaited them. There were always a couple agents stationed outside the twins’ room, but the two currently on duty were lying in a crumpled heap outside the door, unconscious. Unconscious or dead.

Anakin turned to look at Padmé, panic clogging his throat, and saw that she looked equally panicked, all traces of intoxication and flirtiness gone from her face. Without a word, they both sprinted the rest of the way, skidding to a halt in front of the door to the nursery. Anakin was too focused on getting to Luke and Leia to even stop and check if the agents were alive or dead, and he burst inside the room with Padmé in tow.

“Ah, there you are. I was beginning to worry you weren’t going to bother checking on your children before you went to bed, but I see now that you are indeed as vigilant of parents as I’d thought you were.”

There, standing in between the two cribs, was Palpatine.

And he had a gun.

Chapter Text

On instinct Padmé started running towards the cribs, but she’d only taken a few steps when Palpatine raised the gun and pointed it at her. Anakin grabbed her arm and pulled her behind him, putting himself between her and the gun. “Get away from our children,” Padmé said, trying to sound fierce though her voice came out shaky.

To her surprise, Palpatine did. “You needn’t worry, they’re perfectly unharmed,” he said as he walked to the other side of the room, Anakin and Padmé swiveling too so that they wouldn’t have their backs to him. “What kind of monster do you think I am that I’d attack a pair of babies?”

“The kind of monster who’d shoot a pregnant woman and kill innocent bystanders in an explosion,” Anakin snapped. “Because you were behind those attacks, weren’t you?”

Palpatine chuckled. “Oh, very clever, Anakin. Yes, that was me, though in my defense the shooting was organized by Dooku at my request. The timing is on him; I certainly wouldn’t have chosen to assassinate Padmé while she was pregnant.” Bullshit, thought Padmé. “As for the explosion, the innocent bystanders were an unfortunate necessity.”

Padmé clenched her jaw. He was speaking as if the people who had been killed were disposable, just inconveniences in the way of getting to her. “So, what, you got tired of your lackeys messing up and decided to just finish the job yourself?” she asked.

“Precisely,” Palpatine replied calmly. “Clovis is a fool, but I’d expected a professional criminal like Zam Wesell to make up for his incompetence. And it’s too bad that our hitman Jango Fett decided to develop a moral compass at the last minute and aim for your shoulder instead of your heart, but that’s what happens when you rely on other people to do something you should have done yourself in the first place.”

Padmé could hardly process what was happening. She’d always known Palpatine hated her, but she never could’ve imagined he’d been the one behind all the assassination attempts. She’d always known he played dirty, but she never could’ve imagined he’d resort to murder to win the election. “It’s been over a year since the last assassination attempt,” she observed, wanting to keep him talking for as long as possible in the vain hope that someone would come to their aid. “I assume you decided to wait until just before the election so that the Democratic Party would have to scramble to find a new candidate to replace me, someone who’d no doubt be relatively unknown and would have no chance of winning since they were coming to it this late in the game, so you’d win in a landslide?”

“That’s right,” Palpatine said pleasantly. “It’s a shame it has to be this way, but you’re tracking ahead in all the polls and if I lose two elections in a row my chance at the White House will be lost forever.” Then he cocked the gun, making Padmé and Anakin jump. “Now, that’s enough chitchat. Let’s get this over with, shall we? I do hate drawing things out.”

Padmé wondered why he hadn’t just shot her the second she walked through the door; maybe he couldn’t resist the chance to gloat a little before killing her. Making sure she knew he was the one who’d been plotting against her the whole time and had finally outsmarted her. “You’ll have to kill me first,” Anakin said staunchly.

“Ani, no, it’s me he wants,” Padmé said, desperately trying to shove him aside, though he was far bigger and stronger than her and wouldn’t budge.

“An admirable sentiment, Anakin, but killing you first was always the plan,” Palpatine said. “I can’t have you getting out of here alive and telling everyone what happened, can I?”

Padmé started to cry. She hated herself for it, hated looking weak in front of Palpatine like he wanted her to, but she couldn’t help it. It was starting to sink in that she was really, truly about to die, and so was Anakin. There was no way out of this. Why had she sent their bodyguards away? She was such an idiot. Then again, if they’d come in the room with them Palpatine probably would’ve just shot them too before they even had the chance to draw their own guns.

“At least give us a minute,” she said in a wobbly voice. “Please.”

Palpatine pursed his lips. “Thirty seconds.”

Padmé desperately wanted to say goodbye to the twins but she knew Palpatine wouldn’t allow her enough time for that, so instead she wrapped her arms around Anakin, needing to be held by him one last time. “Let me go first,” Anakin said softly.

Padmé pulled back and stared at him. “What? Ani, no, I can’t—don’t make me watch you die, please, I can’t—”

“Neither can I,” he interrupted, giving her a pleading look. “Padmé, please. Four years ago I swore an oath to give my life protecting you, and even though I’m not your bodyguard anymore I still consider myself bound to that oath. I need to go first so that—so that it feels like I fulfilled my oath, somehow. And you’ll only have to wait another second before we’re together again.”

Padmé gazed into his eyes, the eyes she’d fallen in love with almost four years ago. How could she watch the light go out of them? But he looked so desperate, and she found herself nodding. “Okay,” she said quietly, and she leaned into the embrace once more.

And then her eyes fell upon something, and an idea started to form in her mind. A crazy, stupid idea that probably wouldn’t work, but if there was even the slightest chance…She angled her head away a little so that Palpatine wouldn’t see her mouth moving. “The lamp on the table,” she breathed into Anakin’s ear. “I’ll get it. You distract him.”

Padmé felt him give a tiny nod, and they let go of each other and turned back to face Palpatine. Anakin stepped forward, and Palpatine pointed the gun at him, looking almost bored. “Now!” Padmé yelled, and she sprinted across the room as fast as her legs could carry her while Anakin dove to tackle Palpatine.

A gunshot rang through the air, and Padmé shrieked but didn’t dare stop to look. The noise woke the twins, who both started wailing. She grabbed the heavy lamp and yanked the plug out of the outlet on the wall, then lifted it up and slammed it down on Palpatine’s head with all her might.

He crumpled to the ground, and Padmé whacked him with the lamp a few more times to make sure he was unconscious before dropping it and running over towards where Anakin lay on the floor, blood pooling beside him. “Ani, Ani, oh my God—” she wept.

“It’s okay, it’s just my leg,” he said quickly, struggling to sit up. “Padmé, it’s okay.” He lifted his left hand away from his leg to reveal a gunshot wound, and Padmé sagged in relief as she realized that the wound wasn’t fatal.

“You’re losing so much blood, we need to get you to the hospital—”

“Not yet. Get Luke and Leia out of here,” Anakin said. “Get them to safety, and find Obi-Wan or Mace or someone and tell them what happened so they’ll send reinforcements.”

“I’m not going to just leave you here!”

“You have to, Padmé, getting the twins to safety is the most important thing,” he said stubbornly. He rested his hand on her cheek, leaving a bloody handprint there. “I love you. I’ll be fine.”

Padmé sniffled but nodded, knowing he was right. Luke and Leia were top priority. “I love you too.”

She gave him a quick kiss before helping him out of his jacket, balling it up, and placing it over the leg wound to slow the blood flow. Anakin used his prosthetic hand to hold the jacket in place, then reached out to grab the gun with his left hand and pointed it at Palpatine’s unconscious form. “I’ll be ready if he wakes up,” he said, sensing Padmé’s hesitation. “Go, now.”

Finally Padmé forced herself to turn her back on him. She scooped the twins up, one in each arm; they were still sobbing but she was relieved to see that they were indeed unharmed. “Shhh, shhh, it’s okay,” she murmured. She cast one last glance at Anakin, who nodded resolutely at her, before hurrying out the door and down the hallway, frantically looking for a Secret Service agent. They were probably all still on the floor below, too scared to cross her after she’d yelled at them. Why had she done that?

Padmé ran down the stairs as fast as she could without tripping and burst out into the hall, relieved to see Obi-Wan, Rex, and the others still hanging around uncertainly. “Obi-Wan!” she called, racing towards him.

They turned to look at her, and all six pairs of eyes widened when they saw the blood on her face. “Madam President!” said Obi-Wan, also hurrying towards her until they met in the middle. “What—”

“Palpatine’s in the twins’ room with a gun, Anakin’s still there,” she said, practically tripping over her words in her haste. “Please, he needs help—”

Rex immediately sprinted away without waiting for further explanation, holding his wrist up to shout into his mic as he went. The other two on Anakin’s team followed him, and Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and Adi Gallia stayed with Padmé and the twins and quickly escorted her to a safe room; the rest of her team soon materialized as well.

Padmé waited until she’d thoroughly checked Luke and Leia for injury and finally managed to soothe their tears before saying, “I need to go find Anakin, please—”

“No, ma’am,” Obi-Wan cut her off firmly. “You’re staying right here with us until the entire building is clear.”

“But—”

“I’m sorry, but it’s too dangerous. Anakin will be fine, Rex and the others are all taking care of the situation.”

Padmé heaved a sigh but knew Obi-Wan and the rest of the team weren’t going to back down, so she resigned herself to waiting to hear news secondhand and tried not to think about what would happen if Palpatine woke up before the Secret Service got there.


The room was utterly silent aside from Anakin’s labored breathing. The pain in his leg was overwhelming, yet somehow he registered it only in a distant corner of his mind, too hopped up on adrenaline to pay it much attention. He prayed someone would get there before Palpatine woke up. More than that, he prayed Padmé and the twins had gotten to safety and that Palpatine hadn’t had other henchmen lurking around the building, waiting to ambush them.

He wanted to call her and make sure she was all right, but he didn’t dare get his phone out of his pocket because that would mean dropping either the gun or the jacket he was using to stem the blood flow. Well, Anakin was willing to bleed out a little more in return for assuring himself of his family’s safety, but the metal of his prosthetic hand didn’t work on his phone’s touchscreen and he didn’t trust it to be able to fire a gun successfully if Palpatine woke up while he was on the phone, so he left his phone in his pocket.

Which turned out to be a good thing: Palpatine started to stir only moments later. Heart in his throat, Anakin cocked the gun and tried to keep his hand from shaking. Palpatine climbed to his feet and looked around, anger growing on his face as he saw that Padmé was gone. “Don’t move, or I’ll shoot,” Anakin said, doing his best to sound braver than he felt.

Palpatine smiled cruelly and suddenly kicked his leg right where the wound was, and Anakin yelled in pain and dropped the gun. He immediately scrambled to grab it again when he realized what he’d done, but he was too late. Palpatine got there first and pointed it at him. “I may have failed to assassinate the president, but at least I’ll do the whole country a favor by getting rid of her incompetent idiot of a husband,” he hissed.

Anakin closed his eyes, trying to picture Padmé, Luke, and Leia’s faces in his final moments. A gun went off and he flinched, but a few seconds later he realized he wasn’t in any pain. His eyes flew open again and he saw Palpatine nursing a bloody hand, the gun on the floor beside him. The room was full of Secret Service agents, Mace leading the pack and pointing his own gun at Palpatine, clearly the one who’d shot him.

“Senator Palpatine, you are under arrest for attempted assassination of the president of the United States,” Mace said, his eyes crackling with anger. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law…”

Several agents swarmed Palpatine to put him in handcuffs while Mace spoke, and a few others hurried over towards Anakin. “Sir, how badly are you hurt?” Rex asked, crouching down beside him and anxiously scanning his body to look for injuries.

Anakin shook his head. “Not bad. Just my leg.” Though he was starting to get a little woozy from blood loss, and he swayed in place when they helped him up into a standing position. Rex and Cody moved to either side of him and put his arms over their shoulders to support him.

Anakin watched triumphantly as Palpatine was led out of the room in handcuffs. “There’s a car waiting out front,” Fives said a second later, indicating his earpiece.

“Very good,” said Rex. “Sir, can you walk?”

Anakin couldn’t really, but with Rex and Cody’s assistance he managed to hobble out of the room and towards the elevator, hopping on his good leg most of the way to keep his weight off the bad one. They went down to the ground floor and then headed out for the car that awaited them. As they walked, Rex told Anakin that the building was on lockdown as they searched to make sure Palpatine hadn’t brought any accomplices with him. Padmé and the twins were in a safe room with her security team, and the party guests had all been barred in the East Room until the area was clear.

On the way to the hospital, the selfish part of Anakin’s brain wished that Padmé was with him. He reminded himself that it was more important for her to stay home and keep Luke and Leia safe than accompany him to the hospital, but still. He did finally manage to call her, at least.

She picked up after half a ring. “Ani? Are you all right?” she demanded before he had a chance to say anything. “Obi-Wan said Palpatine’s been arrested?”

“Yeah, they got there in time and arrested him,” Anakin said. He refrained from mentioning that he’d be dead if the Secret Service had been even five seconds later; he didn’t want to distress her any further. “I’m fine, I’m on my way to the hospital for them to take care of my leg.”

“That’s still your only injury?”

“Yep. Palpatine did wake up, but the Secret Service showed up before he had the chance to do any more damage.”

“Thank God,” Padmé said, sounding tearful. “Are you in a lot of pain? How much blood have you lost?”

Anakin made a noncommittal noise, once again not wanting to worry her. “We’re almost there. I’ll be fine,” he said by way of response. “You and the twins are still safe?”

“Yes, we’re fine. I wanted to go find you, but they wouldn’t let me.”

“Good. You need to stay there and stay safe,” Anakin said, not admitting that he also rather wished she was with him. “I’m sure it won’t take long for them to patch me up, I’ll probably be home sometime tomorrow.”

“Well, I’m definitely coming to visit you before then. As soon as they let me.”

Anakin shook his head in exasperation but knew better than to try and talk her out of it. Besides, he was desperate to see her.

The wound wasn’t especially deep, and the doctors managed to remove the bullet and stitch the wound up without too much trouble. Then they gave Anakin a blood transfusion and ordered him to rest, which he had no objection to. He was exhausted.

When he finally woke up, he blinked his eyes several times and saw Padmé’s face swimming into view. “Are you an angel?” he asked blearily.

“Very funny,” she said.

Anakin glanced around the hospital room, which was deserted except for the two of them, Rex, and Obi-Wan, who were standing at either end of the room and respectfully pretending not to listen to Anakin and Padmé’s conversation. “We have to stop meeting like this,” he told her.

Padmé gave a huff of laughter. “I know. If I never set foot in this hospital again it’ll be too soon.” She reached out to take his left hand, twining her fingers through his. “How are you feeling?”

Anakin pondered the question. He wasn’t in much pain, which he took to mean they’d given him some pain-relieving drugs that would eventually wear off. But for the time being, he felt decent. “Okay,” he said. “Tired. What time is it?”

“Five in the morning.”

Anakin remembered they’d left the party around eleven, and he had no idea how long had passed between then and when he actually fell asleep at the hospital but figured he could’ve only gotten a couple hours’ rest. “Did you get any sleep?” he asked.

Padmé shook her head. “I’ve been too worried about you.”

He tutted disapprovingly. “Come on, you must be exhausted. You need to go home and go to bed.”

“Jeez, sorry for wanting to stay up and make sure my husband was all right.”

Anakin’s face softened; her tone was light but underneath he saw that she genuinely had been terrified. “I’m fine,” he said gently. “Seriously. Don’t worry about me. It’s all over now.”

Padmé nodded, though her eyes were swimming with tears. “We almost died, Ani,” she whispered.

“I know,” Anakin said heavily. He could already tell the scene in the nursery with Palpatine would haunt his nightmares for months to come. “But we didn’t. We’re fine. And Palpatine’s going to be locked up and then all of this will finally be over.”

“We said that after the shooting with Dooku,” Padmé pointed out. “We said that after the bombing too, but we were wrong. It wasn’t over.”

“I know, but—but it really is this time,” he said. “Think about it. It makes sense for Palpatine to have been pulling the strings all along. It explains all the loose ends and unanswered questions from the other two times. He told us himself that it was all his idea, he called it a job he should’ve done himself right from the beginning instead of getting other people to do his dirty work. I think this is finally the end of it, I really do.”

“I guess,” Padmé said, looking only half-convinced. She stifled a yawn, and Anakin noticed the dark circles under her eyes.

“Come here,” he said, tugging her closer and making her lie against his chest. “You just take a quick nap, okay? You need to rest.”

“There’s so many things I have to do,” she mumbled sleepily, already closing her eyes.

“That can all wait until later.”

Padmé didn’t say another word of protest, and it was only minutes before she was asleep. Tiredness was creeping back up on Anakin too, so he rested his cheek on the top of her head and closed his own eyes, falling asleep almost immediately to the sound of Padmé’s peaceful breathing and the feeling of her warm, comforting weight against him.

Chapter Text

Padmé dozed for only a little while before waking up and reluctantly returning to the White House at the insistence of the agents who had accompanied her to the hospital. She tried her best to start dealing with the fallout of this third assassination attempt, but she almost passed out from exhaustion in the middle of a meeting with Mace and Yoda and finally agreed to go upstairs and get some actual sleep the way everyone had been urging her to do all day. The doctors had told her they’d probably be able to let Anakin go by the end of the day, and indeed he arrived home just after dinner.

Padmé brought the twins downstairs to greet him; they, at least, seemed to have recovered from the events of the night before. She was thankful they were much too young to have any concept of what had happened. “Daddy’s going to be home in a minute,” she told them as she carried them down the hall. “I know he was only gone for a little while, but I missed him. It’ll be nice to have him home again, won’t it?”

Luke and Leia babbled cheerfully at her. Padmé strained to make out any intelligible words, on the lookout more carefully now that Luke had said his first real word, but she heard none. They only had to wait a few minutes before Rex was pushing Anakin inside in a wheelchair. “I told the doctors the wheelchair was overkill,” Anakin said before Padmé had a chance to say anything, “but they expressed doubts about my ability to control crutches with this.” He held up his prosthetic hand for emphasis, and Padmé chuckled.

“Well, I’m sure you’ll have a grand old time getting us all to push you around for a few weeks and wait on you hand and foot,” she said, laughing again when Anakin grinned mischievously.

Leia reached towards him, trying to wriggle out of Padmé’s arms. “Dada!” she exclaimed.

Anakin and Padmé gasped, and Padmé quickly moved closer so that Anakin could take Leia from her. “That’s right, Leia, I’m Dada,” he said, his voice choked up but full of pride.

“Dada, Dada, Dada,” Leia said happily, and now Padmé was getting choked up too.

“I was expecting to wait weeks after Luke’s first word before Leia’s would happen, not one day,” she said, and Anakin gave a watery laugh. All the parenting books and websites said it was normal for twins to hit developmental milestones at different times, and indeed that had been happening so far (Leia had crawled a couple weeks before Luke, for example, and Luke had laughed a couple weeks before Leia).

“I guess she didn’t want to be left behind. Isn’t that right, Leia? You didn’t want your brother to get all the attention,” Anakin cooed, kissing her on the nose and making her giggle and grab at his face.

Padmé passed him Luke as well, then took over control of the wheelchair from Rex and brought Anakin upstairs to their room. Luke still didn’t seem interested in attempting speech again, but Leia incessantly chanted “Dada” all the way upstairs, seeming to realize that doing so delighted her parents.

Despite the moment’s contentment as they sat with the twins in their bedroom, Padmé couldn’t help but voice the dark thought weighing on her mind. “Do you think—” She swallowed and tried again. “Do you think he actually would’ve hurt them?” Because why else would Palpatine have waited for her and Anakin in the nursery instead of their own bedroom? Why bother killing them near the twins if he hadn’t had any intentions to hurt them as well?

A shadow crossed Anakin’s face. “I don’t know, and I don’t want to know either,” he said rather shortly. “Look, let’s just—let’s just be thankful we all made it out okay. Thinking about what-ifs will only make us feel worse.”

Padmé sighed and nodded, knowing he was right and that they should just try to put the whole thing out of their minds even though that currently seemed like an impossible feat. She sat for a while watching Anakin make silly faces at Luke and Leia until they howled with laughter, and she felt a smile grow on her face. Her family was safe and sound. That was the important thing.

Eventually there was a knock on the door, and Padmé gave her permission for them to enter. It was Mace. “Could I have a moment of your time, ma’am?”

“Of course.” Padmé indicated the sofa across from the one she and Anakin were sitting on with the twins. “Please, have a seat.”

Mace obliged, and he took a moment to smile at Luke and Leia (Padmé was pretty sure they were his favorite people in the White House, seeing as they made him smile more than everyone else combined ever did) before turning to look back at her, his expression growing somber once more. “I’m glad none of you were seriously hurt last night,” he began. “Thanks to your quick thinking, Madam President.”

Padmé gave him a small smile of thanks; she’d told him all the details of what had happened earlier that afternoon before heading to bed, though she’d neglected to mention that she’d ordered her and Anakin’s security details to stop following them. The shame of that action weighed too heavily on her mind for her to tell Mace about it. She still couldn’t believe she’d been so stupid. Of course she’d chosen to do it on the one occasion there actually was an assassin waiting for them in their family’s private rooms.

However, it would seem Mace was aware of the fact anyway. “Obi-Wan told me that your details weren’t with you at the time because you asked them to give you space,” he said.

Padmé glanced over towards Obi-Wan (he and Rex had been in the room with her and Anakin the whole time, not wanting to let them out of their sight for the time being), who gave her an apologetic look. She sighed. “Yes,” she admitted quietly. At least that would hopefully prevent anyone on their teams from getting into trouble; she didn’t want Mace to blame them for something that had been entirely her own stupid fault.

She looked back at Mace and saw him pursing his lips. “Ma’am, I’m sorry to be so blunt but that was incredibly reckless of you,” he said. “I understand that it’s bothersome to have a detail following you everywhere you go, but it’s for your own safety. You should never have dismissed your team, especially while there was a party going on and the White House was filled with dozens and dozens of people who aren’t normally here. It’s a miracle you made it out alive last night, and if your team had been there they would’ve taken care of Palpatine before he even had the chance to get near you.”

“It’s not her fault,” Anakin said defensively, scowling. “How the hell were we supposed to know this was going to happen? There’s never been a single threat in Padmé’s private rooms on any other night for the last four years, it’s not her fault that the one time she dismissed her team early was also the one time there was an attacker waiting for her.”

“No, Anakin, he’s right,” Padmé interrupted, shaking her head. “I shouldn’t have done it. I’d had a bit too much to drink and I wasn’t thinking straight, I was being careless and irresponsible. I was so stupid. I promise you, Agent Windu, it will never happen again.”

“I hope not,” Mace said, his expression relaxing a little. “Our job is to protect you, ma’am. Please let us.”

“I will,” Padmé promised. “I’m so sorry.”

“Well, it’s all over now and no one was hurt too badly,” Mace said by way of accepting her apology. “And of course, most of the fault is on us for allowing Palpatine to slip out of the party and sneak upstairs unnoticed. We’ll certainly be increasing security even more at future events.”

And during day-to-day life too, apparently: Padmé and Anakin were to have extra agents on duty during every shift, and one or two of them would remain inside their bedroom while they slept. Seeing their alarmed looks, Mace hastened to assure them this would only be temporary and that things would go back to normal soon, but he wanted to tighten security until everything had been sorted and they were positive Palpatine and every single one of his accomplices was behind bars.

“Guess that means no sex for a while,” Anakin said glumly after Mace had left.

“Ani,” Padmé scolded, darting a glance at Obi-Wan and Rex, who were still in the room and studiously pretending not to be listening. “I think that was already off the table anyway, seeing as you’re very injured and can’t even walk, let alone do, uh, other physical activities. Besides, it’s for our own good. To be honest, I think I’ll be able to sleep better if I know there’s someone right there keeping an eye on everything.”

Anakin conceded the point. “I was thinking earlier,” he said a moment later, “I want to move the twins’ cribs into our room, just for a little while. It’ll make me feel better to have them sleeping right next to us instead of across the hall.”

Padmé agreed, and that night found them lying in bed and listening to Luke and Leia’s soft breathing as they slept in their cribs a few feet away. She was lying very still to avoid bumping Anakin’s leg—he’d refused to let her sleep on the couch and she didn’t have the heart to offer to sleep in another room; she wanted to be near him.

The minutes and then hours ticked by, and Padmé couldn’t fall asleep. She hadn’t slept well earlier that day and was exhausted, but she was too tense and on edge to drift off. She tossed and turned, seeing the night before every time she closed her eyes. There she was again in the nursery, Palpatine pointing the gun right at Anakin’s heart. But this time he fired and Anakin crumpled lifeless to the ground and Padmé was screaming and then Palpatine was aiming at the twins and firing two more times before finally turning the gun on her and pulling the trigger again.

Padmé sat bolt upright with a sharp gasp, her skin sticky with sweat and her hair plastered to her forehead. Disoriented, she blinked in the darkness and reached out to feel Anakin lying beside her, and she realized she must have fallen asleep after all.

“Padmé?” Anakin mumbled, sounding half-asleep. “You okay?”

“Sorry. Yes,” she whispered, lying back down and trying to slow the pounding of her heart. “I’m sorry for waking you. Go back to sleep.”

But she couldn’t get the nightmare out of her mind, and after a minute she felt her throat closing up and tears stinging her eyes. Padmé sniffled and tried to calm herself down, but a few sobs escaped her anyway and she stuck her face in the pillow to muffle them.

She’d been crying quietly for several minutes when she felt a hand on her shoulder. “Padmé, shhh, it’s okay,” Anakin said softly. “It’s okay.”

Padmé rolled over to face him and, after doing a mental check that his bad leg was on the opposite side, scooched closer and buried her face in his shoulder, sobbing more audibly as he wrapped his arm around her. Then Anakin was crying too, and they both lay there weeping and clinging to each other for a long time. Ahsoka and Fives were the agents stationed in their room overnight, but neither of them said a word or made any attempt to check on them, as if silently understanding that this was a private moment they shouldn’t intrude on.

Only when one of the twins started crying did Anakin and Padmé stop. Padmé climbed out of bed and approached the cribs, seeing that it was Luke who’d been woken by their tears. Padmé picked him up and held him close, murmuring soothing words until he’d quieted down again. She was about to put him back to bed when she changed her mind and picked up Leia as well; she gave a tiny yawn and blinked sleepily up at Padmé, not having been woken by any of the previous noises (sharing a room with another infant for nine months meant you got pretty good at tuning things out and sleeping through anything).

Padmé went back over to the bed and carefully laid Luke and Leia down next to Anakin, then crawled back in herself so that the twins were cozily smushed between them. Padmé draped her arm over them and Anakin did the same, so she took his hand and squeezed it, her thumb absently rubbing his wedding ring. Leia went right back to sleep almost immediately, Luke following her a couple minutes later, and, comforted by the presence of her family, it was only a few more minutes before Padmé drifted off as well.


A month passed in the blink of an eye, and suddenly it was election night. “This is definitely less suspenseful than the last one,” Padmé said wryly. There was no chance she wasn’t going to win, seeing as her only opponents were third-party candidates and someone who was currently awaiting trial for attempted murder. There had been much confusion about what to do about the election once Palpatine’s actions had become known, but ultimately he’d remained on the ballot since he hadn’t actually been convicted of anything yet (his official trial was still several weeks away).

And so Padmé was, obviously, pulling very far ahead already; some of the third-party candidates were getting more votes than they would normally and even Palpatine was actually getting some votes, which Padmé felt said some very troubling things about the American population, but it was only midnight and already very clear that Padmé would win.

Anakin laughed. The pair of them were in front of the TV in their private sitting room along with the Organas, the rest of the cabinet, and their parents. All family members had immediately flown out to DC to check up on Anakin, Padmé, and the twins after the assassination attempt, and Sola’s family and Owen and Beru had gone back home within a week, not wanting to take too much time off school and work (well, Ryoo and Pooja had been very willing to take more time off school, but their parents had felt otherwise). Jobal, Ruwee, Shmi, and Cliegg had all decided to stay for a few weeks, though, and Padmé wasn’t about to complain; her parents’ presence had been having a soothing effect on her, and she knew Anakin felt the same way.

Luke and Leia were there as well, though they were currently sound asleep in their parents’ arms. Padmé thought they should’ve just put them to bed at the normal time, but on the other hand, this was a momentous occasion and she felt like the twins should be there for it even if they slept through the whole thing and had no memory of it when they were older.

“Well, think of it this way,” Anakin said in response to her comment. “You’ll probably get the record for the candidate who received the highest proportion of votes out of any election ever.”

“That’s true,” Padmé said, chuckling. “Still, it kind of feels like I cheated.”

“Palpatine only has himself to blame for effectively taking himself out of the running,” said Satine. “Besides, you’ve been leading the polls by a longshot for months. I’m sure you would’ve won anyway.”

“I guess.”

Within an hour Padmé was yawning and wishing she could go to bed, but she felt obligated to stay up for the whole thing even though it was obvious what the results were going to be. Sure enough, after another hour or so the newscaster was saying, “This comes as a surprise to no one, but it looks like we can finally officially say that President Amidala will be staying in office for another four years.”

Padmé smiled and everyone else cheered. Anakin kissed her on the cheek, shifting Luke into his right arm so he could give her a one-armed hug with his left. “Did you hear that, you guys?” he asked the twins. “Mommy won! Isn’t that exciting?”

But Luke and Leia slept on, utterly oblivious to the goings-on of the outside world, and Padmé and Anakin both laughed. There was only a quick round of congratulations before everyone went off in separate directions to go to bed, all of them just as tired as Padmé was.

After putting Luke and Leia in their cribs, Padmé and Anakin changed into pajamas and climbed into bed themselves. Anakin scooched closer and wrapped his arms around her. “I’m so proud of you,” he said softly, kissing the top of her head.

Padmé let out a huff of laughter. “For winning the easiest election in the history of this country? It would’ve taken a miracle for me to not win that, Ani. Well, the negative version of a miracle, whatever that is.”

“I’m still proud of you,” he insisted stubbornly. “Sure, you had this particular election in the bag, but that doesn’t negate all the amazing work you’ve done, all the incredible effort you’ve put in. Even if your one major opponent had been a competent politician instead of a murderer, you would’ve won because you’re the best president this country’s ever had, and everyone with a brain knows it.”

Maybe Padmé was just overtired, but Anakin’s words made tears spring to her eyes. She leaned in and kissed him on the lips. “I love you so much,” she said, brushing a stray strand of hair out of his eyes and smiling at him. “I’m so glad I’ve gotten to share this journey with you, even as awful as it’s been sometimes.”

Anakin smiled back. “So am I,” he said. “But it’s only half over. We’ve still got four more years.”

“True. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Padmé said ruefully, and he laughed.

But as she considered the prospect of her second term before she fell asleep, she realized that she was ready for the challenge. She’d been making good progress over the past four years but there was still so much that she wanted to do, and this second term would give her that opportunity. And besides, as much as she resented the presidency sometimes for taking away her privacy and free time and chance of a normal life, for making her and her family the target of assassination attempts, it was also the reason she had met her husband. Padmé wouldn’t have Anakin or Luke or Leia, or Obi-Wan or Ahsoka or the rest of her team or all the other friends she’d made, if she hadn’t been president, so she couldn’t help but feel that despite all the bad things that had happened, the net effect of these first four years on her life was decidedly positive. And hopefully that would be true of the next four as well.

Chapter Text

4 Years Later

“So,” Anakin said at last. “How does it feel?”

Padmé leaned over to look out the window of their private plane, watching DC get smaller and smaller until it was covered by the clouds. “Really weird,” she said, shaking her head slightly. She’d spent weeks trying to come to terms with the fact that her presidency was finally ending, but it still hadn’t quite sunk in.

“Yeah, I hear you,” said Anakin, also looking out the window. “It feels like the past eight years make up my entire life and everything before that wasn’t even real.”

Padmé hummed in agreement. She could hardly remember a time when she hadn’t lived in the White House, when she hadn’t been whisked from meeting to meeting and phonecall to phonecall every minute of every day. When she hadn’t been a wife or a mother, when she hadn’t even known Anakin at all.

Luke tugged on her sleeve. “Mommy, where are we going?”

“We’re going to our new house, sweetie,” Padmé told him patiently. She and Anakin had explained this to the twins numerous times, but it seemed that they too were having a hard time wrapping their heads around it.

Luke pouted. “I wanna go home.”

“We are going home. To our new home,” Anakin said.

“Why do we have to move?” Leia demanded.

“Because Mommy’s not president anymore,” he replied. “We can’t live in the White House because President Mothma lives there now.”

Leia huffed and crossed her arms, and Padmé stifled a laugh at how unintentionally adorable the gesture was. “I don’t wanna move,” she whined.

“I know, honey, but you’ll love our new house,” Padmé promised her. “And it’s really close to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and to Auntie Sola and Uncle Darred and Ryoo and Pooja. You’ll get to see them all the time. Won’t that be fun?” Leia cheered up a little at that, as did Luke. Their adult relatives all spoiled them rotten, and they worshipped the ground their older cousins walked on.

When trying to figure out where to move after Padmé’s second term was done, Anakin had been decidedly against going back to Arizona, so the logical thing to do was to go back to Massachusetts where Padmé’s family was. They’d ended up buying a beautiful home in Chestnut Hill just outside Boston, and as much as the White House had become home to them over the past eight years, Padmé was more than ready to live in a normal house once again. Or at least, as “normal” a house as was possible for a former president to live in, what with all the necessary measures to ensure security and privacy.

She was also glad that the twins were still so young, having turned five only a week earlier. She knew when they were older they’d be furious that they’d lived in the White House for five whole years while they were too young to appreciate or remember it, but Padmé and Anakin were both happy that they’d be able to have—not a truly normal childhood, of course, but more normal than if they were spending most of it growing up in the White House. They were too young for their mom being the president to go to their heads, and hopefully it would stay that way since Padmé’s presidency would be far in the past by the time Luke and Leia were old enough to really understand what it meant. And because they were starting kindergarten in the fall, they’d probably be able to easily make friends with their classmates without being known as the kids of the former president, seeing as their fellow kindergarteners would also be too young to really grasp the concept. Though Padmé was briefly amused as she pictured how the other parents would react when she and Anakin brought the twins to school on the first day.

Their family would still have some security agents with them—Padmé and Anakin for the rest of their lives, Luke and Leia only until they turned sixteen—but their post-presidency security wouldn’t be nearly as suffocating as what they’d had during Padmé’s time in office. They were all new agents, though. Some of the ones on her and Anakin’s previous teams were staying on to work for Mon Mothma, some had moved to other positions within the Secret Service, and some had retired or gotten entirely new jobs.

Ahsoka was in the latter group. As far as Padmé knew, she hadn’t yet decided on what new job she wanted, but being married to a U.S. senator meant her financial situation was stable enough that she didn’t have to rush her job search (she and Riyo had gotten married during Padmé’s sixth year in office). Personally, Padmé hoped Ahsoka would take a nice long break before finding a new job. She definitely deserved it, as did the rest of the team.

Obi-Wan, meanwhile, had stayed with the Secret Service but was moving from presidential protection detail to a high-ranking administrative position—better pay, less demanding work, and a more regular schedule. He and Satine were married as well, though it had happened only within the past year. And Owen and Beru’s wedding had been between Obi-Wan and Satine’s and Ahsoka and Riyo’s, hence there had been a stretch of time during her second term when Padmé had joked she’d spent more time going to weddings than actually being in office.

The Amidala-Skywalkers were going to take a long trip to Arizona soon and spend some quality time with Anakin’s family, whom distance had prevented them from seeing much of during Padmé’s presidency, but aside from that they weren’t planning to do any traveling just yet. Everyone Padmé knew had been expecting her to immediately jet off to a tropical island for some much-needed vacation, but she’d thought it might be nice to just stay home for a while and get settled in their new house. After all, Luke and Leia had spent much of their first five years of life being dragged all over the world with their parents while Padmé was making all sorts of diplomatic visits, and she and Anakin believed it would be good for them to be able to finally stay in one place for an extended period of time.

The flight from DC to Boston wasn’t long, but Luke and Leia fell asleep anyway, having been tired out from sitting through the long (and, to five-year-olds, incredibly boring) inauguration. “We should take a trip together,” Anakin said a while after they’d nodded off.

Padmé raised her eyebrows. “I thought we’d decided to stay home for a while and give the twins some stability for once.”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean you and I couldn’t go away alone together,” he said. “When’s the last time we’ve really had quality alone time? The one week of our honeymoon five and a half years ago? We deserve a month or two all to ourselves.”

Padmé had to admit that sounded wonderful. “What are we supposed to do with Luke and Leia for a month or two?” she asked, her inner responsible self not letting her agree to the proposition right away.

“We could send them off to our parents,” Anakin suggested. “They could have a couple weeks with mine and a couple with yours. Think about what a win-win situation that would be. Luke and Leia get quality time with their grandparents, our parents get quality time with their grandchildren, and you and I get quality time with each other.”

“Hmm. That’s actually not a bad plan,” Padmé said. Both sets of grandparents did always badger them about not getting to spend enough time with the twins. “Say I agreed. What kind of trip are you thinking of?”

“Picture this,” Anakin said. “You and I go somewhere tropical, completely alone—”

“Aside from our security agents.”

“You and I go somewhere tropical, almost completely alone,” he amended. “We sleep until noon and then we have some morning sex, followed by breakfast in bed courtesy of room service. Then we head down to a private beach and have some beach sex—”

“Beach sex? With all that sand? The things you’re willing to do for me.”

“—we go in the water to cool off and have some ocean sex—”

“After making sure there’s no paparazzi within a ten-mile radius.”

“—we relax and sunbathe on the beach and sip some fruity drinks, we go back to the hotel and have sex all over the suite, then we have dinner in bed courtesy of room service, then we go to the spa and get massages and then we go back to the room for the night—”

“No spa sex?”

“In front of all the masseuses? You pervert.”

Padmé laughed. “So we go back to the room for the night and go to bed?”

“Oh no, first we have pre-bed sex and then we take a long relaxing bath together and then we go to bed,” Anakin corrected, grinning. “And the next morning we sleep till noon and do it all again.”

Padmé smiled as she imagined the scenario in her head. Anakin was right; the two of them had barely had any time to themselves throughout the five and a half years of their marriage. They’d spent all their timing being the president and First Gentleman, or even just being a mother and a father, and hadn’t ever had much time to focus entirely on being husband and wife. “That does sound pretty amazing,” she said. “Maybe we can run the idea by our parents and see if they could watch the twins for a while over the summer or something.”

Anakin pumped his fist triumphantly and leaned over to kiss her. “You’ve worked ridiculously hard over the past eight years,” he said after he drew away. “Honestly, you deserve an eight-year vacation to make up for it.”

“Unfortunately, that’s a little impractical, so a month will have to do.”

There was a contented silence, and then Anakin asked, “Are you glad it’s over?”

Padmé considered the question. She knew most of the country wasn’t glad it was over. Her approval ratings were among the highest of any past president. Her presidency had had an overall positive effect on the country. The economy was booming. Unemployment had gone down, and GDP, minimum wage, and average household income had gone up. Immigration was a little bit easier and healthcare was a little more accessible, and Padmé knew Mon Mothma would continue her unfinished work in these areas and in countless others. Schools all over the country were reporting a decrease in bullying thanks to the successful bullying prevention program Anakin had spearheaded, and the scholarship fund he’d set up was allowing more students from low-income families to attend college every year. Yes, the people of the United States were generally sorry to see the Amidala-Skywalkers leave the White House.

But was Padmé herself glad it was over? The end of her presidency still felt too surreal for her to truly come to terms with it. Her second term had thankfully been much more peaceful than the first—Palpatine had been convicted and sent to prison, and no other attempts on her life were made after that—but still stressful and hectic, and she was certainly excited to be getting some time to herself to relax for practically the first time in eight years. But on the other hand, she had no idea what she was going to do now. The zenith of her life plan had always been becoming president, and she’d never thought too much about what she would do afterwards. Maybe not having a plan would be good for her. Maybe the girl who’d had a written copy of her life plan sitting on her desk since she was in third grade would benefit from just hitting pause on everything and taking some time to breathe.

“Kind of glad, kind of sad,” Padmé said at last. “But more than anything I’m just relieved to be a regular-ish citizen again with a regular-ish life.”

“Tell me about it,” said Anakin, chuckling.

“What about you? You must be glad to not have to go to quite as many political functions anymore.”

“Oh, definitely,” he assured her. “But, I don’t know, I’ll miss some things. As much as I complained about everything, it wasn’t all bad.”

“No?”

“I mean, I did lose a hand, but I gained a wife and two kids so I’d say it was worth it.”

Padmé burst out laughing, and Anakin joined in. “What are we going to do with ourselves now?” she asked next.

“Well, we’re going to spend the rest of the day exploring our new house and settling in,” he replied. “And tomorrow morning we’ll sleep late because we don’t have any meetings to go to, and I’ll cook breakfast since we no longer have our own personal chef who refuses to let me lift a finger in the kitchen, and the four of us will sit down and eat together without risk of the meal being interrupted by some important business you have to take care of right away.”

“That sounds nice,” Padmé said, smiling at the mental image of the four of them still in pajamas, sitting around the small kitchen table eating Anakin’s homemade breakfast. “And after that? What are we going to do long-term?”

Anakin shrugged helplessly. “Maybe we’ll both get new jobs.”

“Such as? I’m not trained for anything besides politics, and you’re not trained for anything besides the Secret Service.”

“Hmm, true,” he said, making a face. “Well, maybe we’ll become humanitarians or something, set up some charity organizations and all that stuff.”

“I’ve kind of been thinking about that too, actually. Just because we’re not in the White House anymore doesn’t mean we’re not still in a position to help people and do some good for the world,” Padmé mused. “Anyway, we have plenty of time to think about where we go from here. And until then…I guess we’ll just live and see what happens.”

Anakin smiled at her and took her hand. “Sounds good to me,” he said. “I can’t wait to live the rest of my life with you.”

Padmé smiled back, once again overwhelmed by how drastically her life had changed over the past eight years. Changed for the better, unquestionably. “Neither can I.”