Sins of the
Father: Chapter 1
She tries to look at him objectively. He’s a young man now, not her
youngling. His blonde hair is in need of trimming, his skin tanned by
Tatooine’s twin suns. His blue eyes are weighted with a worldliness
that no one this young should possess. She takes the blame for this
as she does for so many other sins. Her most recent victim, this young
man with the wizened soul and heavy heart. She tries to imagine him
another way. She tries to imagine him impatient and adventurous, whining,
cajoling. But she can’t. For none of those words could ever be
used to describe her son.
“I’m sorry,” he says quietly. She knows he means those words to the
very depth of his soul. The care she has taken to keep certain realities
from him has been futile.
Her son has a very good idea what his request can – and will – cost her.
And yet, he has to ask. Maybe he understands just how desperately
she needs to do this.
She smiles, gently touching his cheek with her calloused fingertips.
“You never have to apologize to me, Luke,” she says. “It’s long past
It’s the truth and he knows it because he can sense these things just as
Obi-Wan or Qui-Gon would have been able to sense it. And he is a far
better Jedi than his father ever was because Luke will not attempt to change
Her heart aches with the desire to see the tiniest bit of relief on his
features, to know that she has lifted his burden the most minuscule amount.
But she knows that she hasn’t. She’s just added yet another weight
for him to bear.
She blinks, pulling her cloak more closely around her head and shoulders.
The coarse material does little to shield her, for it is not desert sand and
wind she's trying to block. It is so loud here, so pungent and kinetic.
Her senses are assaulted as she steps from the ship.
She forgot. She forgot this place.
The sights, smells and sounds of Coruscant rush at her from every vector
before she's had time to completely traverse the gangplank. It has been
more than a decade since she last looked upon this teeming throng of life
and death. The mass struggle for survival is a palpable force, reverberating
in her bones. It is hard for her to imagine that this was once her
home in a way that not even Naboo had ever been. This is where she
had shared tender nights as a blushing bride. This is where she bore
her children. And yet it is foreign and desolate in ways she cannot
Those forgotten memories took place a lifetime ago. The long years
on Tatooine have made this place alien and discomfiting. This is not
home. This is the place she fled. In the wake of the war’s end
and subsequent purges, Coruscant was no longer her refuge. She could
not bear to be here. She could not bear to be near him.
She pushes the word from her mind, shifting her vision to the towering structures
illuminated brightly against the night sky. He has kept her from her
home for far too long, both here and Naboo. For the last dozen years
she has cosseted herself away in her forgotten, dust-filled corner of the
He was eager to abet her retreat. He did not threaten her. He
would never threaten her. Point of fact, he did not and does not address
her at all. This is because she does not speak to him - and he has always
been a vain, prideful creature. Luke and Leia had just learned to speak
the last time she was in the same room with him.
Padmé casts her eyes to the ground and follows Threepio and Mehht
across the landing platform. She does not wish to linger here.
Lingering would mean the possibility of drawing attention and that is the
last thing she wants to do – for now. Given her former life as a politician,
she will not rule that out as a future tactic. But for now, it would
not serve her well to have it known that she has returned to Coruscant.
She doesn't mean to surprise him. Her presence here would never do
that. Though she would never doubt the loyalty of those closest to her,
Padmé is not naïve enough to underestimate either her husband's
influence or his power. He always knows what she's doing. There's
no way she could have made it to Coruscant without his knowledge and – as
much as it angers her – his tacit approval.
For a time she was certain that he no longer cared, that he might have forgotten
her entirely. Not even the vast expanses of space and social status
separating Coruscant from the Outer Rim are sufficient to silence the rumors
of his consorts and conquests. It shames her that she cared and was
wounded by his actions. She foolishly thought his obvious attention
to other females meant that she was beyond his notice. She was wrong.
And Nar Dooja paid for her naïveté with his life. Nar was
a good man, kind and thoughtful. But he wasn't her lover, wasn't even
her confidant. He was a friend. And the mere fact that Nar dared
to visit his attentions upon the wife of Emperor Skywalker sealed his fate.
Despite Padmé’s sense of propriety, she didn’t attended Nar's funeral.
She didn’t even extended her condolences to Nar's family. She hadn't
wished to give her husband any excuses for further violence. She was
grateful that he waited until the twins were away to punish her supposed indiscretion.
That is the single common ground they now share – the care for their children.
He is ruthless and cold, yet she can not deny his devotion to Luke and Leia.
She knows it is love he feels for his children, though as with all things
in his life, it isn’t that simple. Anakin never had a father.
Obi-Wan was his mentor and the closest thing he had to a father figure, but
the relationship between a Master and a Padawan was by necessity different
from a parent’s relationship to his child. Anakin has no life experience
to guide him, so she knows he’s improvised as usual – to varying degrees of
Anakin does not relate to Luke and Leia the way Padmé’s father related
to her. Anakin isn’t one to provide quiet, unconditional acceptance,
effusive affection and gentle discipline. He is mercurial, demanding
absolute loyalty and perfection from his children. She knows from eavesdropping
on the twins’ conversations that he upbraids his children for being soft and
pampered in one breath and then spoils them rotten in the next.
She cannot depend on him to provide the twins with a stable environment.
That has always been her role to play. She has no choice in the matter.
He is their father. When the twins were younger she often thought of
running, of trying to keep the twins from him. Only the cold dread of
knowing he would have found them, that he would have taken Luke and Leia from
her, is what kept her firmly under his thumb.
She spares a glance over Threepio’s tarnished and battered shoulder at the
skyline. She is unable to prevent the frown that tugs at her lips.
Even on the landing platform far above Coruscant's surface, the Emperor's
castle towers on the horizon. This monstrosity had not been completed
when last she was here. It was in the rooms of her own apartment that
she woke after Mustafar. Cocooned by the familiarity of her bedroom,
her medical droid and her devoted handmaiden, Dormé, she never felt
More than fifteen years later, the births of both the twins and the Empire
are nothing more than an agonizing jumble of memories. The physical
pain was excruciating, but it paled in comparison to her emotional turmoil.
Her love for her children was immediate and desperate and pure. But
that love was eclipsed by heartache so profound it was nearly fatal.
She is shocked that the heartache didn't kill her.
She feels somewhat sheepish now, even thinking such nonsense. But
it is true. She knows that people don't literally die of broken hearts,
but she knows that somehow it was her destiny.
In those dark moments after Mustafar, he somehow used his newfound power
to bind her fading soul to her body, to shore up her heart, patch it together
so she could survive the death of her beloved Republic just as she survived
the death of her Anakin Skywalker.
He was right. The brash pronouncement he made as a young man following
his mother’s death came to pass. He became so powerful he could prevent
people from dying.
It took months for Padmé to recover physically. Finding emotional
stability took years. He stayed away for weeks at a time, looking in
on her when she was sleeping, receiving his children at his new Imperial residence.
He was more driven than ever during that tumultuous time, making good on
the grim future he offered at Mustafar. Perhaps invigorated by his triumph
over his first mentor, Obi-Wan, Lord Vader stopped at nothing. Luke
and Leia were toddlers when he turned on and murdered his newest mentor, Emperor
Palpatine. But the newly christened Emperor Skywalker's absence didn't
offer Padmé's heart any respite. His presence permeated the
very air she breathed.
One day it was finally more than she could take. She flung open the
doors of her gilded cage and forced Typho to escort her to the Emperor's private
quarters. As usual, her presence did not shock him. But he refused
to meet her gaze, whether from shame or boredom, she neither knew nor cared.
She would not stay there another moment. In retrospect, she knows he
expected it. He didn’t argue. He didn’t speak a single word.
He merely inclined his head in a slightly mocking bow.
Love. That was his exact phrasing. He would be so powerful
he would keep those he loved from dying. Yet she felt no love in what
he had done for her – to her. Some part of her knew that he kept
her bound to the mortal coil as punishment whether he realized it himself
Padmé fled to the one place in the galaxy that she felt would be
the most benign to him. Tatooine was the antithesis of the verdant
lushness of her own homeworld. She had no ties to the planet, no friends
or family. Despite the fact that he showed no desire to either see
or speak to her, Padmé knew better than to run to Naboo or Alderaan.
If she attempted to surround herself with friends or family, it would do nothing
but provoke his jealous and possessive nature. Anakin had no love for
his step-brother or sister-in-law, but he knew them well enough. He
knew they harbored as much distrust for the Jedi Order and Padmé's
Senatorial allies as Anakin himself held.
It was as easy to blame him then as it is to blame him now. But in
her heart, she knows that her own shame drove her to Tatooine. She didn't
want to face the people she loved, to have to explain to them how this had
happened. It was easier to forget, to hide.
But Tatooine wasn't the prison she imagined. In its own alien way,
Tatooine welcomed her. Its harsh, desolate climate echoed in the space
in her chest that used to contain her heart.
Tatooine's environment was treacherous, its inhabitants a motley bunch of
slaves, criminals and uneducated farmers. And yet, in that absolute
bleakness in which her lover had been born, she found her own rebirth.
Luke and Leia were with her, on that point he hadn't argued. Owen and
Beru took them in, as glad for the company and the extra hands as they were
for the modest stipend she drew from his Imperial accounts.
That too, had been a point of much contention. She vehemently rejected
his proclamation that he would pay for her lifestyle, whether frugal or fantastic.
She ignored his mandate and pawned the set of Irian jewels he presented to
her upon the twin's birth. She used the shockingly few credits the jewels
garnered to pay for new vaporators during her second season on the Lars farmstead.
The next day both the jewels and the pawn broker's dead body were delivered
to their doorstep. She quickly learned to accept his generosity with
– if not grace, then at the very least - silence.
When they were old enough to be away from her, the twins were escorted to
Coruscant regularly to see their father. His summons for his children
to be delivered to the nearest spaceport at the appointed time were always
relayed through some imperial lackey. As much as she resented being
at his beck and call, she didn’t dare risk giving him an excuse to visit personally.
She dutifully packed the twins up with a smile and a kiss, leaving them in
the capable care of Captain Typho.
Why she trusts a Dark Lord of the Sith with her children remains a mystery.
She knows he did nothing to deserve her trust. Obi-Wan told her about
the younglings Vader murdered at the Jedi Temple. He never even bothered
to deny the charge. And yet she did trust him. She still does.
Some part of her understands that Anakin and the twins need each other in
ways she will never fully comprehend.
Leia is here somewhere. Possibly within his castle, but more likely
out at a nightclub. She's too young, of course, to legally enter, but
everyone turns a blind eye for the heir to the Empire. Tatooine was
hard on Leia. The vibrant young girl always preferred the teeming masses
and frenetic energy of Coruscant to austere silence of Tatooine. Leia
has always preferred her father's company.
The thought does not wound Padmé as much as it once might have.
She understands now that it is the inherent likeness that draws Leia and her
father to one another. Their similar dispositions just as easily could
have put them vehemently at odds with one another. Padmé would
not have wanted that. She is grateful that they have one another, that
they can look to each other and see their own reflection. She thinks
perhaps Leia is the only thing that keeps him human.
Their transport takes them from the landing platforms to the Senate apartment
buildings. They enter her apartment and Threepio makes conversation
while Typho stands at attention. Padmé allows her gaze to wander,
pulling back the hood of her cloak as Mehht does the same.
The interior is just as she remembers. Obviously, he's kept the apartment
maintained. The view is every bit as impressive as it ever was. Padmé
takes a deep breath and despite the sense of unease pulling at her insides,
she knows she is finally home.
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