Author's Note: This is a side fic of "Finishing the Hat" which is in turn based on "Minato Namikaze and the Destroyer of Worlds" if you haven't read at least part of the original fic you'll be wondering why the hell Anakin is a ninja. Also, for obvious reasons, this is NOT CANON.
Many things change in ten years.
Naboo is free from the Trade Federation's invading droids, saved ten years prior by two jedi, two shinobi, an army of gungans, and a young slave boy from Tatooine. Now, ten years later, it's a different sort of war that's on the horizon, one that threatens to grip the whole republic as the seperatists threaten to tear them apart at their seams.
Padme Amidala is no longer queen of Naboo, having set aside her title to take up the role of senator, finding herself quite often flying back and forth between Naboo and Coruscant, only without quite so many body guards, assassination attempts, or heavy cloying traditional clothing.
Obi-Wan Kenobi, as far as she understands it, has become quite the jedi and is quickly making his way towards becoming a jedi master. His master Qui-Gon Jinn still does not have a position on the council and often seems to chafe under them, or at least, as far as Padme can gather from the either the gossiping shinobi or Qui-Gon himself.
Naboo still hosts the embassy for Konoha, one both on Naboo and on Coruscant, and over the years there have been a small collection of many different shinobi passing through, some seeming absurdly young, little more than children, as they stoically or else enthusiastically nod their greetings towards her in accented Basic as they pass through the halls.
And it's amazing how she gets used to them and doesn't all at once, how she no longer blinks at them, but is often taken aback by their mannerisms and eccentricities. They are at once fiercely intelligent, pragmatic, ruthless, but also drunken fools, boundless optimists, and passionate friends. Each is so wildly filled with life, even those who are less expressive than the others, and speaking to a shinobi sometimes feels like trying to be heard in a hurricane, just leaving one exhausted at the end of it.
But perhaps, strangest of all, are the changes that ten years have performed on the little boy Anakin Skywalker, who, given the choice between becoming a jedi or a mercenary, chose to leave the republic behind for a planet that no one besides the shinobi themselves had ever seen.
There's a strange sort of innocent charm to the nineteen-year-old Anakin Skywalker. His smile, while white and gleaming and more than a little handsome, has a childlike carefree quality to it that belies the troubled times they find themselves in and the looming threat of war.
If she didn't know better she'd think he'd lived a sheltered life when she knows he's had anything but.
This shows in his calloused hands, more calloused than even a jedi's, as he grips hers in his as he asks her to show him around Coruscant or Naboo or wherever Padme's work and Anakin's duty of guarding her has happened to take them.
He's an odd mixture of foreign and familiar, wearing their dark green clothing and silver headband proudly on his forehead, his hair grown out and curling at the ends, his eyes a dark and stormy blue, but his Basic fluent and his accent only that of backwater Tatooine rather than somewhere even further than that.
Sometimes though, when he looks at her, the glow of the sunset lighting his golden hair and casting shadows in his eyes, he seems so terribly old and nostalgic, as if he is staring on this present moment like a beloved memory. Tender, and so very, dangerously, fragile.
He's also, at times, rather forward.
"You know I meant it," he says when they first reunite after years of being apart, her in Coruscant and him in Konoha, a flush on his cheeks as he stares at her, almost five years younger than her and looking every minute of it, "When I said you were beautiful."
He doesn't take it back either, even as his embarrassment, and her own embarrassment, spreads like wildfire between them.
"Obito always said I'd grow out of it, that I'd find myself some pretty kunoichi and have lots of beautiful children with ungodly amounts of chakra," Anakin says, rubbing the back of his head rather awkwardly, "Of course, he has no room to talk what with his lifelong infatuation with Rin, but all the same… You really are still the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. And sometimes I still wonder if you really aren't an angel after all."
Padme, at the time, doesn't know how to take this.
She doesn't later for that matter. Because he is cute in his own charming way, something that grows on her as he smiles, as his hand squeezes her or as he drags her away to find some long lost curiosity that he'd forgotten about or else never seen before.
And his eyes light up like little stars every time, and she catches herself staring at them, and thinking that she's never met anyone quite like Anakin Skywalker and she never will.
But then she remembers the stark reality of the situation, that Anakin Skywalker has been paid in credits, goods, and information, to be her bodyguard as she makes her way to the senate to vote on the funding and building of an army to combat the looming separatist threat.
And it cascades through her, without mercy, when she waked one night to find herself staring at Anakin Skywalker, the little boy who'd so desperately wanted to help anyone who came across his path, clutching an old-fashioned metal throwing knife, crouched over the discarded body of an assassin (throat slit and eyes glazed), blood dripping down his finger tips and onto the carpet, and not a word towards her or a single hint of disquiet in him.
And all those idle thoughts about his smile and his light vanish into the dark, leaving only dying embers of them behind.
"You know, this would never happen in Konoha," Anakin says musingly, perched on the steps of the senate like a strange oversized bird, his wooden platformed sandals barely touching the marble yet somehow maintaining perfect balance with ease, his nose stuck in a book of flimsy, the kind that seems as if it should belong in a museum if it did not look so newly printed.
And even though he seems suitably distracted, Padme is sure that he's very focused, all the shinobi are whenever Naboo contracts them for something (whenever the jedi are too busy or it's a small enough task that a jedi might refuse but a shinobi won't for adequate compensation), at one moment they're chatting happily and the next they're moving faster than lightning, knives out and a look of utter determination on their faces.
Anakin, for all his sweetness, is no different.
Anakin stands, stretches, and gives her a rather amused look, "All this quibbling over funding an army or not. Or even sending the jedi or not."
"It's an important issue and…"
Anakin holds up a hand in casual protest, forgetting once again that he's a hired bodyguard speaking to a senator who was once royalty, "I didn't say it wasn't, simply that Konoha always seems to be ready for war in one sense or another. Even now, when it's the longest era of peace we've had, we're still all ready for battle at a moment's notice… Of course, you'd have to be insane to attack Konoha right now, what with Eru Lee, Namikaze Minato, Senju Tobirama, Senju Hashirama, Hatake Sakumo, and well, everyone else, still all in their prime or close enough to it. All that said, I think the fire daimyo knows better than to substitute his own army for Konoha's shinobi population."
"Oh, why shouldn't the jedi help the republic?"
That curious, rather reminiscent of Lee Eru, raise of his pale eyebrows, "Because they're not really part of the republic, are they? They're neutral, lack attachment, or they're supposed to be at any rate. Besides, ninja wars aren't for the faint of heart, and anyone knows that if they send shinobi out to the battlefield and the other country matches with the same amount of force, there probably won't be a battlefield to stand on within a few years. Just look at what happened to Uzushio, Ame, or Kusa. Anyone with any sense at all would be wary of calling on that sort of weapon."
And it's that, that casual talk of battle, of himself as a weapon, that always gets to her. The jedi, for all the qualms that Padme does sometimes have with their philosophies, do not consider themselves tools of war without even blinking.
Every single shinobi she's ever talked to, small or large, man or woman, hasn't had a moment of hesitation answering. Some, she thinks, even find it amusing that she feels the need to point it out to them.
And it's at times like this, staring at him as he hooks his arm into hers and asks where she wants to go now, that she wonders if she wouldn't rather have seen Anakin Skywalker as a jedi after all.
"Are you happy, being a shinobi?"
They're on Naboo, Anakin insisting they return for her safety, stating that the capital is crawling with not only seperatists but enemy ninja (although he does not explain how this is possible, when there is only one jedi order), and they're lying on their backs staring at the great blue sky (its colors reflected in his clear eyes).
He doesn't answer right away, the wind ruffling through his hair, but there is that small tender smile on his face again, "Yes, it's hard at times but… Yes, this is the best future for me, for everyone really."
"You don't regret not being a jedi, then?"
Another pause, his eyes turn to rove over her, and at once she feels both exposed but also warm, there's so much warmth in his eyes, "No… Did you know, if I'd become a jedi, we would have married."
Padme blinks, dropping the flower chain she's been building, staring at him in alarmed confusion (and Anakin does make it a habit of saying alarmingly confusing things), "What?"
He's not looking at her, even though his eyes are turned in her direction, rather he seems to be staring past her and into the living force itself, "Well, not yet, a few months from now. I'd have been given a mission as a jedi to be your guard, we'd have come to Naboo, and while we spent months here waiting for the threat on your life to be rooted out by Kenobi we'd grow closer… And, as war breaks out in the republic, you and I would have a secret wedding with only our droids as witnesses."
He trails off here, seemingly done, only giving a small sigh and staring silently back up at the sky, so it's Padme who finds herself asking (really wanting to stammer it out with sheer embarrassment), "Well… Do we get married here?"
"I don't know…" he sighs again, "It's not the same here, I'm… I'm not the same. Less arrogant, more disciplined, more at ease but… You find him less unnerving, and sweeter, I think. And, and our romance was not always a sweet one. It also destroys entire star systems, after all."
She has nothing to say to this, frankly always finding Anakin's predictions more than a little unnerving and ominous, and not wanting to think if this is all metaphorical or quite literal. Except, staring at him, at the way the wind ruffles his hair, at his tanned face, his blue eyes, the wrinkles in his dark green clothing, she can't help but think she wouldn't mind someday marrying this boy, "I'm glad that you don't know, Anakin."
"It makes it truer, whatever happens, I think." She says, "After all, if you knew everything, wouldn't it make it that much less real?"
"It's a dangerous gift," Anakin agrees, sitting up and staring at her, his lips quirking up into his strange smile, "It would have destroyed me, you know, if I'd been a jedi."
"Good thing you're not a jedi then," she says, smiling back.
"Well… I'll give jedi Anakin this, he's much better at kenjutsu than I am, and far more popular with the ladies." Anakin says with a shrug and a small smirk that startles a small girlish giggle out of Padme, nothing appropriate for a senator.
"No, surely not."
"Oh, but you see, he never had to compete with Itachi Uchiha. I just had no chance at all with that sort of opponent." Anakin then gives a fake cry of despair, "You see, I just can't brood well enough. Jedi Anakin, now he I think, was an excellent brooder."
They look at each other, in this sunny Naboo field, and both burst into laughter.
"You know, Anakin, I think I like you just the way you are."
(The war edges closer, the scent of it in the wind and the feel of the sunshine, and somehow even while Padme feels it creep closer, she knows that it's Anakin who can feel it in his shadow.)
At the advent of the war, Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker do not get married.
The shinobi aren't called upon for the war, although there is debate over whether they should be. After all, it's little different to some than building a clone army or employing a battalion of droids, not citizens of the republic at risk, but simply mercenaries.
However, it would still be human life on the battle field, or human life they choose to respect (rather than the blood of the clones which now waters the fields of so many planets), and that stands against everything the republic stands for.
That, and shinobi are foreign, can't be controlled, and ultimately defer to their own leaders and regulations. They make no pretenses of being on the republic's side, even Anakin Skywalker, born on Tatooine.
So, it's the jedi and the clones and the droids who go out to try to hold the republic together. And Anakin Skywalker stays behind to continue guarding her, to act as the bridge between Konoha and the republic, while the war rages.
"I don't understand it," he says bleakly one day, staring out at the rain, the holo with the latest news from the front, Obi-Wan Kenobi's face brought up as they speak of his valor and the meager victories of the republic, "If you only send out droids and clones to butcher each other, with civilians as unfortunate collateral damage, then how can this ever end? It'll just be whichever of you runs out of money first that determines the victor."
"Anakin, remember we don't have an army, or at least, not any that can match the seperatists' droids."
They'd never needed one, the republic, after all, had not been at war with itself and there was no one else to be at war with. Wars like that were ancient history. But Anakin just looks at her as if she's somehow missed his point entirely, and should almost be pitied for it.
"If you aren't willing to battle for your own existence then how can you possibly hope to win this war?" Anakin asks, slowly, tasting the words, before his eyes narrow on her and he states, "You, Padme, of all people should understand that."
He's, of course, talking about Naboo, and how it was Padme and the gunguns who had beaten back the Trade Federation, and Padme can't help but flush at the words as she tries to explain, "That was different, I begged the senate for help and they said no, if they'd granted my request then…"
"They never would have granted your request," Anakin cuts her off, "It's why you're having this war in the first place."
"What are you talking about?"
"Self-interest, corruption, greed, there's very little holding this republic together, Padme." Anakin shook his head, a look of disbelief on his face as he tried to grasp that she wasn't following, refused to follow, "Look at this place, hell, look at the jedi for that matter! It's not the seperatists that's driving this or even the sith, it's you! This has been building for years, before we even met really… In fact, Lee is surprised it took this long."
"And what would she know about it?"
Lee, always Lee Eru, unspoken and hanging over them like an ever-present shadow. Always judging, despite the blood on her own hands and the dark shadows of her own past and planet. Padme had never missed the woman.
Anakin falters, and says nothing, seems unwilling to counter her argument, lets his unspoken rebuttle simmer between them. Finally, with dull exhaustion, he says, "I wish Luke was here."
She refuses to look at him, speak to him, so she doesn't ask who Luke is, she doesn't need to as he continues.
"Luke, he should have been the best and brightest of all of us… It's amazing, how clearly I see him sometimes, him and Leia. He could bring… balance back to the force, to the republic. But he'll never exist now, him or his sister."
He turns to her, and something in him is burning, inside out, so that Padme can almost see the strange divine light pouring out of his eyes, "And I should be happy, because I have so much already. I have you, I have my mother, Lee, Obito, Qui-Gon, and even Obi-Wan, but… I don't think I can do what he did, and I don't know if I could stand to."
(That night, and every night after, she dreams of twins. A blonde little boy, an almost carbon copy of Anakin Skywalker, and a brown haired little girl taking after Padme herself…
They smile at her, and wave goodbye before they even have a chance to say hello.)
The war rages on, Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala do not marry.
Author's Note: Written for the 200th review of "Finishing the Hat" by Kuroyuki no Ryu who asked for a fic describing the relationship between Padme and a shinobi trained and heavily Lee influenced Anakin Skywalker where they talk about war, politics, life, morals, and all that good stuff. So we have this... Also, can you believe "Finishing the Hat" is enough of it's own universe that it can legitimately support side fics? This feels... concerning, considering how far down the spin off path we've meandered.
Anyways, thanks to readers, reviews are most welcome.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Naruto