This story begin during the Clone Wars episode "An Old Friend". Padmé had been helping an old flame, Rush Clovis, to prove misdoings among the Banking Clan. The first couple of chapters follow this story arc quite closely, as well as parts of Season 7 of CW -but the story will diverge radically soon enough.

Prologue

"As the war between the Republic and the Separatists intensifies, many are driven from their home planets, and it is up to Senator Amidala to secure aid for them. All eyes turn to the Banking Clan and the planet Scipio. In an effort to remain independent from the Republic and the Separatists, all operations are divided, and money transactions are performed in a neutral zone surrounding the main vault. For operations to continue, there must be no war on Scipio. However, worry about the stability of the Banking Clan is brewing within the Republic as the wellspring of money may be in jeopardy..."

-1-

Padmé sat in the dark cell, wondering what would become of her, wondering where Clovis was. She had come to Scipio to help him find proof of the corruption in the Banking Clan, and she had done just that. Unfortunately, she had been detained by the Munns, who had begun to suspect of her being a spy for the Republic. It wouldn't be the first time she'd been a spy for them, and probably would be the last. She knew that Anakin didn't approve, he'd made his feelings quite clear. But Padmé was a person dedicated to her duty, and had felt compelled to help Clovis. And now she was stuck in a cell, with little in the way of leverage to get out. She only hoped it wouldn't be a long wait. Unfortunately, it was.

Several days had passed when the door to her cell finally opened.

"Well, well, well. What exactly is going on here?"

Padmé squinted in the light, knowing who it was even before she saw his face. She sat up, relieved beyond measure that her Jedi husband had come to her rescue. Again.

"Ani! I'm so glad to see you!" she said standing up. "How long have I been in here?"
"A few days," Anakin told her. "What has happened? Why are they holding you in here?"
"It's….complicated," she said evasively. "They say Teckla is dead. Is it true?"
Anakin was annoyed that she was trying to avoid the issue. "I'm afraid so. She was found shot
at the bombsite."

"Shot? By who?"

"No one seems to know. The Muuns say she sabotaged the power grid. What exactly is going on here, Padmé? What have you got yourself into this time? And why are you being so reluctant to tell me?"

"I'll explain it all Anakin, I promise," she said as she walked toward him. "You have to get me out of here. Clovis is..."
Anakin frowned, as jealousy filled him. Rush Clovis, a man from Padmé's past, a man with whom she'd had a romantic relationship. Anakin hated him passionately. "Clovis? What the hell does Clovis have to do with this?"
"Anakin please don't get upset," she said. "I….I can't explain it here."
But Anakin was already upset. He was very upset. "How could you ever put your trust in a man like Clovis after what he did? Did you forget that the man poisoned you? That he's a traitor?"

"It's for the Republic, Anakin," Padmé replied calmly. "Something is very wrong with the banks, and Clovis…"

"Why is it that when Clovis is around, your excuse is always that you're doing it for the Republic?" he interjected angrily.
Padmé sighed, fighting the urge to roll her eyes. "Anakin, please," she said. "You're being completely unreasonable."
"I'm unreasonable?" he replied. "I'm not the one associating with traitors. You seem to be quite an admirer of his. Maybe I should just leave you here with him."
"Ani! How could you say such a thing?"

Anakin frowned, unable to stay angry with her. The look in her eyes had always managed to melt his heart. "You've already been released into my custody," he grumbled as he turned to the exit. "You better come with me before I change my mind."
"Anakin, please trust me," she said as they walked away from the cell block. "I can't leave without the files Clovis and I took from the vault."
"Where exactly do you suggest we look?" he asked, mildly annoyed.

"The disks may be outside the city at Clovis' private residence," she said.

He turned to her, as the green monster reared its ugly head again. "His private residence? What were you doing there, Padmé? How did that figure into your mission for the Republic?"

Padmé looked up at him, his jealousy both upsetting and frustrating her. "Anakin, please stop this! Why are you acting this way? Don't you trust me?"

Anakin's frown didn't leave his face as he turned from her and continued walking. "Fine. I'll do this for you, not for Clovis." He activated his comlink. "Artoo. Have the ship ready in case I need you."

At Clovis's Residence

Anakin looked around at the richly furnished room, trying not to imagine his wife getting cozy with Clovis in front of the fireplace. But the room was disorganized, as though someone had been searching it.

"Someone was looking for the files," Padmé observed. "They must know Clovis has them."
"Well, maybe they found what they were looking for, and that's why he's missing," Anakin suggested.
"Hopefully for good," he added with a smirk.
Padmé rolled her eyes. "Anakin, you're not helping things," she admonished. "You don't seem to understand how important these files are! They'll expose a corruption that goes to the very core of the Banking Clan." She gasped as Clovis emerged from his hiding place. "Clovis!" she cried, and ran to him.
"Padmé! I knew you'd come!" he said, taking her hands in his. And then he saw Anakin standing behind her, his blue eyes smouldering. He dropped her hands.

"Where's the disk?" Anakin snapped.
Clovis looked at him with a scowl. "I'm not about to hand over the information to some… pilot," he said with a sneer.
Anakin took a threatening step closer to him. "I'm a Jedi Knight who can save your life," he snapped, "if you hand over the files. So, what's it going to be? Are you going to give us the disk?"
"Why?" Clovis retorted. "So you can leave me stranded like last time?"
Anakin smirked. "Don't tempt me," he said.

Padmé was exasperated. "Can you both stop bickering so we can get out of here?" she said.
"Anakin, get us out of here!"

En route to Coruscant

The flight back to the capital was awkward and tension filled. Padmé sat beside her husband as he flew the ship, with Clovis sitting behind. She could see by the set of his jaw that Anakin was still angry, still jealous. This bothered Padmé tremendously. This side of Anakin was scary to Padmé for he could be so unpredictable, so volatile at times. And it seemed to her that it had been getting worse, exasperated by his innate jealousy where other men were concerned. She wanted to talk to him, to assure him that he was the only man that she wanted; but with Clovis there, such a conversation was impossible.

As Anakin set the ship down on the landing platform, a delegation from the senate was seen approaching the ship to greet them. Yoda was among them.
"We didn't expect such a formal welcome, Master," Anakin remarked as he, Padmé and Clovis reached the small party.
"A personal request of the Chancellor's, my escorting you was, Senator," Yoda replied.

"Have you met Rush Clovis, Master Yoda?" Padmé asked

"Met we have, yes," Yoda said, studying Clovis thoughtfully. "Intrigued we are by your return
to Coruscant. Much distrust is focused upon you."
"I understand," Clovis replied. "But I hope to right the wrongs that I have done."

In the Chancellor's office+

Bail Organa was a man of unimpeachable honour, impeccably well-mannered and honest in all things. But when he saw Rush Clovis standing in the Chancellor's office, he could not hold back his words.

"Excuse me if I find it hard to trust you, Clovis," Organa said, not mincing words. "You used to sit on this very Senate even as you funneled credits into the droid foundries of Count Dooku."

Clovis sighed. "I understand all of your trepidation," he said earnestly, "but there is corruption in the banks."

Organa was not convinced. "And once we find this… corruption?"
"I believe the ones responsible should be ousted from control before the entire banking infrastructure collapses," Clovis said.
Anakin had heard enough. "Oh, and I suppose you're the man to do it?" he commented.

Padmé shot him a hard look.
"I only want the Banking Clan to be what it once was," Clovis averred, "a fair system of trade and commerce. I came here to root out the criminals and reveal the truth behind what is happening."
"Now, now, we are grateful for you bringing us this information," Palpatine said at this point. "But what exactly can you prove?"
Clovis produce a data storage device. "These files show that huge funds have been diverted out of the banks and into what I believe are private accounts," he explained.
"And the veracity of this information?" Organa asked.

"I was the one who downloaded the files from the Munns' secure mainframe," Padmé said. "I believe that what Clovis is saying is correct."

Anakin's frown deepened as he listened to his wife defend the man he despised. From across the room, Yoda noticed Anakin's ire. It troubled him.
"Then, Senator Amidala, I would like you to spearhead this investigation," Palpatine said, to Anakin's great vexation. "Work closely with Rush Clovis and find and expose these secret accounts," Palpatine continued. "Once we know exactly what we are dealing with, then we can decide how best to handle this situation."

With the meeting adjourned, the Jedi Council and assembly of senators left Palpatine's office. Anakin and Padmé held back so that they could speak in private.

"Anakin, what is wrong with you?" she began. "You're acting in a very unprofessional manner. What if someone saw the way you were looking at Clovis? What if they put it together why you hate him?"
Anakin ignored her questions. "Why didn't you just say no?" he demanded.

Padmé was taken aback by the question. "Say no? Why?
"I don't want you working with Clovis," Anakin said bluntly.
"Excuse me?" she cried. "You don't want me working with him? What does that mean?"
"He can't be trusted. Why can't you see that?"

"Well, I do trust him," she said. "You're just going to have to have faith in my judgment."
"These words sound familiar, let's see…oh yes. Didn't you said the same thing the last time?" Anakin demanded. "When you almost ended up dead? Or how about you just getting arrested, and it was me who had to bail you out?"
Padmé was growing frustrated with his attitude. "The Chancellor has asked me to do this, Anakin. How can I say no?"
"Because I am asking you to say no," he replied hotly. "As your husband, I demand that you tell the Chancellor you are stepping down."
Padmé was shocked by his archaic attitude. What was more, she was angered by it. "Demand? Demand? You have no right to make demands of me! I'm not your property, Anakin. We've been over this before. I'm not foolish enough to allow myself to be deceived twice, Anakin, give me a little credit.
My sole intentions are to defend the Republic. If you can't trust me..."

They both turned at the sound of Clovis clearing his throat.

"Uh, excuse the interruption, Padmé. Shall we begin?" he asked.
"Yes, of course," Padmé replied. She looked back at Anakin once more and then left.

Anakin stood, helpless, watching his wife leave. He clenched his fists in frustration and then left himself. He headed to the Jedi temple, to his quarters, where he had a number of projects scattered around the room. Fixing things always calmed him, and right now he needed calming. He was using a soldering iron to affect repairs to a helmet when Obi-Wan found him.

"I've been looking for you," Obi-Wan said, watching Anakin.

Anakin didn't look up from what he was doing. "Something wrong?"
"You tell me."
"Not that I'm aware."
Obi-Wan frowned, and took a seat. "Master Yoda feels that your judgments concerning Rush Clovis are clouded."

Anakin shrugged and stopped what he was doing. "I believe he can't be trusted," he said simply.
"Yes, but there is more, isn't there?" Obi-Wan commented. Anakin looked up at him. "I sense a deep anger in you by my simply saying his name."
"He almost got Senator Amidala killed," Anakin said, his voice edged with anger, "and I would have been responsible."
"The Senator has risked her life many times," Obi-Wan pointed out. "She's quite capable of taking care of herself."
"They had a relationship once," Anakin said, the words bitter in his mouth. "I simply feel she's vulnerable to her emotions."
"She is, or you?"

"What are you implying?" Anakin demanded.
Obi-Wan sighed. "Anakin, I understand to a degree what is going on," he said. "You've met Satine. You know I once harbored feelings for her. It's not that we are not allowed to have these feelings. It's natural."
"Senator Amidala and I are simply friends," Anakin lied vehemently.
"And friends you must remain," Obi-Wan reminded him. "As a Jedi, it is essential you make the right choice, Anakin, for the Order."

"I understand my responsibilities," Anakin retorted.
"Responsibilities that must be observed whatever relationship develops between Clovis and Senator Amidala," Obi-Wan replied.

"They have no relationship," Anakin insisted. "It is simply business between them."
"Then we should have no problems, should we?" Obi-Wan remarked, and then left.

Anakin sat alone in his room, brooding. He replayed the conversation he'd had with Padmé in his head over and over, and each time it made him feel worse. I know she loves me, so why can't I let this go? Deciding he needed to talk to his wife, Anakin planned to go over to her apartment once it got dark, when skulking about was far easier. It would be a long day.

Night had fallen by the time Anakin arrived at his wife's apartment. He took the lift, formulating in his mind the words he would use to make up with her. Did I overreact? I know she loves me, I know there is nothing going on with Clovis, so what is my problem?

The door to the apartment slid open and Anakin stood frozen to the ground. There stood Padmé in the arms of Clovis, who was moving in for a kiss. Anakin's mind exploded in rage.

"Get away from her!" Anakin roared, reaching his hand out to shove Clovis away from Padmé. The hapless Clovis flew backwards and landed against the wall with a groan.

"Anakin stop it!"

Anakin glared at her, looking her up and down. She wore a black leather dress that clung provocatively to her curves, leaving her shoulders bare and a hint of cleavage visible. The sexiness of her outfit only adding to his fury. "Stay out of this!" he shouted and turned back to Clovis, who was struggling to his feet.

"Why don't you try fighting like a man without your Jedi tricks?" Clovis spat angrily.

Anakin smiled, and tossed his lightsaber aside. "Oh, it would be my pleasure," he replied, advancing on Clovis.

Using only his fists, Anakin wailed on Clovis, not stopping, not relenting, forcing the alarmed senator to back pedal. Clovis tried to get a punch in every once in a while, but Anakin was too fast for him, and dodged his every attempt.

"Both of you stop this!" Padmé cried, alarmed by Anakin's anger, frightened by the look in his eyes when he looked at her.

"You don't have a say in this!" Anakin snapped.

"I thought you said he didn't have feelings for you?" Clovis said, looking at Padmé. "Sure looks like it to me, Padmé."
Anakin saw red, and felt the darkness flow through him. He redoubled his attack, striking at Clovis with all his strength, using the Force to punctuate each blow.

"I see you for what you truly are!" he shouted as he pummelled Clovis who had stopped fighting back by now. "You're a serpent, a traitor!"
"Anakin, please! Stop this!" Padmé cried. Her pleas fell on deaf ears.

"Is that all you got?" Anakin taunted.

Clovis, who was by now exhausted, couldn't resist one final jab. "You should accept that the Senator has other interests than you," he said with a smirk. "Which should have been clear when you walked in the door, you fool."

Anakin shouted in rage and Force pushed Clovis back. He landed on a glass table, smashing it to pieces. Clovis had nearly lost consciousness when Anakin picked up his body and tossed it like a rag doll across the room before advancing on him menacingly.

"Stop it! Anakin, stop!" Padmé cried, trying to grab his arm. But Anakin simply turned on her, his eyes full of fury.

"What have you been telling him?" he shouted. "What would have happened if I hadn't got here when I did?" he demanded angrily.

"Nothing!" she cried, but Anakin ignored her, and continued to punch Clovis over and over, even though he'd stopped fighting back.

"Anakin, you're killing him! Please stop!" Padmé cried.

Anakin stopped, and looked down at the man at his feet. How did this happen? he thought anxiously, stepping away. What have I done?

"I'm sorry," he stammered.

"Senator Amidala, is everything okay in there?" asked Captain Typho over the comlink.
"No. Come in immediately," Padmé said as she helped Clovis to his feet.

Typho came in at once. "What has happened here?"
"There was an attack," Clovis said. "It was good fortune to have General Skywalker here. They escaped in a speeder over the balcony."
Typho looked at Anakin. "Is that what happened, sir?"
Anakin was shocked, but nodded.

"A medic droid is on its way," Typho reported.

"Please help Clovis into the bedroom," Padmé said, and started to follow the men as they helped Clovis.
"Padmé, I'm..." Anakin began.

She turned and looked at him, her eyes full of anger. "Stay away from me," she said coldly. And then she went to the bedroom to see how Clovis was.

Anakin stood alone in the living room, looking around at the destruction he'd wrought. It unnerved him how he'd lost control so completely, and worried that his wife would have a difficult time forgiving him for this latest incident. Walking outside, Anakin took a seat on the step and looked out over the city, his heart troubled. What if he dies? What then? How can I keep our relationship secret if it gets out that I beat him to death in a jealous rage?

Sensing his wife, Anakin stood up and turned to her as she walked towards him. Her face was impassive, and Anakin's anxiety shot up. "How is he?" he asked.

Padmé could see that he was contrite, that the beast that had beset him was gone. "Nothing that won't heal," she said, walking past him and sitting down.

"I'm so sorry, Padmé," he stuttered. "I don't know what came over me. It's just when I saw you
about to kiss him..."
"I regret that you saw that," she said. "But it was not what you thought. I can't believe that you would think that anything was going on. Surely you know how I feel. Surely you know that I don't have feelings for Clovis."
"Don't you?" he challenged. "He was here, in our home, at night, drinking wine with you. And you're dressed like …well….like…"

She frowned. "Like what?"

"Well, sexy," he stammered. "Why would you dress like that for a man you don't care about?"

"I didn't dress for him," she retorted. "I've told you why I'm doing this, but still you refuse to accept it. I never question what you need to do in the line of duty, and yet you constantly question me! This is not the first time you've reacted this way where Clovis is concerned. You could have killed him, Anakin."

Anakin frowned, and looked away. "I know," he said quietly.
Padmé sighed. "This marriage is not a marriage, Anakin, if there isn't any trust," she said sadly. "We said at the beginning that this could be a terrible mistake."

Anakin looked up at her quickly. "What exactly are you saying?"
"That other people who are married have everything that we don't, everything that we won't," she said, looking at him. "We live in secret, Anakin. Like it or not, our relationship is built on lies and deception. No relationship can survive that."
"I know I went too far," Anakin said with a sigh. "It's just...it's just that something inside me snapped."

Padmé shook her head sadly as she fought to keep a handle on her emotions. "I don't know who's in there sometimes," she said softly. "And it frightens me. I'm not happy anymore, Anakin. I don't feel safe. Sometimes I don't even know who you are!"

"But, Padme..."
"I think it's best if we don't see each other anymore," she said, standing up, needing to put some distance between them. She'd always been vulnerable to him; but she needed to be strong now.

"What are you saying?" he asked, standing up. "Surely you don't mean that!"

She turned to him, her eyes full of tears. "I am," she said. "I can't do this anymore, Anakin. I can't live with the lies, with the mistrust. I'm sorry Anakin, but it's over. I want a divorce."

Anakin was sure that he had misheard. "A divorce? You can't be serious!"

"I'm very serious," she said. "This marriage isn't working, and I can't keep pretending that I'm happy. I'm not happy, Anakin. I haven't been happy for a while."

"And it's my fault there's a war going on? That I'm called into duty and need to be away from you? Do you think I want to be away from you?" he demanded.

"I never said that," she replied. "I understand your commitment to the Jedi Order, to the Republic; but you don't seem to understand mine. You don't respect mine. You question me, you mistrust me….you frighten me, Anakin. I'm sorry."

She left him then, unable to hold back her tears. Anakin stood, dumbfounded by what had just transpired. He couldn't believe that Padmé wanted to end their marriage; after all they'd gone through to be together, how could she just end it this way? But he knew that to contest it would only draw attention to both of them, and that was something he couldn't do. He would have to give her what she wanted, all the while hoping that she'd change her mind.

Anakin flew back to the Temple in a fog. He kept hoping to wake up, that the past few hours had been a nightmare. He'd wake up in the bed he sometime shared with his wife, not nearly as often as he'd like, and make love to her. Then they'd lay in bed together for an hour and just talk, getting caught up with each other after being apart for so long. But that wasn't going to happen. He'd never share her bed again. He'd never make love to her again. And he'd never hold her in his arms again. It was over.

The temple was quiet when Anakin arrived at his spartan quarters. He sat down heavily on the narrow bed and ran his hands into his hair. I've lost her…just like I lost my mother, just like I lost Ahsoka…I've lost my Angel. It was at this point that he broke down.