Small Mercies
by indie
set in the The Senator's Wife au universe.
Takes place two months after 'Revenge of the Sith'

It is revoltingly easy to enter the supposedly secure apartment at 500 Republica.  The small penthouse was originally appointed for use by the Senator from the Chommell sector, but recently ownership was transferred to the Senator from the Alderaan sector.  He guesses Padmé has Bail Organa so pussy whipped he moved into her apartment.  Or maybe Organa wanted to get away from the memory of his dead wife.  Or maybe the move was the price Padmé negotiated for abandoning a life supposedly pledged to helping others.

It disgusts Lord Vader to his core.  How many times did he listen to Padmé speak with such passion about the rights of others, about her duty as a public servant.  Lies.  All of it lies.  And like so many of her other lies, the naïve, lovesick boy he had once been believed them all.  Luckily Darth Vader shares none of Anakin Skywalker’s weaknesses.  None of his sentimentality.  None of his love.

Darth Vader loves no one.

The apartment changed since he was last here.  The fastidious tidiness has been replaced by a sort of homely chaos.  There is a decidedly lived-in feel to the space that wasn’t here previously.  Maybe this is what it means to have a family.

Vader’s stomach roils and he pushes away the sentimental thoughts, venturing closer to the apartment’s master suite.  Lying, venomous bitch.  He did it for her.  All of it for her.  And how does she repay him?  With gratitude?  With affection?  No.  With betrayal.  Lies.  Deceit.

As an exercise in mental torture, he often contemplates how long Padmé was fucking Organa before she decided to marry him.  Did Padmé’s heart always belong to Organa?  Did she think of Organa while Anakin Skywalker fucked her?  His mind reflexively shies from the very idea, but perversely, he forces himself to consider it more closely, relishing the pain and rage it brings.   Anger is power.  His Master has taught him that lesson well.  Did Organa know about Padmé and Skywalker?  Did Padmé and Organa laugh at him behind his back?  Was Anakin Skywalker's absolute devotion a source of amusement to them?

They may have laughed at Anakin Skywalker, but they will not laugh at Darth Vader.

He stands in the open doorway to the master suite, watching the Organas sleep.  He allows himself to notice certain things, the fact that they obviously share a bed, the ridiculously expensive ring on Padmé’s left ring finger, the way Organa’s hand rests lightly on Padmé’s hip.

What he doesn’t allow himself to notice is how painfully thin Padmé looks, how drawn and tired.  He doesn’t notice that Padmé sleeps with her back to her husband, curled tightly into a little ball.  And he certainly doesn’t notice the Japor wood rune Padmé wears around her right wrist.  He ignores these thing.  Because these realizations will not fuel his rage.  And right now, what Lord Vader needs most is rage.  Blinding rage.

With preternatural silence, he crosses the bedroom and enters the suite’s smaller room.  When he was here last, it was Padmé’s private study.  Now, as he anticipated, it is the nursery.  He is shocked there is only one crib.  He knows Padmé bore twins, the announcement was all over Holonet.  But, he reasons, they must still be very small.  They probably share a crib.  He approaches slowly, clinging to his rage.  These children are the undeniable proof of Padmé's duplicity, of her betrayal.  She allowed – even encouraged - the ridiculously misguided Skywalker to love her.  All the while her heart really belonged to Organa.

The existence of these children are an insult to him, a bitter wound that eats at him.  Lord Vader should have no such wound, no such weakness.  This is the final remnant of Anakin Skywalker and it must be dealt with.  Lord Vader can allow no one and nothing to have this much sway over him.  Padmé must be punished.  Since he saw her two days ago following the Imperial parade, he has thought of little else.  The bitch had the audacity to address him by his former name, to speak to him as if she mourned Anakin Skywalker's death – all the while she warmed Organa's bed, cared for Organa's children.  Such an egregious lack of respect will not go unpunished.

He's done this before.  He can do this again.  He was the one who dispatched the younglings at the Temple, not the clone troopers.  He avoids remembering he forbade the clones to touch the younglings, reasoning that a proud, quick, painless death by his blade was far preferable to a blaster bolt from a clone.  He has murdered children.  He has murdered his own kind.  He can do this.  He has to do this.

He steps closer and pulls back his hood, peering inside the crib.  The lightsaber is in his hand.

He startles as two sets of eyes blink up at him. 

They're just … laying there, watching him with huge, round eyes. 

They stare at each other for what must be minutes. 

He has cared for children before – the dreaded duty in the Temple's crèche.  But never ones so young as these two.  He knows their names are Luke and Leia.  Holonet wouldn't shut up about that.  One is dark, like Padmé, the other fair.  He doesn't know which is which.  It's impossible to distinguish girls from boys at this age, swaddled in diapers.  And they are both dressed in little white outfits.

Lord Vader sighs inwardly with disgust. 

He can't do this. 

He hates himself for the weakness, but it's undeniable.  He can't murder these children regardless of the fact that their mother is a lying whore.

He clips the lightsaber back on his belt and pulls up his hood, turning to leave.  One of them – the fair-haired one – kicks its legs and squawks.  Vader instantly spins around, reflexively shushing the child.  As soon as their eyes meet, the baby settles.  Then it gives him a big, toothless, slobbery grin.  Maybe it has gas.

Then it kicks its legs again and pounds its little fists.  The dark haired one looks over at the fair-haired one and kicks its legs too.  Vader knows they're going to start screaming at any second.  He leans over the crib and shushes them again.  Without thinking about it, he reaches into the crib, the fingers of his left hand splayed in a universal sign for the anklebiters to stop what they're doing and be quiet.

In unison, the babies reach out, the dark haired one grabbing his ring finger, the fair-haired one grabbing his thumb.  He wears no gloves and the skin to skin contact almost crumples him to his knees.  He's unable to breathe, staring blindly at the babies, looking from one to the other.  The babies quiet, staring at him again, eyes wide.

His children.

These are his children.

Not Bail Organa's.

Impulsively, he picks them up.  First the fair-haired one, then the dark one.  Luke, and then Leia.  He can tell now, which one is which.  His son.  And his daughter.  He cuddles them close, trying to make sure he doesn't drop them, but also not holding them too tightly.  How the hell do people do this?  They're these amorphous little blobs of humanity with barely enough muscle control to hold up their heads.  How can Padmé and Bail just leave them in here like this?  Artoo at least should be guarding them.  Any madman could just walk in here and hurt them.

Leia reaches out and her tiny hand lands on his chin.  He turns and looks at her, their faces a breath apart.  She stares up at him with perfect trust.  Skywalkers. There are two more Skywalkers in the galaxy.  He isn't the only one.  He isn't alone.  His blood – his mother's blood – flows in their veins.  He moves his head and places a kiss to the center of her little palm.  Leia squawks in delight, kicking her feet madly and laughing.  He tries to shush her, but soon Luke is doing it too.  He hears someone stirring in the next room and has barely enough time to settle the twins back in the crib and sink into the shadows near the door before Padmé walks into the room.

Now, he can't help but notice how terrible she looks.  She is painfully thin.  No, gaunt.  The dark hollows under her eyes disturb him greatly.  Apparently her blissful married life with Bail is a sham.  She doesn't look blissful.  She looks like she's barely hanging on.

She walks to the crib and leans over the side, clicking her tongue at the babies.  "Hello," she coos brightly, smiling at them.  She picks up Leia first and puts her in a little robotic bouncing chair which Leia apparently likes because she immediately quiets.  Then Padmé returns for Luke, lifting him out of the crib and cradling him close.  She presses a gentle kiss to he top of his head and breathes deeply.  "My little sky walker," she whispers.

Sniffling, she crosses the room to take a seat in a rocking chair.  He can see the tear tracks glinting on her cheeks.  Silently, he backs out of the room and then flees the apartment as quickly as possible.

[End Section]

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