Chapter 20

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We Pretend It's Alright

We Pretend It's Alright

(Two weeks after the twins are born)

Anakin couldn't stop looking at them, so small, so fragile. The twins lay in cradles in front of him, both sleeping and wrapped in pale yellow blankets. Leia's little hand reached up next to her head and Anakin reveled at her little fingers. She was so small, they both were. It scared him a bit, but more so he felt a fierce desire to protect them at all costs. It was like how he felt for Padme, but stronger. Maybe it was because while Padme was very capable of protecting herself, the twins weren't. He was their shield.

"Anakin?" Padme's groggy whisper entered the room as she stood in the doorway of the room. It was the middle of the night, Anakin had gone to comfort the twins when he and Padme has been awaken by the sound of crying from their room. But that had been over an hour ago and Padme has finally come looking for her husband. She had stood silently for a moment before calling his name, appreciating the image of her husband staring lovingly at their children.

Anakin looked up at her voice and bade the twins one last look before standing up and meeting Padme at the door. He pressed a loving kiss to her lips before leading her back to their room, both needing more sleep than either had gotten in the last two weeks.

Two weeks, it felt like a lifetime to Anakin. Two weeks ago, he had been cleared of his charges, the twins had been born, Padme had almost died, he had almost died, and Ahsoka sacrificed herself to save them all. It didn't seem right when he thought about it, how did it all happen so quickly? He had spent months in cells, waiting for this all to happen. It had happened, but he felt like he had missed a step along the way.

Now, laying in the bedroom he was sharing with Padme at her parent's house in Theed, he stared at the ceiling, contemplating how much his life had changed in the three months since Sidious's murder. He had been kicked out of the Jedi Order, was a suspected Sith lord, had gotten Ahsoka back and lost her again, seen the end of a war that had enveloped his life for years, and become a father. Here he was, living on Naboo with nothing to do now but be a father. A lifetime of responsibilities was gone, replaced with a new, incomparable one. How had he gone from a feared war general to an outcasted father of two so quickly?

He turned his gaze from the ceiling and looked at Padme who was laying beside him, her eyes closed and her breathing soft. Her presence calmed his thoughts, it always did. He couldn't believe he had almost lost her. This new life was possible because he had her with him. He could handle this because he had her to figure it out with him.

As different as his life would be now, he was looking forward to dealing with angry babies instead of angry Sith lords.

The babies wouldn't try to kill him at least… hopefully.

We Pretend It's Alright

"Have you seen Luke's socks?"

"By the table in the family room. Did you feed Leia yet?"

"Umm, we are working on, someone is being a little fussy today."

"I hope you mean you." Padme joked, brushing past her husband and kissing him on the cheek.

"Hey, you try being up night with two screaming babies!" Anakin grumbled as he prepared a second bottle.

Padme laughed as she left the room to find Luke's socks. Today marked their third week on Naboo and they were finally moving into their new house. With no time to plan ahead of time, Anakin and Padme had landed on Naboo three weeks ago with no plan. Getting there had been their plan, and once they did, they came up short.

Thinking quick, Padme had called her parents while Anakin had checked in on Naboo, and within a few hours they were settled into her parent's little house in Theed. With three bedrooms, Anakin and Padme took one and Padme's mother set up the other guest room with Padme's old cradle and one Padme's sister, Sola, brought over from when her daughters were little. Anakin, who had only met Padme's family once when they had come to Naboo a few years ago as Senator and Jedi protector, was not sure how they would react to him. The combination of being newly freed from prison after being accused of murdering the leader of the Republic and the fact that Padme's family had been kept in the dark about their relationship did not bode well for Anakin, but he was surprised how welcoming they were to him. He supposed arriving with their grandchildren did help.

Padme's mother, Sobal, had wrapped him in a tight hug when they arrived on the doorstep of the Naberrie's home.

"I'm so glad you are here." She had said, pulling back and giving him a knowing smile. Anakin had instantly liked her, as the stress of the last three months seemed to sink over him as they went inside. Padme's father, Ruwee, had been a little cautious of him at first, but after seeing how he was with caring for Padme and the twins, he decided Anakin couldn't be as bad as the papers said. He welcomed his son-in-law and was thankful Padme was with someone who cared so deeply for her and their children.

For the first week of their stay, Padme was on bedrest after the difficulty of her birth and near-death experience. With Padme napping the afternoon after they had arrived, Anakin had had the misfortune to have to greet Sola Naberrie without Padme as a buffer.

(The morning after the Skywalker family's arrival)

"Where is she?"

Anakin and the Naberrie's had looked up in surprise when Sola Naberrie had bust into the house a few hours after Anakin and Padme's arrival.

"Sola, shh, the babies are sleeping." Ruwee scolded, frowning at her as he looked down at little Leia, who was sleeping in her grandfather's arms.

"I- babies?" Sola stood shell-shocked as she looked at her father with Leia and then to the couch where her mother sat with Anakin, Luke sleeping soundly on Anakin's lap. When she saw Anakin, her eyes narrowed, and her voice returned to her.

"I need to talk with you" She hissed, distrust all over her face. "Now."

"Sola, really-" Jobal started to say, but Anakin held up a hand, carefully transferring Luke to his Grandmother's lap as he stood up, following Sola through the house and out into the small yard behind the home.

"I don't know much about you Mr. Jedi Master-"

"I'm not a Jedi, so that's one less thing you know." Anakin mused, sitting down on a chair along the backside of the house, running a hand though his hair as he felt fatigue radiate through his body. He closed his eyes briefly and opened them to find Sola glaring murderously at him. "Sorry, you were saying?" He offered, slumping back in the cushy chair and enjoying the evening breeze that was rippling through the small yard, the quiet hum of the city around them.

"I was saying I don't trust you. You were an allusive figure through the war and then were accused of trying to take over the Galaxy. Padme hardly mentions you for years, then all the sudden you are the father of my niece and nephew and her husband? I don't understand it, I don't understand you." She said very quickly, her eyes still narrowed as she looked down at him. "What are you doing?"

"If only I knew." Anakin joked, shaking back his shaggy hair, now grown to his shoulders after the months of imprisonment. "I only have one thing left to do: take care of my family, protect them, and love them. Isn't that what we are all trying to do, protect the ones we love? Isn't that why you are confronting me? You're trying to protect Padme, she's your sister. I understand that you want to look out for her." Anakin said, looking up at Sola though piercing blue eyes. "But the truth is you can't. Neither can I, I've learned that."

"What do you mean you learned that." Sola asked, frowning at his choice of words.

"I- well… I've been focused on saving Padme for a long time, on keeping her safe. It has created a lot of problems and people I love have gotten hurt over it." Anakin admitted, shifting his gaze downwards as an image of Ahsoka's unconscious body in that medical bay sofa floated into his mind. "Padme was trying to save all of you, keep you safe. That's why she didn't tell you, why we didn't tell anyone. Don't be mad at her for that. She was doing what she thought was right."

"I... I'm not mad." Sola said after a pause. She sat down beside him, the anger seeming to die within her as she listened to the exhausted man beside him. "I understand why she did it, I just wish she hadn't."

"People never want to be protected." Anakin agreed, thinking of the look on Padme's face as they had discussed his attempted self-sacrifice. "Doesn't mean we don't try to protect them anyway."

Sola nodded and the two sat in silent for a minute, the weight of their conversation hanging over them.

"Is she happy?" Sola finally asked, still looking off towards the city.

"I think so." Anakin replied, his gaze turning toward the window he knew connected to the room Padme lay within. "She's been through more than anyone should go through over the last few months, but it worked out. Maybe not the way it should of, but she ended the war, had the twins…"

"She got you." Sola added, turning to him with a small smile. "I watched your trial, they broadcast it all over the Republic. I saw the way you talked about her, the way you looked at her. If she loves you half as much as you love her, you two are going to have a long happy life together."

"I hope." Anakin said, a small smile on his face. "She loves you all very much, she's told me so much about you and your daughters, I'm excited to meet them again."

"I'm going to bring them by in the morning." Sola said. "I didn't want to overwhelm you all."

"I'm sure she'll be happy to see them."

Silence fell over the pair again, the sun dipping lower in the sky as the minutes passed peacefully.

"Are you happy?"

Anakin blinked at Sola's question. After all that had happened…

"Happier than I've ever been."

Sola turned her gaze towards the man beside her, the man she knew so much of and so little of. What she saw was not the Hero- With-Oo-fear, not a Jedi, not a criminal. She saw a man, a tired man, reveling in the wonder of fatherhood. It was then she knew Padme would be alright. Anakin wasn't about to let her down anytime soon.

"We should be getting back inside." Sola said after another moment of silence, the sun now very low in the sky. "I want to get to know my niece and nephew properly."

"Luke and Leia." Anakin said as they stood up, heading back towards the house.

"Beautiful." Sola said, and Anakin could hear the love in her voice. Suddenly, he knew having Sola around would be a good thing. More family for Padme, for the twins… for him.

Twenty minutes later a pajama clad Padme slumped into the room.

"Anakin, have you fed Luke yet?" Padme asked, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes and not registering who else had joined the group.

"We are all fed and ready for family naptime." Anakin smiled, walking up to Padme with the twins in his arms and brushing a kiss against her forehead. "I'll be in the bedroom."

"Okay-" Padme broke off when she caught sight of Sola as Anakin moved past her, leaving Sola right in Padme's line of vision. Surprise shone on her face as looked at the woman she had barley seen over the last few years, a sister she had forced herself to distance herself from to protect.

"Sola."

"Hi Padme." Sola smiled, breaking the tension as she moved forward and engulfed her sister in a hug.

Padme relaxed into the hug instantly, finding comfort in the familiarity of her sister's arms.

"We have a lot of catching up to do." Sola murmured, finally pulling back to see a tear in Padme's eye. "I want to hear everything."

We Pretend It's Alright

(The first night on Naboo)

"Anakin, what are you doing out here?"

Anakin was sitting outside behind Padme's parents house, his head in his hands. After he has been missing for a bit over an hour, Padme had decided to come check on him, slightly worried.

Anakin didn't reply, but looked up at his wife, tears sparkling in his blue eyes.

"Ani." Padme said sympathetically, coming to sit beside him and wrapping her arms around the thin man. They sat in silence for another minute as a few more tears rolled down Anakin's cheeks, both of them looking outward towards the city of Theed.

"I'm so sorry, Padme." Anakin finally said, his voice hoarse. "I should never had put you through this, I shouldn't have put any of you through this."

"It wasn't your fault, Anakin." Padme murmured, turning his face to look at her. "I would do it all over again."

"I know you would." Anakin said, thinking with a pang of what Obi Wan had said to him about Ahsoka.

"Ahsoka will be okay." Padme said quietly, sensing what was relay bothering him. "She has the best care possible and she will recover."

"How do you know?" Anakin asked weakly.

"I just do." Padme said, starting to tear up herself now as she put on a smile for both of them. "She'll be here playing with the twins before we know it."

Anakin didn't say anything but smiled, closing his eyes and resting his forehead agsint hers, letting the feeling of their connection and Padme's presence fill him. They sat like this for a while, just being with each other they way they had wanted to for months, years really.

"Anakin." Padme said finally, moving to rest her head on his shoulder. "We do need to talk about it though."

"I know." Anakin said softly. "I don't regret what I did, only that I taught Ahsoka about it"

"I don't want you to sacrifice yourself for me, ever."

"I cannot promise that, Padme."

"I need you to try, for me. The twins need their father just as much as their mother." Padme said, a quiet fierceness in her voice as a cool night breeze blew by them. "I don't even fully understand what you tried to do, but please don't do it again.

Anakin nodded, brushing a kiss on her forehead as sat in silence, both unable to shake the feelings now filling them.

We Pretend It's Alright

(Two months after twin's birth)

"Alright, work with me here." Anakin muttered exasperatedly to his two month-old daughter. Leia seemed to take no notice of her father's frustration and continued to kick her feet, making it difficult for Anakin to place her tiny shoes on her very tiny feet.

"Leia, I know you don't understand this, but today is an important day." Anakin continued, wrestling with the foot that kept moving just out of his grasp. "Your brother was a good boy and let me put his shoes on. Can't you be like your brother?" Anakin glanced over at Luke with a smile. Luke was laying in his pram, watching with wide-eyes as his father struggled to clothe his sister. Then, like clockwork, Luke began bawling, his screams filling the room as Anakin instantly regretted his words.

"No Luke don't cry." He implored, placing Leia back in her pram, still shoeless, and scooping Luke up into his arms and rocking his slowly. "Come on buddy, don't cry, shh." He murmured as he rocked his son, looking down at Leia whose lip had begun to quiver at her brother's cries.

"Don't do it." Anakin begged, knowing what was coming. Leia burst out crying and both babies' cries echoed through the room of their four-bedroom cottage on a remote lake in Naboo about an hour's speeder ride from Theed.

Hastily, Anakin moved Luke to his other shoulder and scooped up Leia as well, rocking both children back and forth as he willed them to stop crying. The twins were certainly attuned to each other. The minute one started crying, the other was soon to follow. It would be cute, if it didn't mean two screaming babies instead of one. A minute or two later, it was clear that rocking was not going to do the trick.

"Okay, Daddy knows, Daddy knows." Anakin murmured, moving to the sofa and carefully setting the twins down leaned against the wall of pillows Padme kept on the sofa. Securing each one with pillows on either side, Anakin sat before them and raised his hands. Reaching out with the Force, a calm filled the room and the twins froze in amazement as Anakin started to levitate their plush loth cats in front of them. The babies quieted as they watched the toys move up and down, almost as if they were alive. Finally, he used the Force to place the toys down beside the twins, who cooed and grabbed onto them, babbling in excitement.

"Isn't that cheating?"

Anakin turned with a sheepish grin to see Padme standing in the doorway, one eye raised in amusement as she regarded her family in front of her. She stepped into the room, looking as regal as her days as queen. She was dressed in a beautiful, intricate blue gown with embroidered white flowers that matched the ones placed in her elaborate hairstyle. Today the family was going to meet with the Queen of Naboo, and Padme was going to address the planet's citizens at a celebration thrown in her honor. Since the end of the Clone Wars and their arrival to Naboo, the Queen has been insistent on celebrating Padme's work in the negotiations. Finally, having been on Naboo for two months and the fanfare around Anakin's trial having died down a bit, they felt it would be safe to attend such a public event. Anakin would have rather avoided that whole event, but Padme had pointed out how accommodating the Queen had been to their arrival, and especially to harboring Anakin in a time were many systems would be eager to turn him away. So, a little reluctantly in Anakin's case, the Skywalkers would be attending this ceremony of honor today.

"You look incredible." Anakin said, walking towards his wife and kissing her. "The Queen won't hold a candle to you."

"Oh stop." Padme giggled, swatting his arm playfully. Anakin, not going to let that slide, began tickling Padme, who fought, laughing, until they stood, Anakin's arms wrapped around her, looking down at their children on the sofa, who were watching their parents with big smiles, the tears of a few minutes ago forgotten. Padme looked up at Anakin, pure happiness in his eyes as he looked from her to the twins, the distant view of the peaceful lake in the large window to their left.

"Why didn't we do this years ago?" He murmured, gently picking Padme up and bring her to the sofa where he gently set her down and then proceeding to joining his family on the sofa taking Luke in his arms and as Padme held Leia.

"Oh I don't know, maybe a war and a Jedi oath?" Padme smiled, getting a laugh from Anakin as he leaned over and kissed her lightly on the forehead.

"Well we sure took care of those didn't we?" He grinned back.

Padme smiled, looking down to see Leia's one shoeless foot. "Ani, is there a reason Leia only has one shoe?"

"Well about that-"

"Mistress Padme, the Queen's escorts have arrived for you, Master Ani, Master Luke, and Mistress Leia." Threepio entered the room, interrupting the moment in his usual manner.

"Thank you, Threepio." Padme said as Anakin frowned. "Tell them we will be ready in a minute and let them into the house."

"Of course Mistress Padme." Threepio said, leaving the room.

"I am more than enough to protect our family." Anakin said, trying and failing not to let his annoyance enter his voice as he stood up, placing Luke in back in the pram and handing Padme Leia's other shoe.

"The Queen wanted to send an escort, it's not a big deal, Anakin." Padme reminded him, giving him a look that clearly said, 'do not argue'. "Where is Leia's pram?" She asked as she slipped the shoe onto the now squirming baby's foot, not without difficulty.

"It's in the entry way. She has been a little fussy, so I was going to put her the sling to make sure she feels comfortable. The crowd may be a lot, I will probably hold Luke too once we get there, but he seems alright for now in the pram." Anakin explained, puling the light blue sling Sola had given them over his broad shoulders and accepting Leia from Padme.

Padme nodded, knowing as she watched Anakin place Leia carefully in the sling that it was much more about his comfortableness than Leia's. She knew he was nervous about this, no matter how he tried to hide it. Well most people believe he was innocent, not everyone did. To add to his paranoia, Palpatine had been from Naboo and Anakin expected him to have supporters here. But Padme wasn't worried. The Queen has assured her the people were with them and that there would be strict security on the lookout for any trouble. Still, she would be surprised if Anakin didn't have both twins strapped to his chest the whole time.

"Do you have the twins' overnight back?" She asked, getting to her feet. They were going to stay at her parents after the celebration in Theed rather than traveling back that night.

"It's next to Leia's pram in the entry way. Did you grab a few things for you and me?"

"Yes, the bag is on our bed, I'll grab it. " Anakin said, picking up the twins back up gently and securing them in the double sling he had placed around his chest.

"Ani," Padme called, just as he was about the leave the room. Anakin stopped, turning his head as his hand hesitated on the doorway. "Are you bringing your lightsaber?"

"Yes." He said shortly, holding her gaze. "Just in case."

"Nothing is going to happen," Padme reassured him, walking towards him and resting her hand on her shoulder. "Nothing."

Anakin took he hand a kissed it gently. "I know, Angel. But I have to." He smiled at her before leaving the room, a cooing Leia and Luke squirming in the sling.

An hour later, they were zooming to the Palace in Theed.

We Pretend It's Alright

(On Coruscant)

Ahsoka felt like she has been hit by a space cruiser. Like coming out of a deep haze, the young woman started to hear noises around her, the whirl of machines, the sound of footsteps in the distance. She shifted her head slightly, trying to regain any feeling of control over her motions.

"Ahsoka?"

The voice surprised her; she knew that voice. Motivated to see the speaker, Ahsoka slowly opened her eyes, blinking slowly as the world swam before her, her eyesight taking a minute to come into focus. It was bright, she saw a window to her left. Sunlight shone into the room and Ahsoka looked away, the light too harsh for her sensitive eyes. Turning, she saw Riyo.

The Pantoran sat at her bedside, a soft smile on her lips as she nervously looked at Ahsoka. Her pale pink hair hung limp around her face, bags under her tired eyes. Yet, she had never looked so beautiful to Ahsoka.

"Ahsoka, can you hear me?" Riyo asked breathlessly, her hands reaching out and grabbing Ahsoka's hand. She gave it a comforting squeeze.

"Yeea-" Ahsoka rasped, struggling to speak. She felt like she was in a dream. What had happened? Where was she? "Wheeere-" She managed to say, squeezing Riyo's hand back weakly.

"You are in the medical center, Ahsoka. Do you remember what happened?" Riyo asked gently, worry clouding her eyes.

Ahsoka thought for a minute, briefly closing her eyes. It rushed back to her. Padme, the twins, and Anakin… What had happened?

"Aaanakin?" Ahsoka asked, opening her eyes again, her brow furling as she looked imploringly. "Paadme?"

"They are fine Ahsoka, you saved them." Riyo reassured her, smiling at the woman. She wasn't there, but Padme has told her what happened. How Ahsoka has used the Force to save Anakin, how she almost given her life to save them. "They are on Naboo, together. They didn't want to leave you, but they had to go."

Ahsoka nodded, understanding. The trial… Anakin's parole that meant he had to go. It was all returning to her as she lay in the bed, watching Riyo smile at her. Then a thought struck her.

"How long?" She asked, her voice already sounding a bit stronger. She looked at Riyo, who's smile seemed to harden as she replied.

"Just about two months, you've been unconscious. The medic said you were almost dead at the beginning; your heart rate was so low. Some days, we weren't sure you were going to make it…" Riyo trailed off, fear flashing on her face.

Ahsoka instantly felt guilt. She hadn't wanted to cause this pain, not to Riyo or anyone. She looked away, a lump forming in the back of her throat.

"But you kept getting better, every day." Riyo continued, her smile renewing as she squeezed Ahsoka's hand again. "The life came back to you, little by little. I'm so glad you are okay Ahsoka."

"Thank you." Ahsoka murmured, turning her head back to Riyo. "I don't deserve-"

"Don't you dare finish that sentence, Ahsoka Tano." Riyo threatened, furling her brow at the thin woman. "You deserve love and having people care about you, and don't let me here you say otherwise. I chose to spend time here with you. I would spend another year waiting if I had to." Riyo stared Ahsoka down, hoping the woman was really hearing what she was saying.

"Riyo, I…I don't know what to say." Ahsoka finally said, a warm and fuzzy sensation still filling her after Riyo's words. Was Riyo saying what she thought she was?

"You don't have to say anything." Riyo whispered back, leaning closer to Ahsoka. Before either knew what was happening, their lips met.

We Pretend It's Alright

"Well, that wasn't so bad." Anakin admitted as he joined Padme on the balcony of the room they were saying in at her parent's home in Theed. He left the door open as he cast a glance back at the sleeping twins before turning his gaze back to his wife. Padme looked as beautiful as ever, staring out over the city still dressed in her ceremonial gown from the festival. She had let her hair down and the night's breeze blew it gently as she looked up at the fireworks that continued to go off from the Palace.

She turned her head to look at Anakin, who was leaning on the rail looking at her with such adoration.

"Hold me." She said simply. She closed her eyes as his arms wrapped around her from behind, her hands clutching his forearms to her. Three months ago, she thought Anakin may never live to see their children born. Now, he held her as a free man, and she felt like she had all those years ago by the lake on Naboo.

"Anakin?"

"Yes Angel?" Anakin said, resting his chin on top of her head as he breathed in the sweet smell of her hair.

"Never leave me again."

"Never."

We Pretend It's Alright

(Five months since birth, three since Ahsoka woke up)

"Are you alright, do you need to sit down?" Riyo asked a little nervously as she led Ahsoka into her apartment, watching for a falter in her step.

"I'm fine, Ri." Ahsoka smiled, walking slowly inside and making her way towards the sitting room. "I promise I am not overdoing it."

"The doctor did say only light activity for the next month."

"And walking from the speeder inside is light activity." Ahsoka pointed out, turning to the Senator as she leaned against the back of a sofa. "Don't be nervous, they wouldn't have let me leave if they didn't think I could walk across a room."

Riyo still looked a little hesitant but relaxed as she saw the happiness on Ahsoka's face.

"I just worry about you, that's all." Riyo said, moving closer to Ahsoka and putting her arms around her shoulders. "Forgive me if I just got you out of the medical unit and don't want to see you back there."

Ahsoka placed a soft kiss on her lips. "I know, but it's been three months since I woke up and one since I got out of the Medical Unit, I am doing a lot better. I'll be starting physical training again soon and I'll be back to normal in no time."

"Yes you will, but until then humor me. I don't want to lose you again, okay?" Riyo replied, kissing Ahsoka again before pulling back. "Now sit yourself down while I grab us some lunch."

"Do you have a Senate session today?" Ahsoka asked following Riyo into the kitchen and sitting down at the table.

"Yes, we are having the final arguments for the new Senate leadership today. A few worlds are still holding out over the resolution to replace the Chancellor position with a council of three Chancellors. I think it is a great plan, having a representative from the core, mid-rim, and outer-rim planets all serving together and making joint decisions. Equal representation and no one person has too much power. I'm glad Senator Organa is leading the case for it. As winner of the emergency election, having him in support has convinced most worlds to sign on."

"What about the worlds who are opposed?" Ahsoka asked, thanking Riyo as she sat down next to Ahsoka, bringing two plates of sandwiches with her. "Do they have the power to stop this?"

"I don't think they can. Those opposed hold a small margin and after today, the worlds on the fence will join us."

"What's happening today that will convince them?" Ahsoka asked curiously, taking a bite of her sandwich.

"Oh… I didn't tell you, did I? I just found out late last night after you were asleep and I meant to tell you, but with your appointment this morning I completely forgot." Riyo said, a smile spreading over her face. "Senator Amidala is coming to the Senate today to make a case for the council of Chancellors."

"WHAT!" Ahsoka exclaimed, dropping her sandwich in shock. "Padme is coming, and you forgot to tell me?"

"I'm sorry, she just decided to yesterday, special favor to Bail Organa. She called me to tell me last night." Riyo explained, trying to calm Ahsoka down. "She asked if she could come by later to see you, Ahsoka. I hope that's alright?"

"I- yeah, of course." Ahsoka said, shaking her head as she tried to process this. "I can't believe she is coming. She isn't bringing Luke and Leia, is she?"

"No, she said Anakin would be staying with them for the few days she is here." Riyo replied, placing her hand over Ahsoka's as the Torgruta nodded.

"I hope Skyguy is ready for that." Ahsoka grinned, thinking about Anakin being alone with the twins for a few days. From what he has told her, they were quite a handful.

Since Ahsoka has woken up three months ago, she and Anakin had been talking almost every day. He had blamed himself for a while, but she had convinced him that he wasn't to blame, and she had made her own choice. It had taken a long time for her to regain enough strength to sit up, and then to begin walking. Now, three months later, she was able to move around without help and was confident in her step, but she was still a ways from running and jumping through the streets of Coruscant like she used to. Anakin has been there to talk at the end of every hard day, often holding Luke or Leia on the hologram as he told her to be patient and that he couldn't wait to spar again.

"Just think about it, Snips. You could come stay with us while you get recovered and help me with these little monsters. We could train, get you strong again." He had said more than once, clearly eager to have her around once more.

Ahsoka hadn't taken up his offer yet, but the idea was growing stronger in the back of her mind. Riyo would be returning to Pantora for a few weeks after the Republic's new constitution was finalized and Ahsoka hadn't decided yet whether to go with her or not.

Riyo had become a constant in Ahsoka's life ever since she had woken up. There wasn't a day when Riyo hadn't come to see her. She was there to hold her hand as she tried to take a step, to hold her after a hard day, to bring her to live with her once she left the medical unit. Riyo was like no one else and Ahsoka loved everything about her, right down to the way she covered her mouth when she laughed or the way her hands interlaced perfectly in Ahsoka's. Riyo was just what Ahsoka needed, someone to love her without judgement or reservation, someone who wasn't just there when it was convenient.

She loved Riyo, she had told her so a month ago. It has been after a particularly challenging day trying to walk across the hall. Riyo had sat with her in bed that night, holding her and telling her not to worry, that she would get it soon. Ahsoka had never felt so held by someone, so vulnerable. The words came out of her mouth before she realized it. Riyo had held her tighter, whispering them back as they languished in each other's presence.

Riyo had been hoping to hear those words from Ahsoka. She had realized how important Ahsoka was to her when she sat by her bed for two months, coming every day to visit when she wasn't at the Senate. She has sat for countless hours, watching and worrying as the woman who had come to mean so much to her wouldn't wake up. Once Ahsoka had finally woken up, Riyo never wanted to leave her side again. Ahsoka made her feel safe. She was so genuine and caring, and it was a breath of fresh coming from the world of politics.

"What are you up to today?" Riyo asked as Ahsoka cleared their plates.

"I am going with Rex to help out at the Clone Rehabilitation program." Ahsoka replied, washing the plates.

"It sounds like the program is going well." Riyo commented, standing up. "I am glad you are able to help, just don't do too much, okay?" Riyo walked over and kissed Ahsoka on the cheek as the woman nodded in agreement. "I'll send you the address for dinner with Padme, see you soon love."

We Pretend It's Alright

"I don't know about this, Padme."

"Anakin, I have to. This is the last measure that needs to be sorted out in the constitution of the Republic. I need to make sure it goes through." Padme said calmly, rocking Leia in her arms as the baby nursed. "We are too close to let it fall apart."

"Does it have to be you?" Anakin protested, using the Force to dangle a toy above Luke, who was laying on a blanket on the living room floor. "Can't Bail handle this?"

"I am the one who convinced these worlds to rejoin the Republic, I am the one they want to hear from. Bail has made his case, but as the current Chancellor, the skeptical worlds want to hear from someone not in power." Padme said for the third time, tired of having this argument with Anakin. Earlier that evening Bail has called her, begging that she come to speak tomorrow. She knew how important this was, and after five months away, she couldn't refuse. "I'll be back in a few days, this is important."

"It's always more important." Anakin muttered, looking away darkly. The toy he was levitating floated back to the ground and suddenly Luke started to cry, his hands reaching out as he wailed. Anakin reached down and scooped his son into his arms, bouncing the crying blonde in his arms trying to calm him.

"Anakin that's not fair-"

"Isn't it?" Anakin said, turning back to face Padme as Luke continued to cry, a dark look on his face. "I thought duty wasn't going to come before our family anymore."

"It isn't and it won't, but being a Senator is part of my life and the state of the Republic matters to me." Padme shot back, lifting Leia to sit in her lap. "We've talked about me starting to regain some of my duties once the twins got older."

"They are five months old and can't even roll over yet, I'd hardly call that ready for their mother to abandon them." Anakin scoffed, rocking Luke faster as he continued to wail.

"I am not abandoning them." Padme said incredulously, hurt shinning in her eyes. "How could you even say that?"

"You don't know what could happen." Anakin said, throwing up a hand. "There have been two terrorist attacks on Coruscant in the last three months. What if you don't come back?" He turned away, hugging the still crying Luke to his chest as the fear he had been surprising welled up inside him. He soothed Luke and after a minute the baby stopped crying, his little face buried in Anakin's chest.

"Anakin." Padme's voice was soft. "I am going to come back."

"You don't know that, Padme. How many threats on your life have you faced as a Senator? What if it happened again?" And I won't be there to protect you, he said in his head, cradling Luke closer.

Padme walked closer to Anakin, Leia on her hip, and she placed a hand on his arm.

"Ani, you can't keep doing this." She whispered. "I am safe, the twins are safe, we are safe. We can't hide here from the world forever."

"Why not?" Came the weak reply.

"I have the chance to make the Galaxy a better place, to make it safer for all families. That matters too." Padme said, Anakin finally turning to face her. "As long as injustice still exists in the world, I want my children to know I did everything I could to end it. Passing this constitution has to happen. My anti-slavery amendment needs to pass. I need to be there to make sure it does."

Anakin looked at her, pain flashing in his eyes as she mentioned the slavery amendment. "I'm sorry, I know how important this is." He closed his eyes for a minute. "I just get worried you won't come back. I almost lost you once and I can't go through it again."

"You won't have to." She smiled, pressing a kiss to his cheek as Leia gurgled, smiling at her daddy. "I will have full protection from the Queen, and I can request Jedi protection as well. I'm sure Obi Wan wouldn't mind."

"I wish I could go with you."

"I know, but this way is better. You get to stay with the twins here. Isn't that right Leia?" Padme asked excitedly, bouncing the baby girl on her hip. "Are you gonna stay with Daddy while Mommy goes away for a little bit? Are you gonna give him lots of trouble?"

Leia babbled excitedly, waving her hands happily as she smiled widely up at Padme and Anakin.

"Trouble, huh?" Anakin said, looking down as Luke who drooled with a toothless smile. "Are we gonna have the best time without Mommy?" He beamed, tossing Luke in the air and catching him as the baby shrieked with excitement.

Leia reached her arms out for her daddy. "Uhh uuuhhh!"

"You want up too?" Anakin asked, smiling at the baby girl. He took Leia from Padme and spun the twins around carefully, laughing with Padme as they shrieked happily.

We Pretend It's Alright

"Padme!" Ahsoka beamed as she saw the woman walking over with Riyo. She looked good, Ahsoka would never had guessed she'd had twins a few months ago.

"Ahsoka!" Padme exclaimed, wrapping the woman in a bone-crushing hug. "I've missed you so much. It's so good to see you in person and not just over hologram."

"You too." Ahsoka said, giving Riyo a quick kiss hello as they sat back down at the table Ahsoka has been waiting at. "How did it go today?"

"Very well, all thanks to Padme of course." Riyo said.

"I can hardly take all the credit. I'm just glad almost all the systems on the fence have moved to being in support of the constitution. We needed three fourths of the Senate to approve it, and with these votes, it should pass tomorrow."

"That's so amazing, really. It's crazy how far the Republic has come since reuniting five months ago." Ahsoka commented. "You both have done so much, it's incredible."

"How is Rex? Riyo said you've been helping at the new Clone rehabilitation program." Padme asked. She had helped draft the program with Rex, a few other Clone leaders, and some other Senators while on Naboo, but she had yet to see the program in action. It has only passed a month ago.

"It's going really well, Rex is loving it. They have been giving all sorts of classes and job training, and I think it's really going to help Clones who decide to leave serving the Republic."

Clones had all been given the option to leave Republic service and live a life of their own, which many had taken, eager to see a life outside the never ending bloodshed they had experienced. These Clones had the option to attend a rehabilitation program to prepare them for civilian life, which Rex was helping run on Coruscant. Other had opted to say and were focusing on rebuilding efforts on worlds hurt by the war.

"I'm sure Rex is happy to have your help." Padme said.

The three women ordered their meals and they continued catching up. Padme had a million cute stories about the twins, and she was eager to hear about Riyo and Ahsoka.

"So you are returning to Pantora for a few weeks after the vote tomorrow?" Padme asked Riyo as they ate.

"Yes, I haven't been back since the war ended. I must meet with our other leaders and discuss how we must go forward with the new constitution." Riyo explained. "Plus, it will be nice to see my family and be back on my home planet."

"I completely understand." Padme agreed. "Now that I am on Naboo with Anakin and the twins, it feels hard to imagine being gone for more than a few days. Ahsoka, are you going with?"

"I don't think so." Ahsoka said with a frown. "I want Riyo to have time with her family and I don't want her to have to take care of me."

"Ahsoka, I hardly take care of you." Riyo said, raising an eyebrow. "But I don't think the cold would be good for her anyway and my family can be a bit much. But I still don't like the idea of you being alone for that long."

"Ahsoka, why don't you come stay with us while Riyo is gone?" Padme said hopefully. "Anakin would be thrilled, and the twins would get some time with their Auntie Ahsoka. Naboo is beautiful this time of the year too."

"Oh I don't know. I don't want to impose."

"How many times has Anakin asked you to come stay with us, now? A hundred?" Padme pointed out and they shared a laugh. "We would love to have you."

"I think it's a good idea." Riyo agreed. "Plus, I can come get you from Naboo before I need to return to Coruscant, and we can spend a few days in the lake country. It would be a nice get away."

"That sounds perfect!" Padme agreed, looking at Ahsoka excitedly.

"Well, alright." Ahsoka smiled, excitement building inside her as she thought of going to spend time with the Skywalkers. "If the Skywalker house will have me, I'd be happy to come."

"This is great." Padme beamed, taking another bite of her pasta. "Can we surprise Anakin?"

Ahsoka laughed, imagining the shock Anakin would receive.

"Please!"