The way her face
lights up is nearly fatal to his already battered heart.
Clutching Leia tighter, Anakin descends the
gangplank, forcing himself to concentrate on his steps, on the beating
Leia’s heart, on anything except his wife joyously bounding across the
platform toward him.
“Anakin!” She’s breathless, smiling from ear to ear.
He looks at her and
knows the turmoil in his heart and soul is clearly etched on his
features. Her smile falters for a moment
and then fades
entirely. “Are they okay?” she demands,
immediately looking at the children. She
takes Luke from Aube’s arms, cuddling
near, inspecting him for injuries or illness.
Milady,” Aube answers brightly. “They’re beautiful children.
by Aube’s answer, but her questioning gaze immediately returns to
Anakin. “I don’t understand.”
Aube says, bowing.
With her quiet grace, she ascends the gangplank and disappears
mute. He didn’t bother to correct the
way Aube addressed him.
Though technically incorrect, he suspects she
did it for Padmé’s benefit, so his wife would know he was still
a Jedi and Aube was his subordinate.
the horizon and he is unable to take any comfort in the fact that he is
place he has always loved. The blue
skies and verdant lushness of Naboo do nothing to calm his turmoil. “Can we go somewhere?” he asks quietly.
frowned upon for Jedi to steal,” Leia says
at the young Queen as they walk down the
residential lane. “What makes you think
we’re going to steal something?”
She gives him a
knowing look. “We’re stranded on a planet with no
credits. It’s obvious whoever is
following us has access to our supposedly secret travel manifest, so
anyone for help is a dangerous prospect.
I can see the tops of the shipyards over these houses so I know that’s
where we’re heading. Unless you have
some great friend who conveniently happens to work there and owe you a
big favor, we’re either going to steal a ship or sneak aboard and stow
quickly to cover a laugh. He schools his attention straight
looking at either Obi-Wan or Leia. “She
has a point, Master.”
“Ye of little
faith,” Obi-Wan admonishes, but Anakin knows
from the tone of his voice he is most amused by Leia’s argument.
the small apartment, shamed his family is forced to live here. Though it is far more luxurious than any
accommodations he had as a child, by the standards to which
Padmé has become
accustomed, it is a hovel. He hoped she
would be staying with her parents or her sister, but he knows why she
take this small apartment after resigning her Senate seat.
She hoped he would come home to her.
He looks at his
and then at his daughter still resting contently in his arms. He shakes his head. “I
She nods, blinking
quickly to stave off tears. “I knew
… I mean I always knew it was a
possibility,” she says. “We never
planned to have children. We agreed we
wouldn't. I knew it would
be complicated –
“I don’t regret
Anakin says, interrupting her rambling speech.
She looks at him and he holds her gaze.
“I don’t regret it,” he repeats.
“None of it. I love you. I love Luke and Leia.”
She is silent for a
long moment. “But you’re leaving us.”
Leia starts to cry
Anakin tries to shush her, but he is so agitated he only makes it worse. Padmé sets Luke on the floor in the
his toys and takes Leia from Anakin.
Leia continues to wail, but the volume and insistence decreases.
Anakin watches his
wife and children. They’re so close,
mere steps away yet he feels irreparably separated from them. “I have to,” he whispers.
at him and
there is no anger in her gaze, only sadness.
Her understanding wounds Anakin even more. He
wants her to be angry with him. He wants
her to blame him, to rage at
“Will we ever see
you?” she asks. “Will the children know
“I don’t know,” he
answers with brutal honesty.
“Do you think
they’re all right?” Leia asks.
Anakin looks at
his daughter. He knows she is concerned about Bail, Typho
and her handmaidens, but she has shown such resilience since the attack
forgot how young she is. “I don’t
believe any of them were wounded in the ambush.”
She studies him
carefully for a moment. “You can’t just … tell?”
He raises an
you use the Force?”
His brow furrows
and he smiles. “I’m not omnipotent. I can't dip into the
Force and feel how any
random person is doing.”
She frowns and
sighs heavily, using her foot to make
patterns in the dirt of the small alley where they wait for
Without looking at him, she says, “I can … sense you. When we
were on the ship, even when I was in
a different room, I knew where you were.”
She looks up at him.
There is a
warmth in his chest, pride in his daughter's
abilities. He doesn't know how much
Padmé might have told the twins about him – if anything.
He doesn't know if Leia understands he is her
father. But he hopes the significance of
their bond isn't lost on her. “The Force
is like that sometimes. For certain
people with certain connections.
Especially in close quarters.”
She holds his
gaze for several long moments before looking
away. “Luke does freaky stuff like that
all the time, but it’s never happened to me.
Not before today.”
“You can feel
your brother through the Force?”
shrugs. “But he’s my twin. I figured it was mostly him
doing it. Not me.
He’s much better at that stuff than me.”
unsure of what to say. He is delighted to find his children share
his abilities. And he is ravenous for
the intimate details of their lives.
“I thought the
Jedi Order took Force-sensitives to the Temple to train them,”
Leia says warily, watching him closely.
“So why didn’t they take Luke?”
Leia's gaze without flinching. “What makes you think they would
He can't resist
“How do you know?”
“Because I’m not
Luke was meant to be a Jedi.”
help but smile at Leia’s rationale. “The Order can’t take
children. Parents have to consent to their children’s
“Why wouldn’t my
mother have consented?”
Anakin waits a
moment, then another. “Maybe it wasn’t your mother who didn’t
“You don’t want
trained? Are they not Force-sensitive?”
“They are very
in the Force,” Anakin confirms proudly.
It’s difficult, of course, to tell with infants so young. But his connection with Leia and Luke is so
strong he knows they have abilities far beyond those of normal
“You told the
She sits down on
floor with the babies, but looks up at him.
“Why would you refuse to allow them to be trained?”
He paces around the
room and then stops, looking at her.
“The Council’s stance on training children hasn’t changed. If we consent to allow Luke and Leia to
become part of the Order, they will separate them – from each other and
certainly from you and me.”
blankly for a moment, then looks at the children. She
reaches out and touches each of them as
if to reassure herself they are really with her. She
shakes her head, still watching the babies. “I
don’t understand.” She looks up at him. “You saved the Republic. You
killed Palpatine. Why would they treat you
that way? Why would they – “
“A Jedi shall not
anger. Nor hatred. Nor
Tears glisten in
eyes. “Surely they can’t think that
after everything you’ve done that attachment is dangerous –
“I almost did it!”
He doesn’t mean to
yell and it startles all of them. He
swallows thickly, looking at his wife and children.
“I almost did it,” he repeats, this time
softly. “I almost saved Sidious.”
She shakes her
head. “I don’t believe it,” she says
vehemently. “You’re a good man,
Anakin. You were confused. We all were.
Palpatine played with your emotions and fears.”
“I almost fought
Master Windu in order to save a Sith Lord,” Anakin insists quietly. “I almost did it because he convinced me that
only he had the power to save you and the children.”
quickly rises to her feet and crosses the small room to him, wrapping
tightly around his waist and resting her head against his chest.
Though he knows the
danger, he cannot push her away. He
wraps his arms around her, hugging her tightly, burying his nose in her
hair. He wants nothing more than to stay
here with his wife and children. But he
understands the danger. Padmé can
it as much as she wants, but Anakin knows the truth.
He knows how close he came to turning to the
dark side. He knows Padmé has
far more faith in him than is prudent.
Maybe one day he
truly be as strong as she thinks he is.
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