Padme rested both of her packed suitcases in the living room, busily preparing herself for the big trip to Naboo to see her family. Anakin watched. Brooding as she mulled about as though she had not a care in the world. Other than the fact that her mother died, she didn't even think about the fact that she was leaving him!
Padme returned to the living room, Anakin sitting on the sofa, fist pressed into his cheek as she sat two small suitcases beside her own.
He sat up, attentively. She turned, catching his stare.
"What are you doing with those?" he asked.
Padme looked at the babies' suitcases. "What do you mean?"
"They're not going," he replied, a firm set to his jaw.
"Anakin-" she said, raising her voice in protest.
"You want to go running off to Naboo like you haven't a care in the world then be my guest. But the babies stay."
"But you said-"
"I said YOU can go to your father's, I said nothing about the children. You can either stay with them, or abandon them," he added accusingly. "But I'll have you know, I find it abhorrent that you'd leave your children to fill your own selfish needs."
He watched as a look of horror and sadness spread across her face.
"Anakin...how could you say something like that to me?"
He shrugged. It was the truth as far as he was concerned.
"I can't leave the children behind."
"Then you'll stay."
He rose, reaching for the suitcases. "Anakin, have you forgotten that my mother has died? Just like yours? That you kept me from her and now you do something like this?"
"Why would you bring that up?" he snapped. "You already said you forgive me."
"If I'm forced to choose between my family and our children then I take my forgiveness back."
She hated the game they were playing, but it needed to be done.
Anakin smacked his lips, resigning back to his chair again. "Fine." Now what if she moved away? he thought. She'd have the children too.
Padme sat on his lap, her hands running through his curly locks. "Don't worry my love. We won't be away from you long."
He pulled her to him and kissed her lips. Padme smiled. But there was a hollowness behind it.
Padme could barely contain her excitement at being on Naboo again. But it was a strained excitement. One of nervousness, filled with both good and now, bitter memories. She spent her entire childhood here. She fell in love with Anakin here too. Something she wouldn't regret, for she wouldn't have her beautiful children were it not for the flawed but good man she was with.
Padme left the children with Colla and raced toward the older grey haired gentleman who stood outside of a beautiful stately house. It was Ruwee, Padme's father. Behind him, Sola and her two children, much older than they were last Padme saw them, stood behind the old man.
He opened his arms, pulling his beautiful daughter into an embrace.
"Daddy!" Padme cried, suddenly young again.
He searched his daughter's saddened eyes, then pulled her back into the embrace, hugging her even tighter.
"I didn't know," she wept. "I didn't know about mother..."
"Come inside," he whispered, looking over her shoulder at the ship.
Padme turned, motioning Colla and the two droids closer. The nurse approached, both babies in hand. Padme took Leia from her arms, coddling the child as the group walked inside.
Ruwee led them to the family room, and everyone gathered there, gazing at Padme's beautiful babies, chattering sadly but comfortingly amongst each other.
Colla stood back, pensive and taking mental notes per her master's instructions.
"Look at them," Ruwee said.
Padme held both babies now, both so plump and fat, they nearly looked too big for her to carry. She gazed at their faces. "They look like their father," she observed.
Ruwee shook his head, a grim set to his mouth. "I don't see it. I see compassion and love in their eyes."
Padme wondered what her father meant by that.
"Let's take a walk," Ruwee finished.
Padme turned, handing the babies to Colla, who dawdled much too close for her comfort. In that, she took some solace in leaving the rest of the group. Sola drew close to her twin niece and nephew, taking comfort in their faces as her sister and father trailed off.
They walked from the house toward the lake. Both were quiet at first and Padme knew her father was thinking of a tactful way of saying whatever it was he needed to say.
"I want you home."
"He's drunk with power. Everyone knows."
"He means well. He only wants what's best for the Republic."
"So he says. People are afraid," Ruwee said.
"I trust Anakin to do the right thing. There's good in him."
"Was there good in him at the Jedi temple? The night of the massacre?"
They stood beside the sparkling water, Ruwee turned his daughter so that she faced him. He held her at arms length, his eyes imploring her own.
"You're so...sad. What is he doing to you?"
"Just come home. Leave him."
Ruwee didn't miss the unmistakable look of fear in her eyes. It only made him madder.
"He kept you away from your mother. You know, she died with a broken heart. She was so worried about you, after what he'd done."
"Daddy! He didn't mean to hurt me. He was wrong, in not giving me the letters. But he was afraid because you and mum told him you were going to take me away from him. You know Anakin as well as I do, you've always got on, why are you saying these things?"
"We told him we were coming to collect you after he nearly killed you. Padme, we loved Anakin as though he were our son. But the things we've heard...the changes in the Republic... the fear. What he's done to you... I want my daughter here. Where she will be safe."
"Anakin would never have it."
"You speak as though you have no mind of your own. As though you have no say so in what you do with your life. This is not the Padme Naberrie I know."
Hearing Ruwee say it, made the reality of her situation sting twice as hard. "Daddy, please. I've accepted the choices I've made. I need you to stand by me. The children need the father, I need him. I'll work with Anakin to make sure he's fair."
She could tell Ruwee hadn't believed a word of what she said. The truth was, he had no reason to. She couldn't believe them either. Anakin wouldn't let her near the Senate Rotunda.
"Enough about Anakin. I'll use this opportunity to spend as much time with my grandchildren as possible. But remember, your bedroom is just as you left it-"
Padme opened her mouth to speak but he silenced her with a wave of his hand. "And the guest room is big enough for two children. That said, I'll speak nothing of it again."
Padme nodded. They walked toward the house again, unaware of the gathering of storm troopers on the other side of the lake, sound amplification and recording devices in hand.
Ruwee held the door for Padme and both joined the others in the family room. Sola beamed at her sister as she bounced Luke around in her arms.
"He's wonderful! So friendly. But Leia, bless her heart, misses her mother."
Padme smiled, walking toward Colla to take Leia into her arms.
"She has her father's temperment," Ruwee said, unable to resist. The room fell quiet for a moment.
"How long was mum sick?" Padme asked Sola.
"It was coming for a while. We all knew, but didn't say anything. You were carrying Luke and Leia at the time and we didn't want to upset you."
Padme pressed Leia over her shoulder and walked toward a nearby window, gazing out at a declining sun.
It was an idyllic Naboo scene. Green grass, white and yellow Marsh Flowers blowing in the breeze. Leia crawling around in stalks taller than herself, and Ruwee resting comfortably on a tree swing, rocking a giggling Luke as Sola blew bubbles in his face. It was a scene Anakin would have dreamed of being a part of. And though he promised his wife he'd stay away, he just couldn't. He watched from afar, spying them from a field dressed in a darkened cloak, a goggle mask and set of binoculars covering his eyes.
Padme seemed happy here. Happier than he had seen her in months. At least, since his takeover of the Republic. The children seemed happier too. Happy because their mother was happy.
Ocassionally, Ruwee would look at his daughter, then back at the children again, a look of longing in his eyes. It was clear he wanted them to stay.
Padme fell in the grass beside Leia, then grabbed her, holding her up as if to the sun. The girl kicked and squirmed, a line of drool snapping up and down from her open mouth toward Padme's face until she swung her out of the way, laughing.
Anakin decided he had enough of this madness. They had been there two weeks. They should be at home. With him. And what a surprise he had in store. A house on the countryside with a huge garden. The house of course was on Coruscant, which was mostly city planet. But there were farms and wooded areas where food was grown. And he'd found a lovely house for the wife and kids in one of the lovelier areas. Something to give Padme pause should she decide she wanted to stay home with her father.
Anakin slunk off, heading toward his ship. The platform opened and he climbed inside, throwing his cloak and goggle mask off to one of his storm troopers.
"Take us to Ruwee Naberrie's house. And be on guard if there's any trouble. But hold your fire," he said, a firm set to his clenched jaw.
The ship lifted. It was an Imperial ship, used for battling purposes. Anakin chose to arrive in this ship, if only to further intimidate Ruwee, without directly doing so.
The Imperial Class ship landed some yards away from the house, though closer to the lake. The wind from its chopper swung like sharpened knives, blowing the blades of grass and causing a stir in the lake water.
The platform opened and Anakin walked out, armed troops flanking his sides, lightsaber hanging from his utility belt.
The commotion was enough to cause the Naberries to cease in their laughter, Padme pulling Leia close to her body, the smile falling away from her lips as Anakin and the troops descended upon the house. Sola and Ruwee exchanged nervous looks.
"Wait here," Ruwee said, raising his hand.
"Padme. Your father speaking. Stay here."
Ruwee passed a babbling Luke off to Sola and marched toward the house. He had a few choice words in store for the young man who had married and sired children with his daughter. But facing the imposing strapping young fellow changed Ruwee's disposition entirely as he met them in front of the house. Those "choice" words quickly turned into "carefully chosen" words.
"You're here for Padme son? So soon? We're having a good time. You're welcome to join us."
Anakin folded arms across his massive chest. "It's time for Padme to come home."
"After only two weeks? Surely you can part with her for just a little longer."
He was being as diplomatic as he could.
"Tell Padme to come inside," was Anakin's reply.
Ruwee shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "Now listen, son. I know you love Padme. I love her too, she's my daughter."
"But she's my wife."
"I'm not gonna fight with you," Ruwee said.
At this, Anakin smiled. He looked to Colla who had just come into the room. "Pack the children's clothing," he ordered.
Ruwee sighed. "You hurt my daughter, I'll make sure you bloody pay," he warned.
"Sure you will, old man."
The door to the house opened again. Padme, Sola, the children, and a battalion of armed troopers walked in. Padme looked from Ruwee to Anakin nervously. She walked toward her husband, planting a kiss on his cheek.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"You're coming home."
Padme had no wish to argue in front of her family. "Right, I think two weeks was the agreed upon time." She looked into her father's saddened eyes. "Don't worry Daddy, we'll be back soon. In fact, you'll come and visit us, right?"
She looked to Anakin again.
"Of course," Anakin replied. "Ruwee is welcome to come see you any time he wishes. As well as Sola and the kids."
Colla walked out, the children's luggage in hand.
At least stay and have dinner with us? We have enough to feed an army," she said, looking at the troops. "Urr, right Dad?" Sola asked.
"We have to go, now," Anakin pressed.
Colla left the kitchen again and returned with Padme's luggage as well. Sola passed Luke to Anakin, who looked at the child's face and smiled. Sola then gave Leia to her sister.
Padme walked to their father and kissed his cheek. Ruwee drew his arms around her, if only to hug her just a bit longer. Seeing this, Anakin bristled.
"Padme," he called, firmly. He grabbed her by the elbow, drawing her away and pulling her toward the door. With Padme turned to her family, a lingering look in her eyes before he drew her away from the house completely.
They marched toward the lake, Luke and Leia in their arms, Storm troopers surrounding them.
After boarding Anakin Imperial Destroyer that would carry them to Coruscant, they sat in silence, Padme gazed out of the window at the stars. Her husband however, was happy again. Happy to be united with his family. Things were as they should be.
He looked to Padme, a smile on his lips. "I have a surprise for you," he whispered.
Padme turned to regard him with sullen eyes. "More jewelry?" she asked in a bored voice.
Anakin felt himself frowning. "Something he better," he answered tersely.
He let his hand slide to cover hers and Padme tensed.
"I'm sorry you couldn't stay with your father," he volunteered. "I was going insane without you."
As though that made it better.
"What's the matter, Padme? You don't love me anymore?" he asked.
"I'll always love my Annie," she answered. But you are someone entirely different, she thought.
He leaned over his seat and kissed her lips. Padme returned the gesture, half-heartedly.They sat in silence a while longer.
Soon they were burning through Coruscant's heated atmosphere, the ship declining in an area not previously visited by the family before.
"Anakin? Where are we going?" Padme asked. Why were they landing west of the Rotunda?
"You'll see," he replied.
Soon, the ship landed in a vacant field. This field wasn't as lush or green as any on Naboo, but very pretty. Further off, was a beautiful home, one befitting an emperor.
Padme climbed from the Imperial Destroyer, staring off at the house. "Where are we?"
Anakin took her by the hand. "Come with me," he said.
Padme and Anakin walked across the field, then over a bridge, which had been built over a glistening stream. They walked a narrow path to the house. Anakin watched a small speeder fly over head with the children to land closer than where they were. He could have let Padme out of the Destroyer much closer, but he wanted to walk hand in hand with her, while giving her the chance to see the land. All of which, was theirs.
Padme gave him a questioning look as he pushed the door to the house opened.
"Welcome home," he said.
Padme spun around, taking the lavish estate in. "It's beautiful," she said. "You mean, it's ours?"
"I bought it. I figured, the kids would need a bigger place to live."
Padme rushed Anakin, wrapping her arms around his neck. This was her Annie, considerate, sweet Annie, the man she loved. "Thank you, I'm sure we'll be very happy here," she replied.
Anakin gave a great sigh. One of relief.
"I gave it a lot of thought. Luke's room is decorated with purple colors. Leia's is in yellow. I thought she'd like the color yellow. We even have a room for the nanny."
He gave her a mischievous grin. "Would you like to see our bedroom?"
With a turn, he signaled one of the servants. A new one, Padme had not yet met. "Take the others around. Show Colla the children's bedroom, as well as her own and tell them to get settled. We'll be busy. For a while."
He pulled Padme by the arm up two flight of stairs.
The children had been put to rest. Sleeping away in their new bedrooms. Sometime during the night, Colla had awakened to shift them around. For Luke was lonely without his sister Leia. So she moved him to her crib where they slept comfortably. She wondered about the boy... this strange connection he had with his sibling, beyond their being twins. It was almost as though he sensed when something was wrong. And there was distress when he was too far away. He was like his father, Colla thought.
In a room nearby, the parents of the two children laid in bed. Anakin rested on his back, Padme sprawled across his naked chest, curling her fingers through his long hair.
"I don't think you're father likes me too much."
"Daddy loves you! You're like a son to him. Although... he's a little disappointed."
"Seems everyone is these days. You disappointed, too?"
Padme looked down at his bare sweat glistened chest. "A little," she answered. "I don't particularly agree with your policies. They seem to go against everything I worked so hard for."
Anakin waved a hand. "No politics," he said, disgust showing in his face.
Anakin pulled Padme from the soft cushioned mattress to lay on top of him. She sat up, legs on each side of his body, looking down at his hardened face. He pulled her toward him, kissing her lips.
"Call me daddy," Anakin drawled.
Padme gave him a surprised look. "Whatever for?"
"I don't know. I like hearing you say it."
"My father's name is Ruwee Naberrie. You're not my daddy," she whispered teasingly, her lips a breath away from his mouth.
Anakin's eyes rolled to the top of his head. "Say it again." He slapped her back side.
"Ow! Anakin, that hurt."
And this time, he squeezed.
"Have you taken leave of your senses? Absolutely not," she replied.
He squeezed with one hand and slapped with the other.
"Ow!" Padme cried. "Anakin, you are absolutely horrible," she said with mock anger.
She sat up again, and pressed a hand into a bruise covering his rib. "More bruises," she noted.
"What do you expect. I spend most of my time-"
"No, no... I wouldn't say that. In war, death happens."
He groaned as Padme pressed her weight into his battered body. "That feels good. That feels better."
"I feel so cut off from everything. Daddy says, people are afraid of you."
Anakin gave her a look of surprise. "Really?"
"Yes, he wouldn't lie."
"I don't think he would either. I suppose, if people fear me then that is a good thing."
"How is it good? There will always be unrest."
"This... sounds suspiciously like Senator Amidala talk. I don't like Senator Amidala. But I'm in love Padme Naberrie Skywalker. When Senator Amidala opens her trap, I want to punch her in it."
"It's true. But I love Padme Naberrie Skywalker more than anything or anyone in the world. Our babies too."
"I should hope you would never punch Senator Amidala in her mouth, you brute." Padme punched him in the chest and tweaked his nipples. Anakin groaned in mock pain.
"No, a brute would gather his storm troopers, take Senator Amidala out on the range and blast her to little bits and pieces."
"Oh Annie, don't talk like that. You scare me." Padme replied, suddenly very serious. She gazed at his face for a few seconds, and he broke into laughter. She realized he was only teasing her.
"You are a brute," she said, punching him again.
Obi Wan Kenobi waited in the room of a Thousand Fountains, a gathering of Padawan Learners around him. This was the order these days. A daycare! And now he needed someone to care for the children in a more... maternal way. Someone who might schedule feedings, bedtimes, all those things that were not directly associated with training future Jedi. He knew nothing about children and doubted he ever would. He was looking to hire a chambermother.
Obi Wan paced the room. Children ran circles about him, some cried and slobbered over baby bottles. The droid servants were overwhelmed, unable to sufficiently care for small children. At least, for extended periods of time. The children had so many different needs. Some unfortunately, unable to control their force powers might even dismantle the poor bots.
Suddenly, a knock on the door brought him from his thoughts. He turned, seeing Ruwee Naberrie at the door.
"Mr. Naberrie, pleasure to see you," Obi Wan said, a gentle smile on his face. "It's been a long time."
"Yes, very long to be sure," the man replied. "I apologize for having arrived so unexpectantly."
"It's fine. I sense that whatever it is that brought you here must be of grave importance."
"It's your former pupil. Anakin Skywalker."
"You mean the new Emperor?"
"That's only the tip of the iceberg as far as I'm concerned. I'm worried about my daughter Padme."
"Yes? Has Anakin done something?"
"He's... possessive. Doesn't let her out of his sight. We barely see her, and when we do, he's hurrying her off. I'm terribly worried about her. And was wondering if you might have a word with him."
"I do still have some influence over him. Although, I'm not sure how far that influence goes when it comes to his family."
"I hear he pays a great deal of respect to you. I would love if you could... talk him down just a bit. I'd love to spend more time wtih my grandchildren."
Obi Wan laid a hand on Ruwee's shoulder. "I'll be sure to do that," he said. "You have my word."
He followed Ruwee to the door. The old man brushed against a handsome young woman on his way out, barely able to tear his eyes away from her stunning face as she walked in.
Obi Wan gave her a look of surprise.
"Dorme!" he exclaimed. "What can I do for you? Although, I have an appointment, and not much time to talk."
He remembered the trouble she had caused Anakin, and was in no rush to speak with her. His interview was just the excuse he needed to get out of it.
"Oh, Master Kenobi. I'm here about the caretaker position."
Obi Wan rubbed his beard. "Dorme... I'm afraid this interview is impossible."
A look of hurt crept into Dorme's eyes. "But why, your grace? Have I done something wrong?"
"Anakin told me about your activities. And I'm not sure I can trust someone like you to take the job. I'm sorry if this is hurtful to you."
Dorme dropped her bag on a nearby chair, a look of worry in her eyes. "Oh please, your grace. I did terrible things to Master Skywalker and Senator Amidala. But I've learned from my mistakes. I've changed. You remember my work ethic. When I was employed by the Senator. I was her most loyal Handmaiden," she said with a proud lift of her chin. "But I'm afraid, matters of the heart got in the way. But it will never happen again, I beg you for a chance."
"I'm concerned because... our funds are tied into the Republic. And you are aware that Anakin is Emperor. I wouldn't want you to use this as an excuse to bother them again."
"I daresay, I have no interest in the Skywalkers. I'm too ashamed to face them! Senator Amidala woke me right and proper! I owe her many apologies but have not been able to see them. Nor will I try. I have no interest in Master Skywalker. My affections were misplaced."
Obi Wan sensed Dorme's sincerity. And she was Padme's former and loyal handmaiden. And who didn't deserve a second chance? Anakin had done far more damage than she and he had been given a reprieve.
"Fine. I will give you a chance. You will be chambermother to the children. However, you are on a standard two month probation. If all is well, I will hire you on permanently."
Dorme could not hide her gratitude and rushed into a stunned Obi Wan Kenobi's arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck, then realizing her error, she broke free, gasping embarrassingly.
"Sorry, your grace. I was so excited. I will be sure not to engage in any other impropriety hence forth! The children will love me- I mean, they're not allowed to love, but, they will like me a great deal."
"Well, some of our rules are now a bit more flexible. They're allowed to love whomever they want, and I'm sure they'll be quite fond of you."
She gave him a knowing look. "I'm quite sure I'll be fond of them too."