of the Father: Chapter 8
Luke is waiting
outside the war room's doors once again
holding his bag. Leia is nowhere in
sight. Padmé walks to Luke’s side and
starts to raise a hand toward his split lip.
He pulls away impatiently.
"It's nothing," he says dismissively, wiping at the wound with
the cuff of his shirt as he turns down the hall.
heart sinks as she follows her son. They walk several hundred
meters before Luke
turns onto a side corridor and heads toward a turbolift. They
enter in silence, but after Luke pushes
in the appropriate floor, Padmé forces him to turn and meet her
gaze. She takes a handkerchief from her cloak and
gently dabs at his lip. The wound
actually isn’t that bad and it has already stopped bleeding, but she
needs to inspect it thoroughly. More for
her well being than his own, Luke allows her to fuss.
there is little else she can do to heal the
physical wound, Padmé hands Luke the handkerchief and steps back.
The turbolift stops and Luke leads the way
down the hall and into another large corridor.
knows Anakin's temper is mercurial and vicious, but
her stomach is tied in knots with the knowledge that he actually struck
his children. "Please tell me this
isn't a regular occurrence," she says quietly as they walk side by side
down the hall.
Luke rubs his
jaw, his expression rueful. "No," he says. "That's the
first time he's done
that. I knew he wouldn’t take the news
well, but I really didn’t expect to get hit."
takes an infinitesimal measure of relief in Luke's
reply. She knows the atrocities Anakin
has wrought, but brutalizing his own children is worse by orders of
several more minutes before they arrive at the
suite of rooms Luke uses in the Imperial palace. The rooms aren't
luxurious, but they are far
more opulent than Anakin's quarters. A
small hallway leads from the doors into a large living room,
appointed with a repulsor couch, several arm chairs and an enormous
fireplace. There's another hallway which
Padmé immediately inspects. It leads to
a bedroom, an office and finally to the small galley kitchen she needs.
She rummages through drawers, finding a small
towel and using it to wrap up a handful of ice.
Luke is waiting
in the living room when she returns and he
takes the ice pack with a smile of gratitude.
He has closed the doors and thrown his bag into a nearby chair.
There are large windows in the room with a
panoramic view of Galactic City.
Luke walks to
the windows and watches ships traverse the
high-speed air traffic lanes in the bright midday sun. He clasps
his hands, ice pack and all, behind
his back, his stance wide. It unnerves
Padmé how reminiscent his posture is of Anakin.
"Do you think
there's any chance Father will release Obi-Wan?"
Luke asks, still staring out the window.
struck by how young he sounds in this moment. She
realizes that through Luke and Leia know their father has a violent
doubts either of them have ever been in a situation with him that would
his jealous and possessive nature. Luke, for all of his wisdom
insight, is still only a sixteen year old boy.
He has no idea the magnitude of issues he's stirred up.
torn between a desire to comfort her son and her need to stop trying to
him from the truth.
"I think it more
likely we'll see snow on Tatooine," Padmé
says in reply.
slump, but he doesn't reply.
"How did you
find Obi-Wan?" she asks. There are empty chairs, but she finds
too tightly wound to sit.
says, glancing at Padmé. He shrugs.
"I think he found me."
waits patiently knowing that Luke wants – no needs – to tell her this
tale. She watches as he experimentally presses the
icepack to his lip.
"I was always
drawn to the Temple,"
Luke says, his vision fixated in the distance on the ruins of the Jedi Temple. "I found
holocrons, records. I pieced together what happened."
looks at her son and wonders what story it is that he
wove. It took her years of retrospection
to realize just how sinister and devious Palpatine truly was – how
played the warring factions against one another. How expertly he
manipulated the Jedi and
Anakin in particular.
searching, I was drawn to a certain name again
and again," Luke says.
"Your father was
his Padawan learner," Padmé says.
few years ago I went through Father's personal files. I found
references to Ben and to Desolation
Alley. I couldn't ignore it. I finally went there and spoke
with him. In secret."
marvels at her son's nerve. She is both proud and terrified.
Anakin would be incredibly angry if he
discovered Luke went through his private records. She also knows
exactly why Luke sought out
Obi-Wan in secret. His split lip is
testament enough to how difficult it is to ask his father for
asking permission would have been a death sentence for Obi-Wan.
"How is he?" she
asks, her voice thick.
"Not well," Luke
says gravely, turning to face his
mother. He lowers the icepack. "He's blind, crippled.
I think the only reason he lived this long is
because he was waiting on me."
quickly, Padmé tries futilely to stave off
tears. She knew before she asked what
Luke would say. For Obi-Wan to be
imprisoned so long, there was no question as to the grievous nature of
"Ben told me the
truth," Luke says, his jaw
set. "He told me what
finally collapses into the chair, her arms wrapped
tightly around her middle. She hates
what she's about to do, but she can't stop.
As abhorrent as she finds defending Anakin’s actions, she can’t allow
to be the only voice to shape Luke’s perspective. "You have to
understand, Luke," she
says, "that Obi-Wan isn't an uninvolved party in this."
Luke looks at
her, his gaze narrowing. "Are you saying Ben is lying?" he
Padmé assures him, "but Obi-Wan is only
human. There were many truths your
father chose to keep from him."
Her answer seems
to placate Luke and he visibly
relaxes. "Ben says that Father
betrayed the Jedi Order, that he led the massacre on the Temple."
"That's true," she says quietly. "He did what he thought he had
to do in
order to protect those he loved – as hopelessly misguided as that was.
He also killed the Separtist leaders and
ended the war."
growls in exasperation. "Who was he trying to protect by
murdering Jedi?" he demands.
shimmer in Padmé's eyes and her throat
constricts tightly. "Me," she says on a
whisper. She lowers her head, staring blindly into her
doesn't know how long she sits there, but eventually
she realizes that Luke is crouched next to her chair, his hand laid
her arm. She looks up into his clear
blue eyes. "I'm sorry," she
says heavily. "This is the guilt
that kept me on Tatooine for almost fifteen years."
expression is a mixture of frustration and
sadness. "It wasn't your
fault," he says firmly. "You
didn't do this. He did."
Padmé says. Luke's words are completely reasonable and
perfectly at odds with the truth in her heart.
"But no matter how horrible his actions, you have to understand
that your father did what he believed was necessary – what Chancellor
convinced him was necessary – to save me.
And you. And your sister."
harden and he rises to his feet. “You can’t justify genocide,” he
Padmé agrees, “you can’t. But he’s your father, Luke.
And your legacy. And even if you don’t agree, even if you’re
repulsed by his actions – especially
if you’re repulsed by his actions – you need to understand the forces
him the man he is. Or you’re destined to
repeat his mistakes.”
Luke seems to
He slumps into a chair across from Padmé.
“You know the
Tusken ghost camp in the Junland Wastes?”
Luke looks at
her in confusion, but nods. “The place where the Sandpeople leave
sacrifices to the evil ghost that killed an entire camp.”
nods. “The evil
ghost was your father.”
furrows and he leans forward, bracing his elbows
on his knees. “Father left Tatooine when
he was a child.”
“We went back,”
“Anakin and I. Shortly before the
massacre of the Jedi at the Battle of Geonosis.
I was an influential Senator and there were several attempts on my
life. The Council sent me home to Naboo
with your father as my escort and protector.”
Luke nods and
shifts uncomfortably in his chair. He undoubtedly has figured out
that’s how his
parents became involved and he’s slightly embarrassed by it.
Nobody wants to think about their parents
being intimate. Luke is already scarred
by last night. It’s such a human
reaction that Padmé almost has to smile despite the gravity of
thoughts force her mood to sober. “We didn’t know it at the time –
I didn’t find out until many years later –
but Chancellor Palpatine ordered the leader of the Separtists to pay
off a group
of Tuskens. Dooku bribed them to kidnap
your grandmother, Shmi. Your father had
violent nightmares the entire time we were on Naboo. Visions of
his mother in pain, being
narrow as he tries to recall details he
overheard from conversation snippets throughout his childhood.
“Thirty men went looking for her, but only
four came back,” he says. “That’s how
Grandpa Lars lost his leg.”
father went out alone,” she says. “The
next morning he returned with his mother’s body.”
Luke looks at
He has heard portions of the story for years, but no one has ever laid
it out so plainly.
“She was still
alive when Anakin found her,” Padmé
says. “The Tuskens tortured her for
weeks, prolonging her suffering as much as possible. She died in
“And he slaughtered the entire village.”
“Even the women
and the children,” Padmé says.
Luke rises to
his feet and paces to the window. “It’s inexcusable that she was
way,” he says, “but it doesn’t justify his vengeance.”
“He believed it
was his fault,” Padmé says. “He still
believes it. He thinks if he had trusted
his dreams, if he had gone to Tatooine earlier, he could have saved
Luke turns to
look at Padmé and she forces herself out of
“The war was so
violent,” Padmé says, “and fought on so many
fronts. Our time together was precious
and scarce. I was far into my pregnancy
by the time your father found out he was going to be a father.”
Luke squirms and
quickly looks away.
elated,” Padmé says. “But the nightmares immediately
forgotten, Luke once again meets her gaze.
convinced he was going to lose me, that I was going
to die in childbirth. He was unable to
foresee if the baby – we didn’t know you were twins – survived.”
Luke is silent,
absorbing his mother’s words.
offered him the means to save me – to save us,”
she says. “He took it. Regardless of the consequences, he
Luke turns to
look at the window, staring blindly for
several long moments. Finally, he turns
back to Padmé. “Why didn’t you ever tell
us any of this?” he asks.
“I don’t know,”
Padmé says, blinking back tears. “It was so painful to
remember. Speaking about it seemed impossible. Plus, Owen
and Beru weren’t going to bring it
up. They disapproved wholeheartedly of
the life I led, the life your father led and the circumstances that
sent me to
Tatooine. They were more than happy to
hide it all away from you and Leia."
She takes a deep
"I suspect your father feels the past is irrelevant.”
Luke shakes his
“Obi-Wan didn’t tell me about the Tusken camp,” he says.
know,” Padmé replies. “Your father chose to confide in me
Chancellor Palpatine rather than in his Master.”
against the back of the chair with a weary
"Have you lost
faith in him?" Padmé asks
gently. "You were so adamant when
you convinced me to return to Coruscant."
Luke stares into
the unlit fireplace. He finally looks at Padmé.
"There's good in him," Luke says
quietly. "I can feel it." He rubs his hands roughly over
his face. "I'm just so confused."
Anakin like a brother," Padmé
says. "But the path Anakin chose …
Obi-Wan couldn't stand back and watch.
Anakin's fall to the dark side killed something inside Obi-Wan.
As far as he is concerned, Anakin Skywalker
died sixteen years ago. Obi-Wan came to
me after the slaughter at the Jedi Temple. He wanted me
to tell him where Anakin had
gone – so he could find him and kill him."
Luke's eyes go
wide and she can feel the war inside
him. He trusts Obi-Wan, considers him a
mentor. She cannot fault Luke for
that. Obi-Wan told him about the past,
engaged him in it when so many others – herself included – were
keeping the twins' true heritage a secret from them. But the
lines of loyalty are not clear. Anakin is his father –
dysfunctional yes, but
still his father. Anakin is the one who
helped him build his lightsaber, who taught him to pilot a starfighter.
Luke's path is not clear and Padmé does not
envy the choices he has to make.
"I couldn't do
it," Padmé says on a whisper. "I couldn't betray Anakin.
I still can't. I love him.
I have to have faith that even if he's too far gone to save himself,
that he still has the strength to save Leia from his fate."
Staring into the
fire Luke lit in the hearth, Padmé slowly
sips her H'Kak bean tea. She is drained
emotionally and physically from the day's events. Luke is in the
'fresher showering and
changing the clothes bloodied by his split lip.
Outside the windows, the sky darkens as dusk fades into evening.
reflects on the words she said to Luke. I love
She was shocked to hear herself
speak those words. She loves the memory
of her Anakin Skywalker. Without a
doubt, Emperor Skywalker, Lord Vader provokes a tumultuous rush of
She doesn’t know.
doesn’t want to love Lord Vader.
She was proud to love Anakin Skywalker, to be
his wife. That sentiment does not extend
to Lord Vader. Loving Lord Vader would
She shifts in
her chair, setting the mug on a nearby
table. As she shifts, something digs
into her hip and she reaches into the pocket of her cloak. She
removes the white box that Threepio
handed her this morning. Was it only
She turns it
around in her hand. It looks innocuous enough. The only
detail Threepio offered was that it
was delivered by Imperial courier.
Exhaustion makes her reckless and she releases the clasp on the box,
In the dim
light, the gem twinkles. Padmé stares into the box for
moments. With a curious expression, she
tips the box, dropping the gem into her palm.
She holds it up to the firelight.
The gem is a rectangular, step-cut sapphire of the deepest blue
onto a strand of braided chersilk. Onto
the surface of the sapphire is etched the same Tatooine sand symbol as
ignores the way her eyes burn and pushes herself to
her feet. From the moment she returned
to Coruscant, she has tiptoed around Anakin, afraid to provoke his
wrath. In this moment, she is finished tiptoeing. She has
assumed many roles when speaking to
Anakin; concerned mother, dutiful former Senator, friend of Obi-Wan.
Right now, she needs to speak with
As his wife.
Anakin is in the
ballroom again. Not the Grand Ballroom where they hosted the
Hapan dinner last night, but the Fijisi wood ballroom where she found
training the first time she visited the Imperial Palace. The porter
who escorted her from Luke's suite
walks her to the base of the stairs and then with a quick bow,
leaving them alone.
through lightsaber forms and judging by the way
sweat plasters the fabric of his shirt to his body, he’s been at it
altercation in the war room. His hair is
completely sodden, making it deceptively dark.
His skin is flushed from physical exertion and the scar over his right
eye stands out sharply.
executes three moves in quick succession and
fluidly turns to face her, deactivating the lightsaber blade.
He’s breathing hard and his jaw is set in a
rigid, defiant expression.
She doesn’t say
a word as she crosses the room to stand
directly in front of him. With equal
silence, she takes his right, leather-clad hand and presses the
sapphire to his
palm. She turns, walking back to the
“You don’t like
my gifts?” he demands.
turns, glaring. "You hit my child," she seethes.
"He's not a
child," Anakin replies coldly. "He's a man. And if he had
been any other man, I would
have killed him where he stood."
With a look of
disgust, she again turns to the stairs,
striding angrily toward them.
She ignores him,
taking the stairs two at a time.
With a growl, he
clips his lightsaber to his belt and bounds
up the stairs.
reaches the top, he’s right behind her, sapphire
still clutched tightly in hand. He doesn’t reach out. She doesn’t
slow. He’s half a step behind her and Padmé knows
in the back of her mind that this is absurd.
A physical confrontation with Anakin is pointless and bound to be
humiliating. She can’t possibly
win. But something in her cannot stop
and will not surrender. Not this time.
She pushes her
meager weight against one of the gargantuan
doors at the top of the stairs. She
slips through the opening, shoving it closed with one hand even as she
down the enormous corridor. She can hear
Anakin’s growl of irritation as the door swings closed at him and he
pushes it out of the way.
running now, swinging her arms and walking as
fast as her legs will carry her. Anakin
easily falls into step next of her, apparently contented to simply keep
pace. Her teeth grind together. Her heart is pounding like
she’s about to
have a coronary and he looks like he’s out for a gentle stroll.
She stops abruptly.
He takes another
step and gracefully pivots, turning to face
her. He crosses his arms over his chest
and smirks at her. For once, his smirk
is playful rather than malicious.
narrows even further. “I am not
playing with you,” she fumes.
Her words sober
his mood and the smirk disappears. After a moment of hesitation,
he once again
holds out the sapphire.
She smacks his
hand out of the way and only his Jedi
reflexes prevent the sapphire from falling to the ground. “You
can’t buy me off,” she informs him
curtly, stepping around him and continuing down the hallway.
“I wasn’t trying
to buy you off, Senator,” he replies, this
time falling into step directly behind
her. His feet hit the floor milliseconds
after her feet leave it.
She ignores him
and continues to stalk down the
corridor. They walk for a minute, then
another in silence. Padmé looks around
and realizes she has no idea where she’s going.
She stops, swiveling to face him.
She glares up at him and he looks down at her, their faces mere inches
he says smugly.
“I’ll figure it
out,” she replies, turning away.
He sighs as she
strides away. He lets her get a dozen paces ahead before he
follows. Padmé doesn’t know how long she
walks, but the windows they pass show that evening is giving way to
Lorian?” Anakin asks.
“I sent him to
The Works with Mehht,” Padmé replies
sharply. She doesn’t want to talk to
him, but she also doesn’t want Lorian to be punished for following her
walking and turns to face him. “Luke was in the shower when I
the blood off his face.”
Anakin has the
decency to look away. He stares at a window, then the wall, then
the floor. Finally he meets her
accusatory stare. “It wasn’t one of my
finer moments,” he grudgingly admits.
knows that’s as close as either she or Luke is going
to get to an apology from him. She
crosses her arms over her chest, still glaring.
“What do you
want from me?” he demands.
Anakin,” she replies sharply. “I don’t want anything from you.”
never one of his virtues. She suspects it still isn’t. But
he is patient tonight. Either that or he intends to let her walk
to exhaustion. Even if that isn’t his
plan, it’s working.
She has walked
for hours, too proud and too angry to ask for
directions or help. Her feet and calves
ache. She slows her pace and eventually
comes to a stop. He continues walking
until he's even with her.
She looks at him.
"Where is Luke's suite?" she demands.
He points over
his shoulder in the opposite direction. "About a three hour walk
audibly wishing she had something to kick.
"My rooms are
just up the hall," he says. "You can com' Luke and have a seat
you wait for him."
"Do you even
have a chair?" she demands. "I don't remember seeing one.
I'm not sitting on the floor. And don’t think for one second that
anywhere near your bedroom or your sleeping couch after the way you
spoke to me
He has the
decency to look contrite. "I have a chair," he assures her.
He takes the
lead and she follows him the several hundred
meters up the corridor and around a bend to his quarters. The
door hisses shut behind them and he takes
a tall metal stool from where it's tucked under one of the workbenches
motions for her to sit.
Anakin moves to
dig in his pocket for his comlink, but first
he looks at the sapphire rune in his hand.
He glances at her cautiously.
dare," she seethes, taking a seat on
the stool. "You will not placate me with
baubles. I'm insulted at the implication."
"I'm not trying
to placate you," he says,
frustrated, but not angry.
is so utterly clueless that were the
circumstances any less grave than they are, she would have laughed.
She isn't laughing.
"Why are you
insulted?" he asks rather than
reason you gave me that is because Ta'a Chume embarrassed you," she
snaps. "And for you to try and
re-create my Japor snippet …" she falls silent, sputtering in
exasperation. "I am not one of your women
and a shiny
trinket will not put you back in my good graces."
"One of my women?"
he repeats. "What is that supposed
She slides off
the stool, rising to her full height as she
glares at him. "You have the gall
to accuse me of infidelity when you know damn well that you're the only man I've ever been
with. You punished Obi-Wan for it. You killed
Nar Dooja. Do not pretend for one second
that you've been faithful to me."
He crosses his
arms over his chest. Pointedly, he looks around the room.
"Does this look like a lair of seduction
to you?" he asks.
Her glare is
"The location is quite irrelevant to me," she bites out. "Though
I suspect that you are just
twisted enough to think that if it isn't happening in your bedroom that
He falls silent,
realizing that his lame argument won't
work. She finds it quite pathetic that
he is challenged so rarely that he thinks his flimsy rebuttal would
"Are there other
heirs to the Empire I should know
about?" she demands. "Should
Luke and Leia be worried about half-siblings trying to take their
This time he
does look quite offended. He steps closer and leans in toward
nasty expression on his face. "You are the mother of my
he says. "My only children."
She watches him
cautiously for a moment, but begrudgingly
believes him. With a huff, she turns,
resuming her seat on the stool. He gives
her the comlink and she calls Luke who is relieved to hear from her.
He promises to arrive shortly.
returns the comlink to Anakin and leans back in the
chair. It's not very comfortable. She tries to make the
best of it.
Anakin stands on
the opposite end of the room, leaning
against the dull gray wall. His hair and
shirt have dried from his training session, but look worse for the wear.
The shirt is rumpled and his hair, though
short, is sticking up at odd angles, doing its best to curl. He
doesn't look Imperial. He looks like a spacer who hasn't had
leave in months.
glancing around the room, she says, "Why
bother being the Emperor if you're going to live like this? Your
room at the Jedi Temple
was nicer than this hole. It looks like
the Lars homestead garage."
His gaze travels
the room and he shrugs. "I like it," he says.
"No you don't,"
says, "It feels familiar."
That answer, she
As a slave and then a member of a monastic order, he certainly should
accustomed to austere accommodations.
She crosses her
legs, her foot tapping the air
impatiently. "Why did you kill
Palpatine?" she asks baldly.
"As Emperor, you let Mas Amedda run the government. Korto handles
all your personal affects. Palpatine handed you the military as
he declared himself Emperor. I don't
understand why you needed more."
He pushes off
the wall, crossing his arms over his chest as
he meets her gaze. "Palpatine was
evil," he says.
"I know," she
replies dryly. "He had company."
He walks to the
workbench and picks up a broken droid
part. He turns it over in his hand. "I didn't want to be
admits, not meeting her gaze.
"I remember you making me an offer to the contrary."
He turns his
head and looks at her. "And I remember you refusing."
"It wasn't any
fun if you weren't going to have a
playmate?" she asks, her voice thick with sarcasm.
already pointed out," he counters,
"I can't do it alone. I'm not any
good with politics or infrastructure or paperwork. Palpatine had
all that figured out. He knew how to make people work for him,
to manipulate them into a corner to accomplish exactly what he wanted."
She eyes him
"Even you?" she asks, quirking an eyebrow.
"Most of all
me," he says with a humorless laugh,
setting the droid part back on the workbench.
"I was Palpatine's monster, the big scary creature in black to
strike fear into the heart of the Republic so no one would dare defy
him. I was his vengeance, his anger, freeing him
up to play the role of benevolent dictator."
"And the monster
chose to bite his Master's hand?"
He turns to face
her, leaning a hip against the
workbench. He studies her
carefully. "No," he says. "I didn't plan to kill him."
fights the urge to laugh. "Was it an accident?" she
asks. "He slipped and fell on your
quirk into a hard, humorless smile. Obviously, he isn't
accustomed to being questioned in any capacity,
much less being given a
hard time. "No," he
replies. "He didn't slip. I hated him.
I wished him dead. He promised me
the power to save you – and I did. But
at what cost? You couldn't even bear to
look at me. No, I hated him. I hated what he turned me
watches him for several long moments. She believes his sincerity,
but she still
isn't inclined to feel any compassion for him.
"And yet you didn't intend to kill him?" she asks.
"In theory, yes.
But an actual plan, no. I had too
many weaknesses, you, Luke, Leia."
He shrugs and runs a hand over the growth of stubble on his jaw.
"That was Palpatine's mistake," he
says, "I already knew the score, but he wanted to drive home the
point. It didn't turn out like he
truly curious now.
He meets her
gaze, holding it for a long moment. "Are you sure you want to
She nods, filled
with bravado even though she isn't certain
she wants to know.
"He summoned me
to his throne room," Anakin
says. "He was there – with Luke and
Leia. I acted before I formed a
blood runs cold at the thought of her babies – and
they would very nearly have been babies at the time, barely toddling –
the only reason it worked,"
Anakin continues. "Palpatine was
the best swordsman I've ever seen – better than Yoda, better than Mace
Windu. I could never have taken him in a
fair fight. But I reacted before I knew
what I was doing. I killed him."
stares at him in silence.
They both turn
as the outer door hisses open and Luke steps
into the room.
Luke looks from
Padmé to Anakin and back, fully aware that
he has stepped into the middle of something.
He takes in their collective disheveled appearance, but is visibly
relieved they aren't touching each other.
"Are you ready
to go?" Luke asks Padmé. "Mehht's commed me a dozen times.
wants to speak with you."
nods to look and then gives Anakin one last
speculative glance. She has no idea what
to think of the mercurial creature she married.
She slides off the stool and takes several steps toward the door.
strikes her and she stops. Turning to Anakin, Padmé says,
"I need a
slicer to look at Korsa Dae's computer terminal at the ODP offices.
Do you have any good ones?"
Anakin nods, his
expression guarded. He seems as confused as Padmé as to
of their union, but he doesn't seem inclined to provoke her.
"Taly Fry," he says. "I'll talk to him."
Turning to Luke,
Anakin asks, "You okay?"
replies. He waits a beat, then, "Is my ship still
"Leia took off,"
Luke offers with a bit too much enjoyment. "Offworld. Just
so you know."
the bridge of his nose between his thumb and
forefinger. "I should have been a
monk," he grumbles under his breath.
ignores him, following Luke out the door.
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