Author's Note: I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I know what you're thinking. If any of you have followed any of my stories, you'll know that inspiration hits in waves. I am excited about this story and I know that this chapter isn't all that good and tense changes are purposeful, but I promise, it's only this chapter it's going to be this hectic. At least, for the foreseeable future. I promise the story will start getting better. Let me know what you think! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Warning: OOCness, Unbeta'd, tense changes, language.
Word Count: 4,924
Padme felt cold.
She felt cold as the people rushed around her. Dimly, she remembers Dorme reaching out to her, placing a hand on Padme's thin shoulder, staring at the young senator with sad eyes. Her lips move. Padme reads them more than hears the words come from her longtime handmaiden. Something about a senatorial meeting. Someone called a meeting. A senatorial meeting.
Of course, they did. Because no one can sneeze in a ten-mile radius of the Senate building without someone having to call a meeting to talk about it. Not that anything would happen. Someone would oppose a perfectly good, and rational thought process for one thing or another and they would somehow convince enough people into following their way of thinking until the entirety of the Senate was stuck in gridlock for the next week and nothing gets done because of it. It's annoying on the best of days where she sits there, wondering how everything could have gotten so bad.
Wondering, when did everything become about money, about how people think about you. How did constituents become more important than the will of the people? When did it stop being about doing what was good for the people and did what was good for you?
But this wasn't just someone sneezing too close to the Senate building. This was something bigger, something monstrous. Something that was always a possibility and the constant threat of Separatist actions always hung over them, but somehow, she didn't think that it could ever happen. She thought... even after all of the attempts on both of their lives... she always thought that somehow he would be okay. That he would always be fine.
How could this have happened? How could it have gotten this bad?
Ever since Padme joined the royal academy as a little girl, training in a full class of boys and girls all trying to become King or Queen of Naboo. She worked hard, trained her mind and her body for the job. In class, she solidified her view on Naboo and how the world works, or how it should work became her sole focus. Padme was confident in her abilities. She was confident in what she wanted and how she wanted to go about it. She had a very clear view on right and wrong. If you do wrong, you are punished for it.
Padme remembers having a conversation with one of her teachers about her view on the world. She doesn't remember exactly what she said, but her teacher sat her down and tried to explain that not everything fits into this nifty little box that she wanted to put them. He tried hard to explain it, but as smart and as cunning as she was, even as a little girl, she wasn't able to understand. She couldn't fully grasp what her teacher was trying to tell her until years later. He was one of the first to congratulate her when she was given the position of Queen and never really said more on the matter.
But Padme remembered it and thought about it sometimes.
Naturally, once becoming Queen, Padme learned that not everything is as it appears and sometimes her strict view isn't correct or not as clear as it should be. Nothing is as clear cut as anyone would want it to be, and that's life she supposed.
Speaking of life, Padme has had a lot of time to think about that in the last few months. Well, maybe the last few years is more accurate, but the thoughts on her mortality have been in the last few months. Since the war against the Separatists began Padme hasn't been worried about her life. In the Geonosian coliseum she told Anakin the truth, she wasn't afraid to die. If death was going to come for her, she wasn't going to go without a fight, but she wasn't afraid if this moment was going to be her last.
But once the war was declared and Padme became surrounded by death as the galaxy was embroiled in war, Padme began to think more and more about it. As entire planets were overrun by battle droids. Millions of refugees fleeing across the galaxy chased from their homes by one side or the other. The Jedi fighting desperately to restore order while everything is falling apart around them.
Padme doesn't know when it started happening - the ire toward the Jedi. But before she knew it, there were active protests all across Coruscant. People going so far as to stand outside the steps leading up to the Jedi Temple screaming and yelling all hours of the day, harassing any and all Jedi that passes through. Eventually, the Coruscanti defense force had to be called in to keep civilians away. Or, at least at a safe distance so they couldn't just rush the Temple.
Why would people want to do that? Why were people so against the Jedi? How did it get this bad? When did they become the enemy when they were always the peacekeepers?
Padme just couldn't understand.
It had to of been steadily growing for a long time, and she just didn't notice. She would like to think that she was up to date on all the goings-on in the Republic, or at least enough to have some idea as to what's happening. But she has no idea how it got so bad. Sure, there were some questionable acts by the Jedi over the course of the war, but the Republic hasn't had completely clean hands either. And the enemy is Dooku and those that wish to hurt innocent people for greed and power. Not all the Separatists were evil or wrong in how they felt.
Padme knew that there is a way to bring both sides together again, but so many things just kept getting into the way. Peace is an option, it's always an option and Padme refused to believe that peace with the Separatists died with Mina Boltari. But those like Mina who were against this war were too afraid of Dooku and retaliation from other Senators that they won't say anything. People on both sides are afraid to act on what is right because of the tension this war has forced down on them, coupled with the corruption that is spreading through the ranks on both sides of the war.
Padme didn't want to believe that the Republic was becoming corrupt, but she couldn't continue to live with blinders on. She couldn't keep ignoring what was right in front of her. She didn't know everything going on, but she did know that something had to be done. Even if - no, when - this war comes to an end, she's sure that there is going to be a long, uphill battle ahead of them to figure out how to truly approach peace. The Republic can't ignore what drove the Separatists away in the first place.
They weren't necessarily wrong in all of their arguments. They do have a point for their ire.
Throughout this war, Padme has seen the worst this galaxy has to offer. She has seen destroyed homes, raized worlds, millions of refugees flooding to safer places in the galaxy. So many people without homes, food, community. People are suffering and sending her letters begging for help. She opens up charities and petitions for relief efforts every couple of days to try and help people. She tries so hard, even going as far as the places that are hit by the war to be part of the relief herself, but she can only be in one place at a time and she's spreading herself so thin that at one point she had collapsed with a fever and was forced to stay home and miss out on an important vote.
Padme was so ashamed, she cried. This war was getting so hard to handle and it felt like everything she was doing, every step she was trying to take to help the people affected by this war, was this impossibly difficult uphill battle. Too many people who care only about their profits or their systems ignore the pleas of the misfortunate and bury their head in the sand. They won't help others and ignore their cries, but the moment the war finds its way to them, they are the first people to come crawling to the Senate and demand assistance.
Padme missed a meeting and she cried. She cried because no matter what, it didn't matter. She sent JarJar in her stead, but nothing got done. The vote came down so neatly that the Senate locked up again in debates for the thousandth time since this war began and it was frustrating. It seemed like no matter what, everyone was fighting her on trying to help people. So many people were starving, scared, dying and she was sitting in her room, surrounded by her nice things and the safety of her guards and the Senatorial guards that walk the halls, and she hates herself.
She isn't in the worst place she could be. She's safe. At least safe enough, and all she could do was cry. She felt pathetic and worthless and she had her handmaidens to dote on her in concern while children went without parents, wives without husbands and siblings without each other out in the galaxy. Padme is so stressed that she has to build herself just to get up in the morning. But she reminds herself what she's fighting for - who she's fighting for - and she does. She puts everything she has into every day and goes to bed with fear and anxiety, scared that she didn't do everything she could to help the people who need her the most.
So every time that Anakin comes home, she would wait anxiously in her office or her apartment until he was able to break away from the Chancellor, or the Jedi, and comes for her. She would run into his arms and hug him to her. She would breathe into the side of his neck and just feel him there with her. He would wrap himself around her and hold her tight and she would feel so safe and secure. It would be like the rest of the world would fall away and she would be safe - he would be safe too, the love of her life - so long as they were together.
She would tell him she loved him and he would laugh and blue, grinning with happiness.
Those pure moments kept her going.
It's moments like that that she thinks about as the Senate argues around her. As people struggle to speak over one another, no one able to believe the news yet everyone having their own things to say. Next to Padme, Bail shares a look past her at Mon, communicating with their eyes as the Senators around them scream and yell.
Mas Amedda looks around trying to regain order, but no one was listening to him. Padme watches him for a moment. He struggling, trying to gain control over the room but he doesn't have the authoritative voice. He doesn't have the power to make them listen. Everyone is too distracted by what they are talking about, and what's going on. Everyone knows that he doesn't have any idea what's going on. He doesn't know anything more than they do. He will simply reiterate what they all already know.
The only thing that really matters.
"He's floundering," Mon says, a touch of pity in her voice. She runs her fingers through her hair, letting out a little sigh. She pulls her eyes from Bail and looks over to Mas Amedda.
Bail frowns, looking sad. He nods, interlacing his fingers on his lap. "Yeah." He looks away from the Vice-Chancellor to Padme sitting between them. Her body has always been small, but someone she seems even tinier than before. She is staring up at Mas Amedda, her dark eyes wide and bloodshot, her back straight and her hands folded neatly on her lap. She looks as regal and poised as she does every day, but there is a deep-rooted sadness in her eyes. "Padme?"
"Are you okay, Padme?" Mon asks, turning to look at the youngest of the three of them.
Padme doesn't respond, just pulls her eyes away from Mas Amedda and stares forward, not listening to anything around her as her thoughts swallow her whole.
With all of the strange and worrisome things that have happened throughout this war, Padme could probably pinpoint around the time when things started getting extraordinarily weird. It had to of been a few months ago when she noticed. She was in the meeting with Mace Windu, Yoda, and Ki-Audi Mundi when something happened. Something so powerful in its negativity that the hairs on Padme's arms stood on end. She thought at first that it was just a cold chill that washed over her, but as soon as the thought crossed her mind, all three Masters turned their eyes off into the distance, wide and concerned.
Master Yoda grabbed onto his chest and doubled over in pain. "The Dark Side... the Dark Side has swelled in power..."
They excused themselves a few moments later. Padme didn't know what to say, she just watched them run off with large, dark eyes, a strange feeling of apprehension settling in her gut as they went. She wasn't Force Sensitive, she never was and never will be, but somehow she just knew that something was wrong with Anakin. She tried to call him after they left but she didn't get a response. She held off for another day, somehow, she was an anxious mess, so the next day, when she couldn't wait a moment longer, she called again.
He picked up after the second ring. His small image appears over her holocommunicator and she could have cried at the sight of him.
"Ani? Oh, Ani! Thank goodness you're okay!" She said, walking over to the door to her office and locking the door before walking over to her desk. "I was so worried, I thought that something terrible had happened to you. Are you okay?" He doesn't respond, he just stares at her. He blinks a few times, looking her up and down as if in awe of her. Like she's something ethereal.
"Ani?" Padme whispered, stepping closer to the hologram of her beloved husband. "Anakin?"
"Padme..." he whispered, her voice like a prayer on his lips. "You are so beautiful."
"Are you okay?" She asked. She kneaded her hands in front of her. "The Jedi said there was something strong in the Dark Side or something. Anakin, I think I felt something. I just... I know it's stilly, I'm not Force Sensitive, but I was just worried about you."
Anakin stared back at her as if she was something precious. His left hand twitched and he looked down at it as if the movement offended him, before looking back at Padme. "I am okay. I am better than I have ever been in a long time. Seeing you... is like a dream. A beautiful, painful dream."
"Painful?" Padme echoed. "I'm bringing you pain?" Her thin eyebrows pulled together. There was something weird knawing at the back of her head, but she's not exactly sure what it was.
Anakin looked away, smiling thinly. He closed his eyes for a moment before looking back at her. "Yes, but I will accept the pain. I would sacrifice everything just to hold you right now."
Padme smiled a bit, unsure of how she felt about those words. "I wish you were here right now."
"Soon," he promised. "Soon we will be together and nothing will tear us apart."
"Ani, are you speaking in a Core Worlds accent?" Padme asked, realizing what the weird thing she couldn't name was. He wasn't speaking regularly.
Anakin blinked, reaching up with his hand to touch the smooth skin of his tanned throat tenderly as if he had hurt himself and was worried about aggravating it. He looked at his left hand as if he wasn't sure if it was his hand or not. He cleared his throat, gently touching the skin there before looking back at Padme. "Maybe I'm developing one..." He said slowly, his voice back to normal.
Someone spoke to Anakin somewhere off to the side where she couldn't see it, he looks over at them, listens before turning away and staring at Padme for a long moment, looking her up and down as if to commit her to memory. Padme didn't want him to go, she wanted him to stay there so that they could speak - they haven't spoken in over a month. But whatever it was, it had to of been important and who was she to stand in the way of people who needed Anakin.
"Padme..." Anakin said slowly, looking over at her.
"Go," Padme said, shaking her head and interlacing her fingers on her stomach. "I'll see you. Come to see me when you come back to Coruscant, okay?"
Anakin looked like the thought of coming to Coruscant was distasteful, but the prospect of seeing her was too much to ignore. He seemed resigned to go somewhere he didn't want to to see somehow who he wanted to see more than anything.
"I will," Anakin said.
There was a moment of pause where neither of them said anything other. They only stared at one another and Padme had to wonder if there was something more that Anakin wanted to say. But whoever was speaking to him, spoke again, and Anakin frowned before nodding slowly to Padme. "I will come to see you the moment I'm able to."
Padme nodded. "Okay. I love you."
Anakin's smile is a mixture of sultry and smooth. There was love in his eyes. "I love you too, Padme."
After they hung up, about a week later Padme got word that there was some sort of incident on Mandalore. Something about Satine being kidnapped by a red and black Zabrak. Maul. He captured Mandalore and Satine. Somehow she managed to get word to Obi-Wan. Together with Anakin, Obi-Wan staged a rescue of the Duchess. Apparently, Anakin and Obi-Wan did battle against Maul and his brother, another Zabrak by the name of Savage Opress that was once Dooku's apprentice but at some point went their separate ways.
Together, the two of them managed to save Satine, kill Savage and chase Maul off the world along with dismantling Death Watch and seize control of the planet from Prime Minister Almec. Padme gave it a few days before giving Satine a call, anxious to see if her friend was okay. Satine answered and they spent hours talking. Anakin had left Mandalore but Obi-Wan stayed behind to look after everything until they ensured there was not going to be any more riots.
They went through the normal conversation of if Satine was okay, how Mandalore was fairing, if she needed anything that all she had to do was ask and Padme would do her best to provide. Satine was thankful, smiled at the young Senator and called her a true friend before assuring her that if Mandalore needed anything that she as the Duchess couldn't provide, Padme would be the first person that she would call. It was then that Satine told Padme about the strangeness between Obi-Wan and Anakin. Apparently, while they were working together, there appeared to be some sort of odd friction between them. So bad that even Satine noticed it. They didn't come to blows or anything but there was obviously something between them that wasn't quite right.
"It's almost like they were angry at each other," Satine said, running her hand through her shoulder-length blond hair. She sighed. "Or perhaps, it was more Anakin than Obi."
Padme tilted her head. "What do you mean? Anakin seemed angry to you?"
Satine shrugged. "I don't know how to explain it. He was fluctuating back and forth between being tense, cold and angry, and the man I met a few years ago. Like there was nothing wrong. One moment he would be giving Obi-Wan the cold shoulder and the next they would be firing playful quips at one another. I don't understand what's going on with them."
"Did you speak with Obi-Wan? What did he say?" Padme asked, worried.
Satine shook her head. "Nothing. He's not sure why Anakin is so mad. He said that Anakin has been making his opinion on the war and about the Jedi very clear these last few weeks."
Padme stared at her friend. "Opinion on the Jedi? What opinion?"
"That they can't be trusted." Satine looked away for a moment before turning her blue eyes to Padme. "I don't know what's going on between those two, but if Anakin and Obi-Wan hadn't come, I'm not certain I would be here right now. I'd probably be dead."
They left it at that. It was a few days later that Anakin and Ahsoka, who was still out on patrol with the 501st when Anakin left her to join Obi-Wan to fight for Mandalore, returned to Coruscant for the first time in months. Padme eager awaited for Anakin to come to her, and he did. She ran into his arms and held him as tightly as she could, burying her nose into his neck and breathing him in. She felt the vein there pulse against the tip of her nose. He squeezed her so tight that it almost hurt, but he relaxed a bit a moment later, letting her breath once more. He ran his hands up and down her body, holding her to him. In her ear, he whispered her name again and again and again like a prayer.
That night he didn't leave her side for a moment. They spent the night curled around one another, kissing and touching, engraving themselves in each other's body. The pain, the pleasure, it all flooded together into her mind at once. The night was all about her. It was like he was worshipping her with every breath he took, kissing up and down her body, forcing her to stay in bed while he grabbed water for them or carried her into the shower when she simply couldn't muster the strength to get up and go there herself. He cleaned her body and they lounged in the tub together. Padme was feeling so pampered that she honestly thought Anakin's body was snatched by a changling. He's always been pretty attentive to her, but he was so giving that night that she had to tease him.
"You are the most beautiful, perfect creature in the galaxy, Padme. How could I not cherish you?"
Padme laughed tiredly, leaning back into his arms as the warm water suctioned their bodies together. "You treat me wonderfully, Anakin. I felt the love all along."
Anakin kissed the back of her neck, easily avoiding all the clips holding up her long, drying hair. "You are a true angel, Padme. You are my salvation."
"Salvation?" Padme echoed, relaxing her back against his chest. "From what?"
"Everything," he said. She glanced over her shoulder a bit to look at him and he elaborated. "Obi-Wan has loved Satine for so long and he almost lost her. He almost sacrificed her life for the Jedi teachings. It would have destroyed him. His body would move, and he would talk and preach the Jedi dogma, but he would be gone. He wouldn't be a real person. He would have just become another pawn of the Jedi. He would forsake all of us, for them. I just wanted to show him another path. Something where they could both be happy. Maybe we could all be happy."
Padme smiled faintly. She's not really sure she understands all of what he's saying, but she did appreciate him wanting everyone to be happy. Padme hasn't been able to see much of Satine and Obi-Wan together, but from the bit that she had seen, they appeared pretty close. And Padme knew that Satine favored Obi-Wan despite what she may say. Padme didn't know that Obi-Wan loved Satine, but she believed Anakin when he said it. Anakin would know better than she would when it came to Obi-Wan anyway. Speaking of...
"Ani, are you and Obi-Wan fighting?" Padme asked, relaxing against her husband again.
"No," he said immediately, then hesitated. "Yes. Maybe. I am angry at him but I think that I've found a better way of going about my anger."
Mind whirling, Padme asked, "Why are you mad at Obi-Wan?"
Anakin sighed, wrapping his left hand around her waist to pull her close. "A lot of things. My... view on things was clouded for a long time and I hated Obi-Wan for it, but I am able to see now with clearer eyes who my true enemy is."
Padme's eyebrows pulled together. "I don't understand. Did you have some sort of Force Vision?"
Anakin doesn't respond for a moment before nodding. "Yes. A vision of the future."
"What did you see?" Padme asked, worried.
"The destruction of everyone and everything."
"Padme?" Someone calls out to her.
Padme looks up from where she is sitting in the Senate room. Everyone is piling out of there, all talking anxiously int their pods as they go. She looks down at her communicator to see the time, she's been lost in her thoughts for over an hour and a half. She doesn't remember anything that was said turning the meeting. She was lost in her thoughts the entire time.
She stands slowly, following after Mon and Bail. She feels so cold. So numb.
"Nothing was decided," Mon says, staring at Padme with sad eyes. "We are going to take a recess and hopefully be able to make a decision on how to proceed forward with this."
Bail stops, reaching out and grabbing onto Padme's upper arms. "Padme, I'm so sorry for your loss. I know how much he meant to you. He meant a lot to us too. I'm sorry he's gone." His eyebrows pull together a bit as he stares down at Padme. Her eyes sad and detached. She looks lost. Padme who is always so strong and focused is miles away without uttering a single word since they heard the news.
Padme looks away, feeling the creases form on her forehead. Through the chill and the numbness that has since settled over her for hours, she's starting to feel something akin to absolute agony in her chest. She blinks slowly, trying to stomp it down, ignore the pain as it starts to swell between her ribs. The only other time that she's felt like this was when her Uncle Ono died. She loved him and he was murdered right before her very eyes. He was poisoned to death. He was a good, innocent man who simply wanted what was best for his people.
And now... and now...
"How long is the recess..?" Padme asks, looking back up at Bail.
Bail looks sad. "An hour."
Padme nods, pulling away from her friend, forcing a small, pained smile before walking away. She needed time. She needed to get away even if for just a moment so that she can breathe. She rushes to her office, not having been there since the day before, yet it feels like a lifetime since that moment. Since the last time she was doing monotonous paperwork that never seems to end trying to help the streams of people that go on as far as the eye can see. Yesterday was normal. Yesterday was as simple as it was every day before.
Yesterday, he was here. And today, he's dead and all they know is that Asajj Ventress killed him.
She swings her door open, feeling the burning of her eyes when she spots someone standing by her desk. She blinks and the tears slide down her cheeks as Anakin turns to face her. She holds herself in place, fighting the urge to move until she hears her door shut and the automatic lock clicks into place. A second later she's flying at Anakin, throwing herself into his arms as the tears slide down her face. She cries so hard her body shakes, yet Anakin doesn't seem to mind. He holds onto her tightly, kissing her temple and forehead as she sobs into his shoulder.
"Ani, oh Ani. He's dead."
"I know..." Anakin murmurs, kissing her hairline. "I know..."
"He's the... I can't believe... I... he's... how could he be dead? How could Ventress get in? How could she have gotten to him? How did she kill Chancellor Palpatine?"