Padmé was empty inside. She’d done enough crying to last her a lifetime, and it was like her emotions had escaped through her final tears. Everything had gone so horribly wrong, more than she could have imagined, not that she had thought Anakin would fall. How could she ever think that of her husband, the father of their child? It was too much to process fully, and that child was the only thing keeping her from falling apart. It gave her something else to focus on.
Glancing at Obi-Wan, Padmé winced slightly. He used to joke that Anakin made him age prematurely, and now he looked as though he’d aged ten years.
Obi-Wan had pleaded with the Council to back down from their foolish spy plot. He’d even asked her to talk to Anakin so he’d know Obi-Wan really was on his side, but Palpatine had poisoned his mind to such an extent that Anakin didn’t trust Obi-Wan anymore. He hadn’t even asked Obi-Wan for help with his nightmares about her death. She had to be the one to tell him why Anakin was so on edge. Truly, it seemed like Anakin didn’t even love him anymore.
She wasn’t sure if Anakin was capable of love, after everything he’d done.
Banishing the horrors from her mind, she finally got up from the copilot’s chair. That finally snapped Obi-Wan out of whatever half-meditative state he was in, and he jumped up to her side. She was very pregnant after all.
Padmé could tell he almost asked if she was alright. What a stupid question.
“You should lie down,” he said instead. “It will still be some hours before we reach Mustafar.”
She waved him off. “I’m fine. I just need to stretch a little.”
Obi-Wan only stood there, helpless and in desperate need of a distraction.
“What’s our plan?” she asked. “We don’t even know what he’s doing there.”
“Slaughtering the Separatists, most likely.”
His matter-of-fact tone should have disturbed her, but she figured this was how he was choosing to cope with his trauma. His entire world had come crashing down on him. Everything and everyone he’d ever cared about was gone, save for herself. She briefly wondered what he would do if he lost her as well.
“So what are we going to do when we get there?”
Obi-Wan looked at the floor for a moment, his shoulders sagging. “I suppose,” he said slowly, “that you should go out to meet him first. He still trusts you. If that that doesn’t work, I’ll come out and do whatever needs to be done.”
“What do you mean ‘whatever needs to be done’?” Scowling at him, Padmé fisted her hands in the front of his robe. “Obi-Wan, I know you still love him. We have to try to talk him down. You can’t kill him!”
His head snapped up, and there was a bit of his own anger in those blue eyes, but it was muted. “I don’t want to kill him, Padmé. I don’t doubt that it will come to a fight, though, and I will do all that I can to merely incapacitate him.”
She stared at him, hearing the pain in his voice, and her anger was gone with an exhale. She rested her head on his shoulder, still holding onto his robe, and he eventually brought his arms up to embrace her. They stood there like that until she felt the baby kick. Backing away from him, Padmé put a hand on her stomach and asked quietly, “What are we going to do about the baby?”
Obi-Wan sighed as he ran a hand through his hair. “It will still have at least one father, assuming Anakin doesn’t kill me.”
It was the first time either of them had said his name since boarding the ship. Hearing it then, especially in that context, was like a blaster bolt to the heart. It was obvious Obi-Wan wasn’t as optimistic about bringing Anakin back to the light, but seeing the bodies of younglings would do that.
“I think I’ll . . . go lie down for a bit,” Padmé said, avoiding eye contact.
She had to have fallen asleep because she closed her eyes for what she swore was just a second, and when she opened them, Obi-Wan was standing over her, saying they’d arrived. He helped her to her feet, and her stomach did a series of flips that almost had her running to the fresher. She wanted to blame it on the baby, but she knew it was the thought of facing Anakin.
He rested a hand on her cheek. “You don’t have to—”
“Yes, I do, Obi-Wan. I have to try.”
Taking a deep breath, Padmé walked over to the ramp and hit the button to lower it.
She wasn’t prepared for the heat. It took her a minute to stop choking on the thick air, and her eyes stung in a very different way than they had hours earlier. Looking around, all she saw were a few buildings and a river of lava far down below. Then she noticed movement.
It was him.
Schooling her features into something vaguely happy, she ran up to him. Anakin embraced her tightly, mindful of her swollen belly, and she tried not to think about what he smelled like.
“I can’t believe you’re here,” Anakin murmured as he cupped her face in his hands.
“I needed to see you.” At least that wasn’t a lie. “Everything has . . . Everything has changed so quickly.” Padmé kept her eyes locked onto his, watching for any sign of danger. “I’ve heard awful things about what happened at the Temple.” Padmé had naively hoped she’d see regret at saying that. Instead, his expression was blank. “They’re all dead, Anakin.”
His voice nearly made her forget about the heat, and it took all of her willpower to stay standing. Padmé waited for him to say more, but he was just staring at her, rubbing his thumb over her cheekbone.
“What did you do?” she whispered.
“I brought peace to the galaxy, Padmé. The war is finally over.” He let go of her and became animated, pacing back and forth, a smile on his face that made the nausea come back full-force. “We can raise our child together out in the open, no more hiding. We can spend all our time together now since I won’t be going off-world anymore. I’ll let you continue being a senator, though.”
“How gracious of you,” she said with more venom than she meant to.
That made him stop, and he narrowed his eyes slightly. “What’s wrong? You’re angry. Why are you angry? Isn’t this everything you wanted?”
Padmé was left blinking at him in stunned silence. Was he truly that far gone?
He rushed at her, his grip on her shoulders bordering on painful. “What is it? Why have you come here, Padmé?” He shook her once. “Tell me the truth!”
“Let her go, Anakin!”
Padmé turned and saw Obi-Wan standing at the end of the ramp. She had failed, but she suddenly realized that she never had a chance. It was already too late.
“You!” Anakin bellowed. “You’ve turned her against me!”
Quickly backing away, now that his attention was no longer on her, she looked at Obi-Wan and pleaded with her eyes not to do it. A fight would surely mean death for one of them, and even after everything, she couldn’t bear to lose either of them.
“I have not,” Obi-Wan replied as he shed his robe. “You’ve done that all on your own.”
Anakin stared at him, his cybernetic hand clenching into a fist. “Leave now, and I’ll spare you.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.”
She didn’t think Anakin could hear the sorrow in Obi-Wan’s voice. He only called his lightsaber to his hand and ignited it while Obi-Wan did the same. Seconds later, beams of blue energy were swinging and clashing, making sounds Padmé could no longer stand. She ran toward them, shouting, but she was thrown back violently when Anakin stretched out a hand, not even turning to look at her. The impact brought a bright flash of pain and then darkness.
Padmé opened her eyes.
She sat up quickly, her hands clenching . . . a sheet? Startled, Padmé looked down and saw she was in a bed, in her bed in her Coruscant apartment. Even more worrying, she wasn’t pregnant. Panic made her breath quicken as she pat her stomach like she could somehow find the missing baby. When bed rocked slightly, she whipped her head to the side to find Anakin squinting up at her with bleary eyes.
Before he could say a word, she jumped out of the bed and ran to the fresher. The nausea she’d been feeling in her dream had become a reality, and she vomited into the toilet. That was a dream, right? The vividness of it disoriented her for a moment.
“Hey, are you alright?” Anakin asked from the doorway.
Padmé flinched, hoping he wouldn’t come any closer. “I’m-I’m okay. I must’ve eaten something that didn’t agree with me.” She could feel him hovering. “Really, I’m fine. Go back to bed.” Please just get away from me.
He hesitated before saying, “Call if you need anything.”
It was only a dream, a very long one. It felt like a year’s worth of events that she could remember with too much clarity had been crammed into her head. She had never remembered a dream that well before. She didn’t even know what day it was, which was ridiculous, but she couldn’t ask Anakin. Padmé didn’t even want to look at him, and that was just irrational. He hadn’t done anything. He hadn’t turned to the dark side or committed mass murder.
It took her longer than she’d like to go back to bed, and her sleep after that was fitful.
The morning was worse. Padmé tried her best to act normal around him, but she could tell he noticed something wasn’t right. The dream had shaken her so much that even the acting skills she learned before taking the throne were failing her. Thankfully, he had to be at the Temple early.
“I’ll try to see you tonight, but if I can’t get away, don’t be too sad.”
“I’m on leave, remember?” He gave her an odd look. “Like a prize for saving the Chancellor’s life on Naboo.”
Chancellor . . . Naboo . . . She couldn’t place it. Why couldn’t she remember what day it was?
“Padmé, are you sure you’re—”
“I’m fine, Anakin. I have to get ready for work.”
She didn’t mean to snap at him, but she was tired and frustrated. He seemed to take it in stride, though. After all, he had a politician for a wife, and a politician was frequently under a lot of stress. At least she didn’t flinch when he gave her a peck on the cheek.
On the way to her office, she found out it was a few days after Palpatine was captured by Dooku on Naboo. She remembered pretending to be horrified at Obi-Wan’s appearance once he got his own face back before laughing at him along with Anakin. He looked so strange bald and clean shaven, and Padmé was grateful hair growth drugs existed. She was even more grateful that Obi-Wan had told Anakin to clue her in on the Rako Hardeen plot. While her relationship with him was still somewhat new, she would have been furious at him for allowing her to believe he was dead.
Feeling better after getting a firm grasp of the timeline, she tried her best to forget the dream and get on with her day. Threepio brought her the agenda and a glass of water, but as soon as she saw what bills were being considered, she called him back over.
“These bills were already passed.”
“I beg your pardon? Did I give you the wrong agenda, Mistress Padmé?”
She looked at the date. “No, you didn’t, but I know these bills were passed. The one about Carida passed by a single vote. I remember because a fight nearly broke out afterwards.”
“I’m afraid I . . . don’t know what to say to that.”
Padmé shook her head and told him not to worry. It wasn’t like it would actually happen.
Except it did. Three senators had to be escorted out, and the Senate almost couldn’t get back on track, but she barely paid attention. Instead, Padmé sat there in muted shock. For the rest of the day, she had a sense of déjà vu and was left wondering if her dream was some kind of premonition. That didn’t sound right, though, because she’d never heard of one being that long and detailed. Obi-Wan complained once about his occasional premonitions being so vague that he didn’t understand what the point of them was. Padmé wished she could ask him about it, but she remembered he was away on an emergency mission and was out of contact.
She really hoped it was just a bizarre dream because if it wasn’t, the Republic would fall and so would Anakin.
Ahsoka did enjoy being on leave, but she never actually knew what to do with herself when she wasn’t fighting. A small part of her grieved for the lost way of Jedi life, when they were peacekeepers instead of soldiers. She hadn’t experienced that herself, but she’d heard stories from Knights and Masters. She knew not all Jedi agreed with their role in the war, and she wasn’t really sure how she felt about it since it was all she’d known after becoming a padawan. Anakin didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he wished they did more than just what the Senate told them to do. After the whole Zygerrian affair, he told her in a rare moment of opening up that his childhood dream was to free all of the slaves. Then he learned the Jedi didn’t really care about slaves. Ahsoka thought that was a little harsh, but she understood why he’d come to that conclusion. Thinking back to their second mission together, she felt a little sick to her stomach that he was made to help a slaver.
If there was anyone Ahsoka could talk to about conflicted feelings regarding the war, it was Padmé. She hadn’t seen the senator in a while, and even if she was too busy to talk, maybe Ahsoka could help her. She needed something to do that wasn’t sparring or studying.
After Threepio announced her arrival, Padmé walked over to her, embracing her in a way only Master Plo did when no one was looking. “I hope I’m not interrupting,” Ahsoka said as they parted.
“Nonsense.” Padmé’s smile was bright, but her eyes looked troubled. “I was just about to order lunch. You want some?”
“Sure! I could really go for food that’s not from the commissary.” The food at the Temple wasn’t awful, but it’d been the same four choices for the past year. Between that and the ration bars out on the front, she was dying for something different.
While they waited for the food to be delivered, Ahsoka told her all the embarrassing things Anakin had done since the last time they spoke. She even had a few embarrassing stories about Obi-Wan. Padmé had a nice laugh, and it always made Ahsoka feel a little lighter, but it sounded different today.
Once Ahsoka had finished her noodles, she asked gently, “Is something wrong?”
Padmé hesitated and looked down at her bowl. “Have you ever had a dream that felt so real you almost swore it actually happened?”
“Not really, which is definitely a good thing since most of my dreams are nightmares.” She shrugged at Padmé’s frown. “War will do that.”
Padmé stirred her noodles around for a bit before giving up on them and placing her hands in her lap. Then she told Ahsoka about the strangest dream she had ever heard of. It was a year’s worth of war and politics in vivid detail, and some of it had actually come true. Ahsoka couldn’t help but feel like Padmé was leaving out something important, though.
“You probably think I’m crazy for even questioning it,” Padmé said with what sounded like a forced laugh.
“Not at all. I agree it doesn’t sound like a premonition, but I can try looking it up in the Archives. It’ll only be in relation to Force-sensitives, but it’s worth a shot.”
Padmé looked somewhat hopeful before she sat up a little straighter. “Just to erase any doubt, I remember that around this time, there was a major accident at one of the shipyards on Kuat. Hundreds of people lost their lives, and a Jedi Cruiser was destroyed. I remember thinking the loss of life could have been far worse considering how much damage was done. And then there was the speculation that it was actually a Separatist attack. The topic was discussed in the Senate and on the HoloNet for weeks.”
Ahsoka nodded slowly. That’s really specific.
When Ahsoka was about to leave, Padmé thanked her for taking her seriously, and she suggested they exchange comm frequencies for the sake of convenience. Ahsoka felt somewhat honored that Padmé trusted her enough to tell her about it, especially since it seemed like she hadn’t even told Anakin.
In the Archives, Ahsoka was overwhelmed by the amount of information on dreams, but most of it was philosophical gibberish. She asked Master Nu for help, and they were able to narrow it down a little. However, after a few hours of research, Ahsoka had found nothing that sounded remotely like what Padmé experienced. Thanking Master Nu on her way out, Ahsoka was at a loss for what to do next. She supposed she could ask Master Yoda, but he’d know right away that it was Padmé’s dream she was describing since it wasn’t like Ahsoka spoke with a lot of non-Jedi. She’d heard him and Master Windu mention that Anakin was a little too close to the senator, so they probably assumed Ahsoka was friends with her as well. Something told her Padmé wouldn’t appreciate Master Yoda’s involvement anyway.
“Hey, Snips.” Anakin was walking toward her, his shoulders slumped a bit.
“Master.” She nodded in greeting. “You look terrible.”
He snorted. “Thanks. You look like you want to punch something.” He raised an eyebrow. “Or maybe someone?”
“No, I just spent hours in the Archives and have nothing to show for it.”
“Oh, so you didn’t hear then.”
From his tone, it didn’t sound like good news. Did they suffer a major loss in a battle? “Hear about what?”
“What happened on Kuat. There was some kind of massive explosion, and they lost a Cruiser. No word yet on the number of casualties, though.”
Ahsoka stopped breathing. It wasn’t that she hadn’t believed Padmé, but she’d been hoping for some explanation that didn’t sound as ridiculous as “she’s from the future” because that was the only thing Ahsoka could come up with. Padmé had even said it felt like she’d actually lived it, not just dreamed it. But time travel? That wasn’t possible, right?
“Ahsoka, are you okay?”
She snapped out of it. “Yeah, sorry. I’m just tired.”
“I bet. The only person I know who looks refreshed after doing research is Obi-Wan.”
Ahsoka huffed out a laugh and walked passed him, saying she was going to lie down for a bit. She could feel his concern through their bond, but she was thankful he was giving her some space. She’d had words with him the last time he’d noticed something was bothering her. Sometimes, Anakin cared a little too much, and it could be suffocating.
She decided she was going to take a nap, eat dinner, and then comm Padmé and try to figure out what the hell was going on.
When Padmé saw the news about Kuat, she was absolutely certain that the “dream” was not a dream at all. She died and woke up in the past. She said it out loud just to see if it sounded as crazy as she thought it did, but she knew it was the truth. Everything from the last two days had felt familiar in a way she couldn’t describe. Padmé had never expected her exceptional memory to be useful for knowing what was going to happen for the next year.
What was going to happen . . .
She tried her best to ignore the growing horror as flashes of smoke rising from the Temple, senators cheering for the loss of democracy, and dark eyes full of contempt flashed across her mind. It slowly became too much, and she decided to call it a day and head home. She didn’t even have the stomach for dinner a few hours later.
What was she going to do? The Republic was being run by a Sith Lord. The entire war was a farce. At least since none of that was actually news to her, she didn’t get too emotional about it. She’d already gone through the stages of anger and despair. She had been hoping all of it was a dream she could brush off. But she realized the fall of the Republic wasn’t supposed to happen for another year. There was time to change it all. Padmé wasn’t sure what she could do on her own, but maybe with Ahsoka’s help, they could think of something. That meant she’d have to tell her the ugly truths she had kept to herself earlier. She didn’t want to think about how heartbroken Ahsoka would be to learn about not only the betrayal of her friend and the Council but of Anakin as well. She’d also know what monstrous things he was capable of doing.
As if on cue, Anakin appeared on her veranda. Looking at him, she could only think about the fact that he killed her. As he walked up to her, arms held out to embrace her, Padmé put a hand up to stop him. “I’m sorry. I’m not feeling well tonight, so I’ll make terrible company.” That technically wasn’t a lie.
“Are you sick? Can I get you anything? I can give you a foot rub if that’ll help.”
Sometimes, Anakin could be so sweet. It was jarring to look at him and know he’d kill a room full of younglings one day. No, that’s not fair. It’s not inevitable.
“Thank you, but no. I think I’m just going to go to bed early and hope the extra sleep will take care of whatever this is.”
His face fell slightly before he covered it up with a too-bright smile. “Okay. Don’t hesitate to comm me if you need anything, even if it’s in the middle of the night.”
She couldn’t help but smile back at him. “I have people who can do that for me, you know.”
“Yeah, I know,” he said, the look on his face reminding her of when he was a boy.
It only took a few more minutes to convince him to leave, and when he finally did, Padmé realized her chest had felt tight the entire time he was there. How long would it take to trust him again?
Her comlink went off, and she was relieved to find out it was Ahsoka.
“You really aren’t crazy, not that I thought you were before.”
“I almost wish I was. There are . . . certain events I left out that you should know. Can you meet me tomorrow, same time?”
“No problem. I can bring food.”
“I think you’ll want an empty stomach.”
There was silence for a moment before she said quietly, “So it’s that bad.”
“It’s worse, but I’m hoping we can make sure none of it happens.”
Because if it did, the entire galaxy was doomed.