Disclaimer: Obviously, Star Wars belongs to George Lucas. :smile: I'm just playing in his sandbox.

AN: I wrote this after the Revenge of the Sith DVD came out a couple years ago and forgot about it. Finally fished it out of the depths of my hard drive, cleaned it up, and figured I'd post it. I'm a huge SW fan, but I never thought I'd actually write fanfic for it. Go figure. Anyway, enjoy!

"Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy."-Proverbs 14:10


Absolution

The man who had once been Anakin Skywalker stood at the bow viewscreen of his flagship, the Executor, his gloved hands—real and mechanical—clasped behind his back. His presence was enough to render the bridge crew silent, but his thoughts wandered the galaxy, past and present.

There was another Skywalker in the galaxy.

He had a son.

There was no mistake—the holos he had accumulated of Luke Skywalker left little doubt as to his patronage. The resemblance between the boy and the man Vader had once been were uncanny. He hailed from Tatooine—an irony Darth Vader had not failed to appreciate. Shmi Skywalker had left no other living relatives besides him when she died.

Darth Vader's hands tightened imperceptibly. The man who had been Anakin Skywalker had fathered one child. That child had been reported dead—it had died with its mother. The familiar wave of anger and guilt hovered at the edge of his consciousness. He considered using it to fuel his search for the Rebel base, but pushed it aside.

The child—Luke, his son—had not died with Padmé. He allowed his eyes to close for a split second as her name, long buried, rose to the surface of his mind. That was fact.

Cold, hard, indisputable fact.

Obi-wan—Vader's scarred face twisted only a little at the name—could not have saved her life if he, Vader, had choked her to death.

He couldn't have saved Luke.

Padmé's shuttle didn't have the medical capabilities. If he had killed Padmé, Luke should have died as well.

But he was alive.

It stands to reason then that I could not have killed her that day.

Behind his visor, Darth Vader's eyes stared unseeingly at the stars. He had been so angry…so full of blinding, all-consuming anger…that he had believed his Emperor's assertion that he had killed his wife.

Yet, it would seem he had not.

A dim memory, buried beneath layers of recrimination, rose up again before him. The man who had been Anakin remembered Padmé had still been breathing when he dropped her to battle Obi-wan.

She had still been alive.

And his son was alive.

Padmé had at least lived long enough to deliver his son, though as he had foreseen, she did not survive childbirth.

Vader remembered watching the news holo of her funeral, remembered seeing her lifeless, pregnant body carried to its final resting place. A deep seated anger began to boil inside him, directed towards Obi-wan. His former Master had undoubtedly been behind Padmé's burial as a pregnant woman when she had already given birth to their child.

The anger receded, followed by a lightness he had not felt in so many years that it was almost entirely alien to him.

Relief.

He had carried the weight of his beloved's death for over two decades, flaying himself for killing the one person he loved more than life itself.

And yet he had not taken her life.

Palpatine had lied.

For what purpose, he knew not, though his mind—older, wiser, and more cunning than the young man he had been—would soon busily sort out the solution.

For now, it was enough to know Padmé lived on in their son. He had broken her heart, doubted her love, and caused her physical pain, but at least he had not taken her life.

It was, Vader reflected, an absolution of sorts.


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