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A Decent Proposal

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I did not open my eyes. I woke up on my stomach listening to the sound of air whooshing through ductwork and a curious humming whose source was close by. I’m on a ship, but what ship? As the fog of a heavy medication-induced slumber began to lift, I reviewed the events that I could recall from the last several days, truly hoping most of it was a nightmare. As the humming grew closer I hazarded to open my eyes, only to find myself eyeball to photoreceptor with a strange droid. I jerked reflexively and felt the wicked sting running across my back. Geonosis. War. Anakin!

I moved to rise, but realized with a groan that every inch of me was stiff and bruised. I can see it in slow motion now. The gunship shuddered and I lost my grip. I can still hear Anakin’s anguished call as he reached out too late. I was falling. My mind didn’t register the impact with the sand dune, but currently my body does.

“Senator Amidala, please do not move. I am here to change your dressings,” the droid explained in its monotone.

“Very well.” I would be patient for another minute and then I was going in search of Anakin. He needs me.

I slowly got to my feet. It was no stretch to say I was hurting. The sooner I started moving around the better. I got dressed ever so carefully. All I had to wear were hospital type scrubs. Thankfully the shirt was loose and light over the bandaged gashes in my back. I left the room despite the droid’s protests.

“R2! Where is Anakin? Can you take me to him?” R2 must have been waiting out there all night. He beeped excitedly and started off down the hallway.

Obi-wan was sitting in a mechno-chair outside Anakin’s room. He looked worn, perhaps from the pain of his own wounds. He smiled guardedly when he saw me.

“Senator, I’m glad to see you up and around.”

“I would say the same thing for you. How is it that you’re able to be out so quickly?”

“I couldn’t rest and I wouldn’t let them give me anymore medication. I wanted to be here for Anakin.”

“How is he?” I felt my voice tremble.

“They stabilized him during the night. They are fitting him with a cybernetic limb.”

“Stars, I can’t believe it. His right hand.” I dared to ask the question. “Will he still be able to become a Jedi knight?”

“M’lady, I’m sure he will recover his skill in time. Surely you know that it will not be a physical barrier that will keep him from attaining Jedi status.” He was looking at me speculatively and I dreaded what he would say next. “Anakin is his own worst enemy. He was injured because he was brash and his feelings had already gotten the better of him. M’lady, I think perhaps it would be wise if you and I talked later. Not here, of course.”

That was a relief. I had taken no time to gather my thoughts on the subject of Anakin and I. I was sure that was what Obi-wan meant to discuss with me. I was grateful when another medical droid opened the door to his room. I started to head for it, but then remembered Obi-wan and paused.

“Go ahead, Senator.” He motioned me on and I didn’t stop to argue with him, or to ask anyone’s permission to be in there. I had to see Ani.

He was resting. I didn’t want to wake him. I only wanted to be near him. I stood there for a few minutes watching him breathe, silently thanking the Force that he was. I couldn’t resist bending over him to touch his face. I sat down beside the bed and reached for his left hand. There was a sheet covering his other arm, the injured one.

I sat by him as the hours passed. He was coming to very slowly, drifting in and out. I had to keep standing up every so often to try to stretch out my bruised body, but I did so quietly. Obi-wan came in for a while and we were able to speak with the doctor in the hallway about what to expect during Anakin’s recovery.

At last he began to stir and I put my hand on his handsome face as his eyes focused on me. He smiled groggily and my heart soared for a moment, until his right arm moved from under the sheet and reached to cover my hand with his. There was a moment where I recoiled inwardly, but I only froze. It reminded me of 3PO before he got his coverings. There were exposed wires and a golden skeletal frame. It looked so foreign and mechanical. My face must have registered my thoughts because Anakin followed my eyes to his limb, let out a horrified cry, and thrust it back under the sheet. The pain in his face, moved me deeply.

“Ani? Ani, listen. This is as far as they can go with your arm until you get acclimated to it. They have to make sure everything is connected correctly before they finish.”

“Anakin, my name is Anakin. What are you doing in here?” he asked defensively, still breathing rapidly from the shock of seeing the limb.

“I wanted to be here when you woke up. ”

“Thank you for your concern.” His tone was cold, distant. He rolled away from me.

“Ani—er Anakin, it’s going to be OK. There is a period of adjustment to get through.”

He didn’t say anything. He didn’t even look at me when I said goodbye so that he could rest. I tried not be hurt. He has been through some terribly life-changing events recently. I must try to remember that.

I was back in my sterile room. The entire medical frigate was cold, metallic, and unfriendly. I sat thinking of my own foolishness. What an idiot I was for confessing my love to Anakin on Geonosis! It was the truth, but it seems to have counted for nothing. He couldn’t even say the words back to me. He’s hinted and stepped all around it. He’s said many beautiful things to me, but never has “I love you,” been among them.

I went down to see him for a little while each day, but our conversations were fairly one-sided. He acted like he didn’t want me there. He definitely didn’t want me touching him. I began to feel that I had been wrong to ever believe he truly cared for me. If he did, my presence seemed to give him little pleasure. What I’d give if only he would smile at me again!

I must admit I skipped visiting him for a day. I don’t know why. I certainly had nothing else to do. Instead I visited some of the other wounded Jedi, but did my best to avoid Obi-wan. Even so we accidentally ran into each other in the hallway. He inquired after me and I him. Then he remarked that I had not been to see Anakin and to my surprise, asked me if I would because I seemed to be the only one who could get him to say anything, even a grunt in reply.

But I was proud and I didn’t go. Either it was my pride or fear of his rejection. That was a new feeling for me. The next day I decided to wander the corridors of the massive ship. The doctor told me I should try to stay active or else my scars would not be flexible. They were thick and crusted and hurt each time I made a sudden move. As I walked idly through the lonely corridors I couldn’t shake this prickling feeling on the back of my neck. Someone was following me.

Where were we going? I had been told of no destination. The ship seemed to be in a perpetual orbit near Geonosis. I looked out a viewport at the asteroid field and the orange planet beyond.

My pause seemed to have drawn out my stalker. There were footsteps behind me and a familiar voice spoke, “It’s so dull here. What keeps you so busy, Senator?” There was a trace of resentment in the question.

My heart leaped in my chest as I turned around. Whether or not he truly cared for me, I loved him. Oh fool that I am! He had his cloak wrapped around him, concealing his arm, and underneath was wearing the same type of smock I had on. I reined in the urge to run to him.

“Anakin, I’m glad to see you up and around, and in such a stylish outfit.” I took a stab at levity, but he didn’t smile. “I have been making the rounds, visiting some of the other wounded Jedi for the last couple days.”

“Ah, then that must account for it. I guess I’m really no more special than any of the others.”

“You know that’s not true.” I sought to meet his eyes from across the room, but he refused. He was standing just near the edge of the viewport area. His face was dark with shadows. “Now that you’re able to be out of bed, it would seem reasonable for you to come visit me, or perhaps we could meet here.”

“We could.”

I didn’t know if that was a yes or a no. I took two tentative steps towards him. He remained motionless, neither giving me encouragement, nor retreating, so I took two more. Eventually I took enough steps in the silence between us that I could feel the heat from his body, but just as I reached out to touch him, he wheeled and walked off.

I didn’t understand what was going on in his head. I had an idea, but there were other doubts that cropped up in my mind. Maybe Obi-wan had reasoned with him and it finally sank in that we could never be. My imagination grew wild. Maybe he had been playing with my heart all along and once I willingly gave it, he was no longer interested. Could it possibly be that I had been deceived? Were all his affections merely the dalliances of a 20 year old boy? I was hurt, but maybe this estrangement was all for the best. We have no tangible future.

We did meet in the appointed place each day. Sometimes we barely said a word. We just sat and looked out at space, a billion stars whirling in their own paths. Then one day he was late and I had given up on his appearing. I heard his footsteps and knew he was standing there watching me, but I didn’t turn around.

“I thought you weren’t coming,” I said quietly.

“It crossed my mind. Padme, what is the point of this?” As usual he was brooding.

I turned around. At least he remembered my name. He hadn’t spoken it since Geonosis. “You mean meeting here? It’s as good a place as any on this ship.”

“I mean, why do you pretend to want to be with me? What could you want with a maimed padawan?” The bitterness seethed out of his words and he shook his left hand in disgust. He couldn’t stand himself, and it was far beyond him to imagine that anyone else could.

“Anakin, my feelings for you have not changed, even if yours have.” Against my will my eyes brimmed. I couldn’t stop the accusation from leaving my lips, “Even if yours never were real!” This time I was the one with bitterness in my voice. I turned away, angry with myself. There was silence for a time as I struggled to keep my breathing even and not to betray the hot tears running down my cheeks.

“Don’t cry Padme. My feelings were—are real.” His tone changed completely. He moved towards me, but there was no reassuring touch. I could feel him less than an arm’s length away and knew a fierce longing for that touch. He sighed and sat down in the seat nearest where I stood.

I wiped my eyes with my sleeve and issued my challenge. “Then why have you closed your heart to me?”

“I’m just trying to make it easy for you. I don’t need your pity. I don’t expect you to love a monster.” He seemed to have been referring to more than just his new limb.

“A monster? Is that how you think of yourself? Because that’s not how I see you.”

I approached him and touched his cheek, willing him to meet my eyes, which he did for a brief instant before looking away. I reached down to move the cloak away from his prosthetic arm, but he jerked away and stood up like he was going to flee again. I caught his other hand with mine to stop him, as if I could have physically done that. He stayed by the force of my will. I then reached into his cloak gently taking hold of his new hand. I felt the wires and the artificial material it was made of, but I also felt it spring to life at my touch. I watched his face as he looked down at my hand holding his. His eyes softened and shone in awe. Finally, he met and held my stare. He saw the truth of what I had said in my eyes and a renewed light of trust began to glow on his face. He squeezed both my hands and said quietly and in all sincerity, “I love you, Padme.”

At last the words I had so longed to hear! In my head I knew that those were precisely the words he should never say, but in spite of that, joy swelled within me like music. He smiled tenderly at me and it was as if I were bathing in the Naboo sun. Unfortunately our little reunion was cut short by someone’s approach and we had to let go. It was Obi-wan, who else? I know he could see the streaks left by my tears. He was a painful reminder to both of us, that our love, now so fully expressed, could bear no fruit. I didn’t care. I went back to my room in a blissful daze.

The next day instead of going to our usual meeting place I went to his room early hoping to catch him before he left. I left R2 standing guard outside the door. There was no one in the room except Anakin and the usual droid. I approached him without hesitation. Even after yesterday, he was still unsure. I grasped only the new hand this time. He wanted to kiss me. After being alone with him at the Lake Country I knew that much. He leaned forward and I drank in the warmth of his soft lips sliding over mine.

During the pause where our lips regretfully separated, I gently took his new hand up to my face and kissed his palm. “Touch me,” I commanded in a whisper. He caressed my cheek and then worked the fingers through my hair. I took his hand and put it at my waist. We both shivered slightly as both his hands slid under my shirt and around my back, careful to avoid my wounds. He had never held me like that before and I nearly swooned when he pulled me tightly up against him. He was warm and I could feel his lean muscles through the thin material we both were wearing. A strangely exultant feeling was coursing through me and I was thinking as I melted against him that whatever he wanted to do I would consent to.

We stayed against each other breathing each other’s breath. I was lost in the fathomless blue of his eyes. Just then I heard R2 whistle a greeting to someone outside. Instead of jumping away from him I merely turned with his right hand in mine. Of course it was Obi-wan. He must have radar or some kind of hormone detection system. Oh, that’s right, he has the Force.

He gave us a somewhat embarrassed smile as he entered. “Excuse me—“

“Master Kenobi, we were just about ready to go for a walk,” I offered, hoping that it sounded plausible, given our proximity to one another. I was hoping too that I didn’t look as guilty and blushing as I felt.

“So, I see. Anakin, how is your hand?” Of course he had noticed our joined hands right away.

Anakin looked down and released mine. He was blushing. “It’s getting better. How are your injuries?”

“Still healing. I’m glad you’re both here. I wanted to talk to you.” Here it comes, I thought. “Senator, we believe your life could still be in danger, which is one of the reasons we have not returned to Coruscant. We feel it would be best for you to return to your planet for the time being. Do you agree? We have your ship in the hold--”

“You’re not sending her off alone.” Anakin broke in.

Obi-wan paused to give his apprentice a silencing glare. “We will assign someone to escort you back Senator.”

“And what if I don’t wish to go back? I have work to do in the Senate.”

Obi-wan must have felt slightly annoyed to have these two rebellious young ones giving him the third degree. “M’lady, you are still under the same mandate as before. Once you return it will be between you and your Queen when you come back to the Senate, but at this time the Jedi Council agrees you should return to Naboo.”

“So I’m to be given no choice.” I caught Anakin’s eyes briefly. They had taken up their sadness anew.

“Are you ready to travel?”

“I don’t see why not. Who is to escort me?” I knew Obi-wan wasn’t going to send Anakin back with me, no matter what I hoped.

“I would do it myself, but I have plans to return to the fighting soon.”

“Master, what am I to do?” Anakin questioned.

“You, young apprentice, will be returning to Coruscant so they can finish your arm. You will have some time off and then you will be brought back into training. The remaining members of the Council will want to discuss some of the recent events.”

“I see.” A sullen cloud descended upon his features. It did not sit well with him to have his fate constantly in someone else’s hands. “Put the cripple out of the way until you decide what to do with him.”

Obi-wan and I both turned to look at him then. “Ani—“ I stammered, remembering he didn’t like to be called that anymore, but Obi-wan found his voice.

“Anakin the Council is more concerned about your mental well-being right now than your physical.”

“Then don’t send me to Coruscant to rot! I’ll go crazy there!” He stormed out of the room and left me alone with Obi-wan. Thanks Ani!

“He’s having a difficult time right now,” I said uneasily. I wasn’t sure I wasn’t making it even more difficult.

“I appreciate what you’re trying to do for him, but I am concerned. He cares about you deeply enough that it has already interfered with his duty. This was evident when you fell out of the gunship.”

“Perhaps he was only confused about what his duty actually was at that time. He had been charged to protect me. He was conflicted.” Master Windu had specifically told Anakin to protect me at all costs.

“Conflicted, yes.” He heaved a big sigh and walked across the room to gather himself.

Obi-wan was about to launch into a lecture. Anakin was lucky to have escaped it. Before he could begin, I made an excuse saying I needed to take some medication and left him standing alone in Anakin’s room. Who was he to lecture me? I couldn’t bear for him to remind me that Anakin and I had no future.

I sat alone in my room. I didn’t look for him. I was feeling guilty now about all that I allowed myself to feel for him. The moment that I saw him in Coruscant I had been aware of an insistent thrumming within me, measuring out the passage of time. Ten years had already passed. I had been too busy to notice until I saw him. He had changed so much from the boy I remembered with such fondness. He had grown into a young man, and a handsome, dashing one at that. His brash words and even bolder stares disarmed and awakened me. But how could we be together? We had already made our choices. That was before I knew there could be eyes like Anakin’s, which, by the heat of their passion, burned into my soul. There were still some things that I wanted for myself. When we were threatened with death I spilled out my heart to him. Ever since then the thrumming has become clearer like a metronome, setting the rhythm to the melody of the hours and days.

It was getting later. A droid entered the room with the evening’s fare. Wonderful stuff. I was sitting on the bed curled into a ball, resting my chin on my knees, and didn’t even look up.

“What, aren’t you hungry, M’lady?” My head snapped up at his voice. He had entered the room right behind the droid, carrying his tray of food. He was smiling genuinely and his eyes sparkled with excitement. “You don’t mind my company, do you?”

“By all means, join me. You’re seeming lighthearted tonight.”

“Good news will tend to do that.”

“What is it? I could use some.”

Chapter Text

“Good news will tend to do that.”

“What is it? I could use some.”

He sat in the chair by my bed and put down his tray. “Master Yoda is on board and it seems he has assigned all other able available Jedi to other tasks. He told Master Kenobi that I am to escort you back because it would be a good job for me right now. Light duty.”

“What did Obi-wan say?”

“I wasn’t privy to all the conversation, but he clearly disapproved. I think he’s thinking of going to Master Windu.”

Oh, I hoped not! I decided to speak with Obi-wan myself the next day to try to ease his mind. He was right to be concerned. It’s just that I didn’t want him to think so.

“I can’t wait to get you to myself on that ship.” His tone was more serious than I would have liked. Perhaps it was his blunt honesty that was too true a reflection of my own thoughts.

“Don’t you have me to yourself now?”

“You know what I mean.”

“I’m not sure I do.” I was feeling a sudden rush that caused me to lose what meager appetite I had for Republic frigate cuisine.

“Well, we can say what we want, do what we want, without fear of interruption.”

This sounded to me like he had big plans for us. I was a little nervous thinking about it.

We parted for the night with a kiss. I wasn’t able to sleep much. I was thinking about how I would approach Obi-wan. I was thinking about what Anakin and I could have that wouldn’t jeopardize his life in the Order.

The next day I sent R2 to my ship to get a decent outfit for me to put on. The gashes were healed enough that my clothing no longer stuck to my back.

I sought out Obi-wan and encountered him in the hallway outside his room. “Good morning Master Kenobi,” I greeted him pouring on the charm.

“Good morning to you. You are looking well.”

“As are you. Tell me, has it been decided who will escort me to Naboo? I believe my homeworld would be a welcome sight.” I went straight to the point.

He answered me reluctantly. “Master Yoda has decided Anakin is fit enough to see you back. I warned him against it. I believe my padawan has formed an unhealthy attachment to you.”

Unhealthy attachment? In my present state of mind I believed that it was the Jedi code, which was unhealthy and went against the human spirit. What was life without relationships, without love?

“To me?” I laughed it off as if it were the most ridiculous thing in the world. “We are friends to be sure, but we are both also very dedicated to our positions in life. It will be back to business for me when I’m finally cleared to return to Coruscant. Actually I’m breathing a sigh of relief that he will be going back with me. I know him and I trust him. And I’ve already seen that your training has paid off as far as his ability to protect me. You must be very proud of him.”

“Most of the time, I am.” He took the bait.

“It eases my mind that I won’t have to adjust to a new Jedi escort. If it can’t be you, then I’m glad it’s Anakin. He could use some time to recuperate. It has been said that my planet has healing properties, even for the soul.”

We both knew that Anakin’s soul needed healing. By the time I was through with him Obi-wan might have even been glad himself that his padawan was escorting me. Well, that might be stretching things a bit.

We made preparations for the departure the following day. I who had been so set against going home before, anticipated even the journey. Anakin clearly had some kind of plans. I wished he would let me in on his secret. A woman needs to be prepared for this sort of thing.

The day had come. We had collected R2 and finally 3PO, who now had his head on straight after his ordeal on Geonosis. Obi-wan saw us off and though outwardly he appeared calm, I could read a hint of a wringing expression in his eyes. In any case he wouldn’t dwell on it long because he would be very busy in the coming days. He told us that Anakin could remain on Naboo with me until I arranged for my own security to come back from Coruscant.

I was trying to maintain a dignified and serious attitude, but inside I was absolutely giddy. When we finally left the bay of the medical frigate, I actually ran into my room and started jumping up and down. After a few seconds of unbounded silliness, I recovered my decorum and went in to sit beside Anakin at the controls.

He was all seriousness. “How long has it been since this thing has been serviced? I felt just ever the slightest vibration at take off.”

How embarrassing! “I’ll have to have that looked at when we get home.”

He had noticed my use of the word home as if it were ours together. “That reminds me R2, why don’t you go to the engine room and have a look?” R2 beeped his assent. “You too 3PO.”

The two droids were bantering away as usual about nothing at all as they proceeded down the hall. So much for being alone.

“Anakin, could we not arrange for the droids to spend the rest of the trip in the engine room? Especially that 3PO.” We both laughed.

We stayed fairly busy during the first hours of the trip. I was a little disappointed that he was so focused on the task at hand. It would be a short journey. We must make the most of it. He stayed at the controls that evening until he figuratively handed them over to R2 to monitor. He urged me to retire to my quarters. He said he was going to his room for a while. I was puzzled by his lack of interest in me. He did walk me to my door and then kissed me carefully. Did he not know how my heart thundered within me?

I couldn’t sleep. I began to understand why people in love looked so dreamy-eyed. Since declaring my love for him I had been getting less and less sleep, aside from the drug-induced variety. I really did try to sleep, but I lay stiffly on the bed. I couldn’t relax. I got up and paced around the confines of the tiny room. It was cold. I kept thinking of how nice it would be to curl up against Anakin’s warm body. On an impulse I slipped on my robe and went out the door.

I was standing outside his door in some indecision. I can’t show up at his door in my nightgown! At the very least he’ll think it very forward of me. But I’m wrapped in my big, fluffy robe. That must count for something. I just want to talk to him, I told myself. And if you believe that, then you’ll believe the moons of Naboo are made of shuura fruit! I was just ready to turn back for my room full speed when the door of his room opened. He was sitting cross-legged on his bed in baggy, tan pajamas.

“You know, you really shouldn’t stand out in the hallway like that…in your bare feet? You’ll catch cold.” He was staring opened mouthed for a second, but recovered himself and grinned. “And just how am I supposed to sleep with you standing outside my door?” He was amused and I was painfully embarrassed.

“I was just—I thought I heard something. It must have been ship noises.”

“Hmm, I’ll have to take a look at that.” He regarded me skeptically. I started back for my room in due haste and realized that he was pursuing me. “Wait, are you sure that’s all?”

“Yes, I think so.” I would have complained about the coldness of my room, but I was feeling rather warm at the time. I started to duck back inside, but he caught my hand and pulled me around to him.

“Goodnight Padme.” We kissed, our lips lingering longingly, and when we separated we both stood there dumbly, our faces inches apart.

I nearly asked him in, but instead mumbled, “Goodnight, Ani...Anakin.”

What’s going on? Now that we were finally alone, things weren’t going as I expected. It’s one thing for him to make passionate overtures to me. It’s quite another for me to show up at his room in my nightclothes. I didn’t want to be that aggressive, but “Good news will tend to do that.”

“What is it? I could use some.”

He sat in the chair by my bed and put down his tray. “Master Yoda is on board and it seems he has assigned all other able available Jedi to other tasks. He told Master Kenobi that I am to escort you back because it would be a good job for me right now. Light duty.”

“What did Obi-wan say?”

“I wasn’t privy to all the conversation, but he clearly disapproved. I think he’s thinking of going to Master Windu.”

Oh, I hoped not! I decided to speak with Obi-wan myself the next day to try to ease his mind. He was right to be concerned. It’s just that I didn’t want him to think so.

“I can’t wait to get you to myself on that ship.” His tone was more serious than I would have liked. Perhaps it was his blunt honesty that was too true a reflection of my own thoughts.

“Don’t you have me to yourself now?”

“You know what I mean.”

“I’m not sure I do.” I was feeling a sudden rush that caused me to lose what meager appetite I had for Republic frigate cuisine.

“Well, we can say what we want, do what we want, without fear of interruption.”

This sounded to me like he had big plans for us. I was a little nervous thinking about it.

We parted for the night with a kiss. I wasn’t able to sleep much. I was thinking about how I would approach Obi-wan. I was thinking about what Anakin and I could have that wouldn’t jeopardize his life in the Order.

The next day I sent R2 to my ship to get a decent outfit for me to put on. The gashes were healed enough that my clothing no longer stuck to my back.

I sought out Obi-wan and encountered him in the hallway outside his room. “Good morning Master Kenobi,” I greeted him pouring on the charm.

“Good morning to you. You are looking well.”

“As are you. Tell me, has it been decided who will escort me to Naboo? I believe my homeworld would be a welcome sight.” I went straight to the point.

He answered me reluctantly. “Master Yoda has decided Anakin is fit enough to see you back. I warned him against it. I believe my padawan has formed an unhealthy attachment to you.”

Unhealthy attachment? In my present state of mind I believed that it was the Jedi code, which was unhealthy and went against the human spirit. What was life without relationships, without love?

“To me?” I laughed it off as if it were the most ridiculous thing in the world. “We are friends to be sure, but we are both also very dedicated to our positions in life. It will be back to business for me when I’m finally cleared to return to Coruscant. Actually I’m breathing a sigh of relief that he will be going back with me. I know him and I trust him. And I’ve already seen that your training has paid off as far as his ability to protect me. You must be very proud of him.”

“Most of the time, I am.” He took the bait.

“It eases my mind that I won’t have to adjust to a new Jedi escort. If it can’t be you, then I’m glad it’s Anakin. He could use some time to recuperate. It has been said that my planet has healing properties, even for the soul.”

We both knew that Anakin’s soul needed healing. By the time I was through with him Obi-wan might have even been glad himself that his padawan was escorting me. Well, that might be stretching things a bit.

We made preparations for the departure the following day. I who had been so set against going home before, anticipated even the journey. Anakin clearly had some kind of plans. I wished he would let me in on his secret. A woman needs to be prepared for this sort of thing.

The day had come. We had collected R2 and finally 3PO, who now had his head on straight after his ordeal on Geonosis. Obi-wan saw us off and though outwardly he appeared calm, I could read a hint of a wringing expression in his eyes. In any case he wouldn’t dwell on it long because he would be very busy in the coming days. He told us that Anakin could remain on Naboo with me until I arranged for my own security to come back from Coruscant.

I was trying to maintain a dignified and serious attitude, but inside I was absolutely giddy. When we finally left the bay of the medical frigate, I actually ran into my room and started jumping up and down. After a few seconds of unbounded silliness, I recovered my decorum and went in to sit beside Anakin at the controls.

He was all seriousness. “How long has it been since this thing has been serviced? I felt just ever the slightest vibration at take off.”

How embarrassing! “I’ll have to have that looked at when we get home.”

He had noticed my use of the word home as if it were ours together. “That reminds me R2, why don’t you go to the engine room and have a look?” R2 beeped his assent. “You too 3PO.”

The two droids were bantering away as usual about nothing at all as they proceeded down the hall. So much for being alone.

“Anakin, could we not arrange for the droids to spend the rest of the trip in the engine room? Especially that 3PO.” We both laughed.

We stayed fairly busy during the first hours of the trip. I was a little disappointed that he was so focused on the task at hand. It would be a short journey. We must make the most of it. He stayed at the controls that evening until he figuratively handed them over to R2 to monitor. He urged me to retire to my quarters. He said he was going to his room for a while. I was puzzled by his lack of interest in me. He did walk me to my door and then kissed me carefully. Did he not know how my heart thundered within me?

I couldn’t sleep. I began to understand why people in love looked so dreamy-eyed. Since declaring my love for him I had been getting less and less sleep, aside from the drug-induced variety. I really did try to sleep, but I lay stiffly on the bed. I couldn’t relax. I got up and paced around the confines of the tiny room. It was cold. I kept thinking of how nice it would be to curl up against Anakin’s warm body. On an impulse I slipped on my robe and went out the door.

I was standing outside his door in some indecision. I can’t show up at his door in my nightgown! At the very least he’ll think it very forward of me. But I’m wrapped in my big, fluffy robe. That must count for something. I just want to talk to him, I told myself. And if you believe that, then you’ll believe the moons of Naboo are made of shuura fruit! I was just ready to turn back for my room full speed when the door of his room opened. He was sitting cross-legged on his bed in baggy, tan pajamas.

“You know, you really shouldn’t stand out in the hallway like that…in your bare feet? You’ll catch cold.” He was staring opened mouthed for a second, but recovered himself and grinned. “And just how am I supposed to sleep with you standing outside my door?” He was amused and I was painfully embarrassed.

“I was just—I thought I heard something. It must have been ship noises.”

“Hmm, I’ll have to take a look at that.” He regarded me skeptically. I started back for my room in due haste and realized that he was pursuing me. “Wait, are you sure that’s all?”

“Yes, I think so.” I would have complained about the coldness of my room, but I was feeling rather warm at the time. I started to duck back inside, but he caught my hand and pulled me around to him.

“Goodnight Padme.” We kissed, our lips lingering longingly, and when we separated we both stood there dumbly, our faces inches apart.

I nearly asked him in, but instead mumbled, “Goodnight, Ani...Anakin.”

What’s going on? Now that we were finally alone, things weren’t going as I expected. It’s one thing for him to make passionate overtures to me. It’s quite another for me to show up at his room in my nightclothes. I didn’t want to be that aggressive, but “Good news will tend to do that.”

“What is it? I could use some.”

He sat in the chair by my bed and put down his tray. “Master Yoda is on board and it seems he has assigned all other able available Jedi to other tasks. He told Master Kenobi that I am to escort you back because it would be a good job for me right now. Light duty.”

“What did Obi-wan say?”

“I wasn’t privy to all the conversation, but he clearly disapproved. I think he’s thinking of going to Master Windu.”

Oh, I hoped not! I decided to speak with Obi-wan myself the next day to try to ease his mind. He was right to be concerned. It’s just that I didn’t want him to think so.

“I can’t wait to get you to myself on that ship.” His tone was more serious than I would have liked. Perhaps it was his blunt honesty that was too true a reflection of my own thoughts.

“Don’t you have me to yourself now?”

“You know what I mean.”

“I’m not sure I do.” I was feeling a sudden rush that caused me to lose what meager appetite I had for Republic frigate cuisine.

“Well, we can say what we want, do what we want, without fear of interruption.”

This sounded to me like he had big plans for us. I was a little nervous thinking about it.

We parted for the night with a kiss. I wasn’t able to sleep much. I was thinking about how I would approach Obi-wan. I was thinking about what Anakin and I could have that wouldn’t jeopardize his life in the Order.

The next day I sent R2 to my ship to get a decent outfit for me to put on. The gashes were healed enough that my clothing no longer stuck to my back.

I sought out Obi-wan and encountered him in the hallway outside his room. “Good morning Master Kenobi,” I greeted him pouring on the charm.

“Good morning to you. You are looking well.”

“As are you. Tell me, has it been decided who will escort me to Naboo? I believe my homeworld would be a welcome sight.” I went straight to the point.

He answered me reluctantly. “Master Yoda has decided Anakin is fit enough to see you back. I warned him against it. I believe my padawan has formed an unhealthy attachment to you.”

Unhealthy attachment? In my present state of mind I believed that it was the Jedi code, which was unhealthy and went against the human spirit. What was life without relationships, without love?

“To me?” I laughed it off as if it were the most ridiculous thing in the world. “We are friends to be sure, but we are both also very dedicated to our positions in life. It will be back to business for me when I’m finally cleared to return to Coruscant. Actually I’m breathing a sigh of relief that he will be going back with me. I know him and I trust him. And I’ve already seen that your training has paid off as far as his ability to protect me. You must be very proud of him.”

“Most of the time, I am.” He took the bait.

“It eases my mind that I won’t have to adjust to a new Jedi escort. If it can’t be you, then I’m glad it’s Anakin. He could use some time to recuperate. It has been said that my planet has healing properties, even for the soul.”

We both knew that Anakin’s soul needed healing. By the time I was through with him Obi-wan might have even been glad himself that his padawan was escorting me. Well, that might be stretching things a bit.

We made preparations for the departure the following day. I who had been so set against going home before, anticipated even the journey. Anakin clearly had some kind of plans. I wished he would let me in on his secret. A woman needs to be prepared for this sort of thing.

The day had come. We had collected R2 and finally 3PO, who now had his head on straight after his ordeal on Geonosis. Obi-wan saw us off and though outwardly he appeared calm, I could read a hint of a wringing expression in his eyes. In any case he wouldn’t dwell on it long because he would be very busy in the coming days. He told us that Anakin could remain on Naboo with me until I arranged for my own security to come back from Coruscant.

I was trying to maintain a dignified and serious attitude, but inside I was absolutely giddy. When we finally left the bay of the medical frigate, I actually ran into my room and started jumping up and down. After a few seconds of unbounded silliness, I recovered my decorum and went in to sit beside Anakin at the controls.

He was all seriousness. “How long has it been since this thing has been serviced? I felt just ever the slightest vibration at take off.”

How embarrassing! “I’ll have to have that looked at when we get home.”

He had noticed my use of the word home as if it were ours together. “That reminds me R2, why don’t you go to the engine room and have a look?” R2 beeped his assent. “You too 3PO.”

The two droids were bantering away as usual about nothing at all as they proceeded down the hall. So much for being alone.

“Anakin, could we not arrange for the droids to spend the rest of the trip in the engine room? Especially that 3PO.” We both laughed.

We stayed fairly busy during the first hours of the trip. I was a little disappointed that he was so focused on the task at hand. It would be a short journey. We must make the most of it. He stayed at the controls that evening until he figuratively handed them over to R2 to monitor. He urged me to retire to my quarters. He said he was going to his room for a while. I was puzzled by his lack of interest in me. He did walk me to my door and then kissed me carefully. Did he not know how my heart thundered within me?

I couldn’t sleep. I began to understand why people in love looked so dreamy-eyed. Since declaring my love for him I had been getting less and less sleep, aside from the drug-induced variety. I really did try to sleep, but I lay stiffly on the bed. I couldn’t relax. I got up and paced around the confines of the tiny room. It was cold. I kept thinking of how nice it would be to curl up against Anakin’s warm body. On an impulse I slipped on my robe and went out the door.

I was standing outside his door in some indecision. I can’t show up at his door in my nightgown! At the very least he’ll think it very forward of me. But I’m wrapped in my big, fluffy robe. That must count for something. I just want to talk to him, I told myself. And if you believe that, then you’ll believe the moons of Naboo are made of shuura fruit! I was just ready to turn back for my room full speed when the door of his room opened. He was sitting cross-legged on his bed in baggy, tan pajamas.

“You know, you really shouldn’t stand out in the hallway like that…in your bare feet? You’ll catch cold.” He was staring opened mouthed for a second, but recovered himself and grinned. “And just how am I supposed to sleep with you standing outside my door?” He was amused and I was painfully embarrassed.

“I was just—I thought I heard something. It must have been ship noises.”

“Hmm, I’ll have to take a look at that.” He regarded me skeptically. I started back for my room in due haste and realized that he was pursuing me. “Wait, are you sure that’s all?”

“Yes, I think so.” I would have complained about the coldness of my room, but I was feeling rather warm at the time. I started to duck back inside, but he caught my hand and pulled me around to him.

“Goodnight Padme.” We kissed, our lips lingering longingly, and when we separated we both stood there dumbly, our faces inches apart.

I nearly asked him in, but instead mumbled, “Goodnight, Ani...Anakin.”

What’s going on? Now that we were finally alone, things weren’t going as I expected. It’s one thing for him to make passionate overtures to me. It’s quite another for me to show up at his room in my nightclothes. I didn’t want to be that aggressive, buthe seemed more tentative than I would have expected. I waited at my own door now from the inside wondering if he was doing likewise from the other side.

Sometime during the course of the few hours I slept, the ship lurched. The sound of the engine told me that we had come out of hyperspace. My Jedi pilot had not mentioned any stops. I slipped my robe back on and upon peeking my head out the door, saw a groggy Anakin berating one 3PO.

“What are you guys doing up there? Why did we come out of hyperspace?”

“But sir, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. There seems to be some problem with the hyperdrive coil.”

“I knew it!” He went dashing off down the hall and I came out to follow him to the engine room. He was opening doors, peering anxiously at machinery and circuits, and muttering about the hour and lousy technicians on Naboo.

“Hey! We have perfectly fine techs on my planet. Besides, you were the one who flew it last. What have you done to my ship?”

“I believe you were flying with me last time. It was working perfectly, but I’m telling you I felt it shaking ever so slightly when we left the medical frigate. Most pilots wouldn’t notice it, but I picked it up.”

Oh, not that again! I admitted nothing. I watched him reset a few switches.

“Hmmm, something overloaded some of the circuits.”

There was a deafening sound as the ship rocked. We fell into each other arms, but it wasn’t a moment we could savor. He steadied me and pulled me after him heading for the control room. R2 reported we were currently under attack.

“Thank you for the newsflash! How did they find us so fast?” Anakin puzzled.

“Who are they?”

R2 beeped prolifically and then 3PO translated, “Oh my! We are in the Dega system and it is likely that they are Degan pirates.”

The ship’s shields sustained another devastating hit.

“What do they want?” I inquired, sitting down in the navigator’s chair.

“This ship and anything of value we might be carrying.” Anakin replied distractedly.

“Then why are they trying to blast us out of space?”

He didn’t answer me. He was working frantically over the controls. “We’ve got to get out of here. Blasted ship doesn’t have enough of a defense--R2 get back there and get the hyperdrive back in action!” R2 was already there.

It was only one ship that threatened us. And his goal I supposed was to disable us and then take the ship, ejecting us out into space like so much scrap. Anakin was doing a masterful job of evading the shots. I opened a hidden control panel and up popped a handle.

“Can you get behind him?”

“What good will that do? Are you going to pop at him with a blaster?” He wasn’t paying much attention to me, but rather was fumbling over the controls with his right hand, which refused to cooperate as quickly as he wished.

“No, I thought maybe with this.” It was my ship, and since the Trade Federation ordeal we had worked in extra defense measures on most of the ships. When I hit the right button a panel slid open outside and a large gleaming gun emerged on the front of the ship. I would be targeting using a computer.

He raised his eyebrows and nodded respectfully. “That is so Nova! They won’t be expecting that. Hold on, I’ll get us there.”

Hold on indeed! We were spinning, looping, and dodging our way around the numerous moons of Dega. The bolts of the other ship’s guns were missing us and drifting harmlessly out into space. Anakin was in his element and he got us in position in a remarkably skillful maneuver. I opened fire on the enemy, inflicting some damage each time. Soon our attacker was the one doing the running. I took out two of his guns and he had smoke trailing out behind him. Then suddenly the ship disappeared in a flash of light. I had failed to damage his hyperdrive.

“Sith, he got away!”

“I didn’t want to blow that ship apart, I just wanted him to leave us alone.”

“He’ll be back and he’ll bring friends if we don’t get this thing moving. They weren’t expecting a Jedi pilot and a warrior Queen.” We were both coursing with adrenaline and momentary triumph. He stood up and grabbed me, planting a hard kiss on me before taking off for the engine room. I had to stand there a second and rub my lips, wanting desperately to feel his arms around me like that again.

We all worked replacing burned out circuits and checking sensors. I listened as Anakin mulled over the situation with the hyperdrive. “It’s almost as if something from the outside specifically targeted it. You can see how it traveled. That Degan ship did seem to be waiting for us, but I don’t think they knew who was on board or else there would have been more of them. I wonder if they have some new technology that can pluck ships out of hyperspace.”

“They probably do find this line of work profitable, particularly with the Republic presence concentrated elsewhere. Maybe they have means to such a technology.”

We finally got the engine back online and put back to hyperspace. Neither one of us was tired, so we sat talking. I only became aware that we were both still in our pajamas, when I saw he was staring, no gawking at me, but not at my face. I looked down to see that my fluffy robe had been untied for Force knows how long and my gown underneath was all crooked and falling off my shoulder, making it a bit more revealing than it should have been. I promptly pulled the robe back around me and he came back to the present galaxy.

He flashed a guilty grin at me, showing those perfectly aligned white teeth and looking at me sidelong with those smoldering eyes. I couldn’t resist saying, “Glad you could join me. I’m a little thirsty, would you like anything?”

“I’ll go with you.”

I was rummaging around in the ship’s provisions while he leaned up against a cabinet. “I’ll take some of that blue stuff.” His eyes were on me. Without turning I could feel the weight of their gaze. “Padme that robe covers up way too much of you.”

He was coming closer and I felt the hairs on my neck stand on end. He gathered my locks up with his hands, lifting them and soon I felt his soft lips on the side of my neck. I just closed my eyes and tingled. I turned around and handed him the bottle and we drank in silence, contemplating one another. I giggled because he was getting a blue moustache from his drink. I have since wondered whether or not this wasn’t a deliberate ploy on his part.

“What? What’s so funny?”

“You have a little blue, just there.” I shook my head when he wiped at his mouth with his sleeve. “You still didn’t get it.” I walked over to him and used my finger to swipe at it. His lips were warm and tantalizing and I leaned up to taste them, once, twice...

That was all that it took to unleash the flood of desire we both had pent up for one another. His hands went boldly for the tie of my robe, pulled it, and slid underneath it, while our mouths sought each other in a frenzy. I felt electrically charged. I could feel his fingers and the palm of his hand through my gown, and I knew he could feel every curve and the heat of my skin through it. My robe lay crumpled on the floor at my feet. He pulled me up against him firmly. It was the second time he had held me this way and the effect was similar to the first. He pushed me back a moment as if searching my face for something and I nodded at him encouragingly. If this was all we could have, then I would take it gladly.

He hesitated, as though unsure and then led me to the door of his room. It was closest. I closed the door behind us and in a flash we were on the bed. It didn’t seem real. My mind closed down to only the delicious sensations flowing through me for a time. But when his braid started to tickle my face, it seemed to call me back to reality. My better sense began to immobilize me with near panic. It will be all right. Quite

unexpectedly, he rolled away from me and jumped up. He seemed to be engaged in some sort of struggle and with great effort sat in a chair next to the bed, combing his hair with his fingers nervously. He was catching his breath. “This isn’t right. I’m sorry Padme.”

Not half as sorry as I was! I sat up, trying to steady myself. “Don’t be sorry Ani. You didn’t do anything to wrong me.” In case he hadn’t noticed, I was an equal participant.

“You deserve better and I wanted to talk to you about something. Now I’ve ruined it,” he lamented.

“You mean this isn’t what you were talking about?” I was crestfallen and confused. Had he decided after all that we could not pursue our feelings for each other? Is that why he had been so tentative during this trip?

He shook his head emphatically, dropped it, and frowned. “Padme you’d better go back to your room. I can’t bear to see you sitting there like that.”

I started to get up and come towards him. I wanted to talk to him and began, “Ani, please don’t insist on feeling bad about this. It’s OK.”

“Please go. I can’t talk to you right now.”

Chapter Text

“Please go. I can’t talk to you right now.”

I stood stunned for a moment, then headed for the door with my arms folded across my chest, scalding with shame. Once outside I went to retrieve my robe out of the pantry, wrapping it around me and cinching it up tightly with shaking hands. I retreated to my cubicle of a room and holed up there as if under siege.

What he must think of me! This is nothing like politics. In politics you don’t let anyone see your weakness. In that game, I’m strong. I know how to handle myself. But this thing with him is different. I feel so vulnerable and ever since confessing my love, which was the one card I was holding in my favor, I seem to be walking around with my heart on my sleeve, which was something I could easily accuse him of before. Now, he’s being careful and sensible, at least part of the time. It’s clear that my love is a liability.

Our time was now set for Naboo. It was very late in the day and I still remained within my quarters, reading and editing my report to the Queen to distract myself. I wasn’t very successful in keeping my mind clear of him. I was reading line after line, having no idea what I had just gone over.

I thought we had gone past a point of no return earlier in his room. He surprised me with a restraint I hadn’t known he possessed. In most other matters he charged ahead heedless of the consequences, much like a reek. Ah, but I had to remember his restraint towards me at Varykino when we sat before the fire that blazed almost as keenly as his eyes when he saw me in that black dress. Oh, that dress! What on earth could I have been thinking? I wasn’t. It was simply a miracle that his 20 year old hormones didn’t overcome him right then, and thought become deed. Instead he sat there pouring out his heart to me, granted, trying to get closer with every word he spoke. I had to move away. I couldn’t sustain the distance unless I increased it. If I hadn’t been the voice of reason then, just imagine what would have happened. Just imagine.

I was disgusted at myself for letting my mind wander in that direction. Clearly, there was no use contemplating it, just as there was none to replay those sweet moments in his room. His touch, our breathing, the damp heat from our bodies. Stars, I couldn’t bear to get close to him like that, to burn like that again, only to have him send me out.

Now I supposed he was at the ship’s controls. We probably had another day of travel before landing on Naboo. I had managed to get myself together enough to be dressed, even though I felt like staying wrapped up in my robe all day. My hair was loose except for the gold circlet going around my forehead. As regal as I might have looked, I still felt like I couldn’t face him. He didn’t give me much choice.

There was a rap at the door. “R2?” I asked hopefully, knowing full well R2 would not have knocked.

“No, it’s me, Ani.” I noted how he referred to himself.

“What do you want?” I affected as cold a tone as I could muster.

“Are you OK in there?”

Oh, what did he care? “Yes, I’m fine.”

“Will you be coming out this evening?”

“I see no reason why I should not remain in my quarters. I do not require any further assistance.” I was using the tone with him.

“This is ridiculous. Padme, please open the door.” He was imploring, never mind that he could have opened it himself with a flick of the wrist.

I didn’t want to, but at the same time I couldn’t give him the satisfaction of knowing how much he wounded my pride. Still I hesitated, forming the childish, pouting, No! in my mind.

As if he had heard my unvoiced response he went on, “Please, I have to talk to you. It’s very important.”

“Very well.” I steeled myself and cued the door. There he stood, my golden warrior. Not mine, I reminded myself. I failed in my supreme effort to look through him the way I do my opponents and let my eyes fall to the floor to avoid the earnest keenness of his.

“First I want to say how deeply sorry I am for taking advantage of you last night.”

Did I complain? How presumptuous of him to assume that it was he and not I who was taking advantage! “Please, can we not speak of it?”

Had we done what I thought we might, I would have been a willing participant, but I was not letting him know that now in the face of my shame at what part of me perceived was his rejection.

His expression was tender and apologetic. “Padme, you’re my angel and I just couldn’t treat you with such carelessness.”

“Don’t put me on a pedestal. I am not an angel, I am a woman.” I couldn’t look him in the eye. I was too unsteady.

He leaned against the doorway as something slowly dawned on him. He spoke so softly. “Oh Padme, you can’t possibly think that my opinion of you has suffered?” I didn’t respond. It was a little arrogant, but indeed it was the truth. He stepped closer and lifted my chin so that I could do nothing other than look at his face. “You’re my light. Force, how I wanted you, but I really needed to talk to you and I couldn’t trust myself to do that just then. And that is why I’ve come to ask you to dine with me tonight.” He must have seen my eyebrows rise skeptically. “Admittedly, it will not be fine fair, but your company will make it something special.” I was giving him no encouragement. “Please? I’m not looking forward to dehydrated vegetables unless you share them with me. ”

I finally agreed to go, appearing to do so begrudgingly and he led me down the hall to the control room of all places. Some effort had been made to improve the ambience of the room. There was a lovely red cloth draped on a table and the lights were dimmed so that the various instruments and sensors were the only light. The effect was rather like a starry night. Through the intercom he was piping some music I recognized from home.

“R2 found the music for me in the ship’s files.” He seated me and I noticed there was something a little anxious about his motions. He opened a cupboard and pulled out a bottle of wine that he had found still on board. I guessed it had not been provided to us at the medical frigate. As he poured it the bottle clanked rapidly against the glasses.

If I had been so seated with almost any other man in the galaxy, I would have known from his behavior what were his intentions, but this was not any man, this was Anakin, a Jedi. Even so, how could I not have guessed?

So we ate our meager fare mostly in silence and drank the wine gratefully. It was the best part of the meal. I maintained my distance emotionally. He started to fill up my glass again, but I held up my hand to refuse. The wine was already going to my brain as it had a talent for doing, but he insisted on putting a small amount in my glass. 3PO came in quietly for once and brought dessert, which consisted of dried fruits. Anakin must have taken two bites and then let his fork clang loudly onto his plate. He sat up straighter and cleared his throat.

“Padme, I have thought hard about us, meditated on the meaning of our love, and I have come to some decisions. But before I tell them to you, you must first agree to hear me out. Will you?”

Now I put down my fork feeling butterflies ripple through my insides. I nodded.

“I’ve tried to reconcile my heart to the detachment required of me in my chosen path, but it’s not possible. My love for you runs through every fiber of my being. And before I ever pledged myself to the Jedi, I had already pledged my heart to you.” He reached across the table and took my hands. My glacial façade was running away in rivulets at my feet. He went on. “I want no future that doesn’t include you, love. That is why I have decided to leave the Order.”

My eyes widened and I opened my mouth to object, but he silenced me with a finger held to my lips. Suddenly, he stood up and came to my side, dropping down on one knee. “Padme Naberrie, my only love, and sole delight of my heart, say that you’ll marry me and be mine until the stars shine no more.”

So beautiful were his words and the gentle, yet passionate way he spoke them, that I nearly said yes, even beginning to nod, but then the part about his leaving the Order hit me full force. I scooted back from him hurriedly, shaking my head. “Ani, you can’t!”

That was clearly not the response he had been waiting for. “Umm Padme, that is the part I get to decide on. You’re supposed to decide on the second part.”

“No! You must not leave the Order. You are far too valuable, too talented. The Republic needs you. I could never say yes, knowing I’d be taking you from your destiny.” I felt sick in my heart.

“Padme, I know my destiny. You are my destiny!”

He said it with such pure conviction that I was wavering. I wanted to fall into his arms. I wanted to weep uncontrollably and say yes. I shook it off. “No, I will not consent. I have duties as well.”

“Padme, I have already heard this entire argument. And then one beautiful moment I stood in awe when I heard the one I love more than anything putting it all aside and telling me she loved me. That was you. You do love me?”

He was trapping me. “You know I do.”

“Then marry me.”

“No, I’m sorry, I can’t do that.” My tone was not firm enough when I said it. “Ani, we’re here together. I am willing to be with you here and now, with you in every way that you might desire. Let’s just leave it at that.” I was shocked at myself for the suggestion, though I had thought it at least a dozen times of late.

A peculiar light glinted in his eyes for an instant, but then he went on. “Don’t think I haven’t thought the same thing, but being lovers is not enough for either one of us and you know it!”

“It has to be.”

He stood up and walked back and forth in agitation. “If my chosen path had been freighter pilot or moisture farmer or such a thing which required little commitment, would you say yes?”

I sighed, “There is no use pondering such things.”

“Answer love.”

“Yes, I suppose I would.” Trapped again. I knew what he was doing, yet I let him do it and played right into his hands. There was a faint smile on his lips. I went on, “But you’re not and I will not consent to marry you, if by my doing so, you will leave the Order.”

“Then I won’t. We’ll keep it a secret and I’ll be both your husband and a Jedi since you’re so certain that the galaxy cannot do without me. I only know that I can’t do without you.” Had I really just lead him to this conclusion? He kneeled back down beside me again. “I’ll do whatever you want, only say you’ll be my wife. If I can’t have you, there is nothing else in my life worth striving for. Padme, say you’ll marry me.”

My heart was throbbing, and the metronome counted on as the song played. How much longer would it play? He was persistent. If everything I felt for him was so wrong, why did it feel as if some unseen hand were merging our paths? I loved him and felt that it was time for me to take hold of happiness when I had the chance. The events of the last weeks had proved to me that I was not invincible and not infallible. We were both human after all. I decided to stop arguing and look at the man knelt humbly before me.

“Yes,” I breathed, my voice shaking. “Anakin Skywalker, I will.”

Hastily he kissed me, and then stood me up and whirled us around. He was about to say something, but ran out of the room jumping, shouting, and whooping. I laughed and ran out into the corridor and into his arms. Our kisses rained upon one another.

3PO came out of the engine room in alarm, thinking something terrible was wrong. “Master Anakin, we’re picking up some strange vibrations within the ship.”

Anakin summarily dismissed him and set about the task at hand, which he must have thought was kissing the living daylights out of me. He had me pressed up against his door and gave me the same look as the night before. Apparently the knowledge that I would soon be his wife, combined with the celebratory mood, caused him to lose his inhibitions regarding our chastity. It had not done the same for mine.

I put my hands on his chest and enforced a certain distance so that I could breathe. “Ani, we can get married as soon as we arrive at the Lake Country. I know a priest who owes me a favor. We’d better get some sleep.”

Ha! As if either one of us would! I could at least plan for the following day. I reflected that it did seem a little cruel for me to push him away now. Perhaps it was retribution for the night before.

He nodded his assent, but watched me back away from him wistfully. “Goodnight, my love.” He started off down the hall.

“Where are you going?”

“To make sure we get to Naboo in optimum time.”