Liz (amidala_thrace) wrote,
Liz
amidala_thrace

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To Ignite the Stars: Chapter 5 -- A Web of Secrets

Title: A Web of Secrets
Fandom: Star Wars
Characters: Padmé, Anakin, Obi-Wan
Word Count: 3,420
Rating: G
Summary: Padmé and Anakin are transported to Naboo, where Padmé speaks with Queen Jamillia.
Author's Notes: First off, my apologies for not posting this sooner, I know a lot of you were eagerly anticipating the next chapter. I had intended to write and post Chapter 5 last week, but due to various real life circumstances (my aunt visiting, me putting in a lot of overtime at work, and a couple of personal issues that had to be dealt with) I unfortunately wasn't able to get it up until now. I'll try my utmost to be more prompt with Chapter 6, which I've already started working on. This one isn't as spicy as the last chapter, it's mostly Padmé and her thoughts with a bit of immature!Anakin sprinkled in for good - or is it bad? - measure. I'm already itching to write the scene that takes place right after Geonosis, but I guess my muse and I will just have to be patient. ^_^



PERSONAL RECORD: PADME AMIDALA
I can’t feel angry anymore. I certainly want to, but I can’t. All the fight has gone out of me, and much as I try to muster an annoyed glance, much as I try to conjure up a tirade about how I don’t wish to leave the capital, somehow I find myself unable to. I’ve discovered a strange kind of inner peace, almost as though a warm, calming blanket has been wrapped around me.

At first I thought it had something to do with going home, and the happiness that always results from that, for me. But then I realized that although that’s certainly part of it, it doesn’t account for everything. I feel … as though a great weight has suddenly been lifted from my shoulders. Like there is some part of my brain that was previously filled with worry and a barely-disguised nervousness has been emptied, and can now be refilled with other concerns. I’m smiling more, laughing more, joking more. To me the change is quite remarkable, though I’m not sure if others have noticed yet.

I do hope Obi-Wan reads my letter. I told him that he didn’t need to if he didn’t want to, but I want his curiosity to get the better of him. I’ve been wanting to say so much of what I said in that letter for years, but of course there was no way I could without coming into direct contact with him. My parents and handmaidens took care of that. Likely the only reason I was able to sit down and write it, and then deliver it, is because Dormé was hired about a year ago and knows nothing of my past restrictions. Captain Typho does, but I asked Dormé to speak with him and assure him that the letter was only friendly and contained nothing questionable. Dishonest, perhaps, but I needed to write that letter. Sometimes, one should not wait to say certain things.

And then, when we hugged … I could have stayed in Obi-Wan’s arms forever. I’m sure that chronologically speaking the hug only lasted a moment, but it felt so much longer and shorter at the same time. He is so warm, and safe, and comforting. Yes, perhaps I shouldn’t have done it, and my parents will be upset should they find out, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Obi-Wan didn’t resist me, didn’t pull away – both actions he could have taken if I alarmed him. Does that mean something? Or does he just think I’m still grieving for Cordé, and is trying to be a good friend? I AM still grieving for Cordé, certainly, but I didn’t hug Obi-Wan because of that. I hugged him because … because it seemed like the right thing to do, and because I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to feel his arms around me. I can’t explain it; it was like some invisible hand pushing us towards each other. Perhaps it was the Force. I’m not sure. But it was right. I can feel it.

Oh, listen to me, babbling on as though I’m a schoolgirl with a crush. I really am being quite ridiculous about this whole thing. There’s nothing at all to be gained by idle speculation, particularly on this subject. I should just leave it alone, and let matters fall where they might.

We entered hyperspace awhile ago, this wretched transport creaking and rattling all the while. Anakin and I are seated in the central gathering room, using a couple of crates as chairs and a larger box as a table between us. He made a cursory security check, found no threats, sat down and promptly fell asleep. I can’t really blame him, though, he and Obi-Wan can’t have had much sleep after the second assassination attempt last night. I could talk to R2D2, I suppose, but there isn’t really much fun in conversing with a droid. Not that I need to talk to anyone, of course. I have plenty of small tasks to occupy my time after I finish this entry in my personal record.

I can’t think of much else to say at the moment, and it is nearly time for lunch, so I think I will end off now.


He was still such a child when he slept. His lips puckered slightly, soft murmurs escaped his lips, his eyes moved rapidly under his eyelids. Anakin twisted on the spot, hands trembling and grasping as though for something invisible. Padmé remembered coming upon him in a similar pose when she was fourteen, when she had come to wake him on the morning of the podrace. He told her then that he’d been dreaming of her, that she had been leading a huge army into battle. Padmé had dismissed it as the overactive imagination of a child, unable to foresee that she would indeed soon be leading an army into battle – her people, and the Gungans, to take back Naboo from the Trade Federation.

Padmé smiled at the thought, watching him now. He had grown so much physically, but mentally he was still very much a child who needed to be cared for. Sadly, he didn’t seem to get along all that well with Obi-Wan, who should have been like a father to him but seemed more like a rival to her outsider’s glance. If only someone could fill that parental void for Anakin, if only the Jedi could have allowed him to contact his mother, if only the Code were more flexible on such matters … so many if only’s.

She was interrupted in her thoughts by R2D2’s expectant beep. Padmé looked over to see him holding two bowls of mush and two pieces of bread for their meager lunch. Suppressing a small sigh, she said, “Thank you, Artoo,” and reached over to prod Anakin awake.

“No, Mom, no!” he blurted, a sudden shiver coursing through him. Beneath the table, his feet scuffed the floor as though he was running from something.

“Anakin!” Padmé said more sharply, shaking his shoulder lightly.

His eyes flicked open, and he stared around in confusion. “What?”

She took a bite of the bread Artoo handed her; it was stale and hard, but edible. “You seemed to be having a nightmare.”

Anakin didn’t respond, choosing to rub the sleep from his eyes and squint vaguely towards her. Padmé took one of the bowls of mush and pushed it across the table. “Are you hungry? It’s about lunchtime now. We went to hyperspace awhile ago.”

He blinked, seeming to realize that it would be impolite to look at her any longer, and started in on his mush. “Was I asleep long?”

“You had a good nap,” Padmé told him with a reassuring smile.

They ate in silence for a few moments before Anakin spoke again. “I’ve thought about Naboo every day since I left,” he said, as though continuing a conversation they had already started. “It’s by far the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.”

“It may not be as you remember it,” she replied gently. “Time changes perception.” Does it ever. Especially when it comes to matters of friendship, and love.

“Sometimes it does,” Anakin said, lifting his gaze to her once more. “Sometimes for the better.”

Padmé swallowed hard. There it was again, that intense, fiery look he seemed to reserve especially for her. How could she make him understand that her heart lay elsewhere, that what he was suggesting could never be? Not only for the evident reason, that she was a Senator and he a Jedi, but because of Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan, and her feelings for him, complicated everything. Her love made it impossible for her to look at another man without judging him against Obi-Wan, and their years of separation had done nothing to discourage this. But he too was a Jedi, and as unattainable as Anakin if not more …

“It must be difficult having sworn your life to the Jedi,” Padmé said suddenly. “Not being able to visit the places you like, or do the things you like.”

Anakin turned it immediately back on her. “Or be with the people that I love.”

“Are you allowed to love?” she blurted. “I thought that was forbidden for a Jedi.”

“Attachment is forbidden,” Anakin recited, “possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is central to a Jedi’s life. So you might say that we are encouraged to love.”

How can he twist the teachings of the Order like that? Padmé wondered. Surely that’s not how they’re meant to be interpreted. Out loud she could only shake her head and murmur, “You’ve changed so much.”

“You haven’t changed a bit,” Anakin countered. “You’re exactly the way I remember you in my dreams.”

He dreams about me? She found herself involuntarily withdrawing, as though in fright. But why was she frightened? Padmé had no answer. She supposed she simply found it – strange – that even though friendship was all she shared with Anakin, he still dreamed about her. She certainly entertained no similar notions about him. Well, all right, that was a lie, she did feel affection and something that might have been love, but it was more … a desire to take care of him, to nurture him, to comfort him, to ensure he didn’t come to any harm. A parental love, as opposed to the romantic, erotic love she felt for Obi-Wan.

Padmé blushed at that last thought, and quickly turned her attention back to her food.

“Padmé? Can I ask you something?” said Anakin hesitantly.

“Of course, what is it?”

“Well – when we were leaving Coruscant, at the docks, you gave Obi-Wan a letter, and then – then you hugged him,” Anakin blurted in a rush. “Is, well, you know, something going on? I don’t want to pry, and it’s obviously not my place to ask such questions, but … I couldn’t help but notice,” he finished lamely.

Padmé’s flush deepened, and she found herself unable to look him in the eye. “Ani – Anakin – that’s a very personal question,” she managed.

“Is it? I didn’t realize your relationship was quite that serious.” He seemed bolder now, braver.

“It’s not!” Padmé burst out. A little too quickly, she realized. “Well, it is. But it’s a friendship, Anakin. Any friendship is going to be personal. We hadn’t seen each other for a long time, and we’re glad to be getting reacquainted. That’s all.”

“Why did you stop writing to him?”

Padmé’s eyebrows rose nearly into her hair. “Excuse me?”

“You stopped writing to Obi-Wan two years ago, and it nearly made him have a breakdown,” Anakin explained. “The Council was really worried about him, they sent him to a Healer and made him meditate extra and eventually he came out of it, but for awhile there … we weren’t sure. He wouldn’t even talk to me. So I just wondered – even if it isn’t my place to ask, which I know it isn’t – why you stopped writing to him.”

There was an uncomfortable pause.

“Anakin, I – I can’t talk about that with you. I’m sorry,” Padmé said finally. “It’s something very private, I was young and stupid, and I did things that only those who are young and stupid do. I’m sure you’ve done things in your life that you regret. This was no different. I’m not proud of the fact that I stopped writing to him. But at that time … I had no other choice.” She sighed bitterly. “I wanted to explain to Obi-Wan why I stopped writing to him. That’s what I did in the letter. The rest, I’m afraid, is between him and me, and I beg you not to ask me to discuss it.”

“Of course,” Anakin said, the formality in her tone prompting him to develop the same amount of distance.

Padmé sighed as she returned to her mush. Just as I let go of one secret, another takes its place, she thought. My life is a web of secrets.

***

The marble columns and statues were just as she remembered them. Tall and beautiful, they stood watch over the courtyard outside the palace. Here and there, an old patch shaped like a blaster scorch served as a reminder that this place, peaceful as it seemed, had nonetheless seen war. Everything was the same – the doors, the marbled hallways, the way the palace workers greeted her with smiles and inquiries after her well-being, the soft voice of the handmaiden telling her to wait outside the throne room a moment for Queen Jamillia to be ready.

But for Padmé, everything had changed.

She felt vulnerable and exposed, much as she had done on the transport to the docks at Coruscant. She was remembering something her mother had said, just after her sister Sola had announced her engagement to Darred, a man she had met at the park two years previous. “When a woman is in love, everyone can see it,” Jobal had told Padmé. “She holds herself differently, she is more cheerful, there’s a certain sparkle in her eyes. She talks only of happy things. I’m not at all surprised your sister is to marry; I have known it for months. Even before she did.”

Padmé hoped love was not really that evident. But perhaps it was. She remembered being happier and more cheerful after she realized what she felt for Obi-Wan. Had that been how her mother found out? Maybe it wasn’t as she had previously suspected, that a jealous friend had gone running to her parents in order to hurt her. Maybe her mother had just … seen it, the way she did with Sola. And if that was the case –

“M’lady?” Sio Bibble had appeared in the hallway where they waited outside the throne room. “Such a pleasure to see you again, we were very concerned after hearing of the attempts on your life.”

Padmé shook his proffered hand. “Thankfully I find myself in good health at the present time,” she assured him, wishing she knew how to ease the blush from her cheeks. “I bring news from the capital that I believe will interest Her Highness.”

“Yes, yes, very well, please enter,” Bibble said, stepping aside to allow her and Anakin access. They bowed to Queen Jamillia, who acknowledged them with a curt nod and waved them to some empty chairs to the right of the throne.

Padmé sank down onto her seat, grateful to be focusing on protocol for the moment. At least this was one area where she could feel completely comfortable and sure of herself. Emotions did not, could not, touch Padmé Amidala in the political arena. She had learned long ago never to let them interfere.

“We’ve been worried about you, Padmé,” Queen Jamillia started, echoing Sio Bibble’s earlier statements. “When the reports from the capital reached us, we feared the worst.”

“Thank you, Your Highness,” Padmé replied. “I only wish I could have served you better by staying on Coruscant for the vote.”

“Supreme Chancellor Palpatine explained it all,” Bibble assured her. “Returning home was the only real choice you could have made.”

Padmé nodded. Outwardly, her face remained blank and impassive, but she knew that political arena or not, it would be a long while before she could look upon her forced departure with anything but frustration and regret.

“How many systems have joined Count Dooku and the Separatists?” asked the Queen. She usually preferred to get straight to the point of any discussion.

“Thousands,” said Padmé. “And more are leaving the Republic every day. If the Senate votes to create an army I’m sure it’s going to push us into a civil war.”

“Unthinkable!” Bibble exclaimed. “There hasn’t been a full-scale war since the formation of the Republic!”

Jamillia looked thoughtful. “Do you see any way, through negotiations, to bring the Separatists back into the Republic?”

“Not if they feel threatened,” Padmé replied. “The Separatists don’t have an army, but if they are provoked, they will move to defend themselves. I’m sure of that. And with no time or money to build an army, my guess is they’ll turn to the Commerce Guild or the Trade Federation for help.” She realized she felt complete confidence in her words, and that it showed in her tone. Intuition has always served me so well. Now why can’t I apply it to Obi-Wan and my feelings for him? And now, again, I’m thinking of him when I should be focusing on my duties. Stop it, Padmé! Concentrate!

“The armies of commerce,” Jamillia muttered, all but rolling her eyes. One would be hard-pressed to find a native Nubian with any sympathy for the Trade Federation and its ilk, after what had occurred ten years ago. Nearly everyone shared the same level of distaste. “Why has nothing been done in the Senate to restrain them?”

“I’m afraid that, despite the Chancellor’s best efforts, there are still many bureaucrats, judges and even Senators on the payrolls of the guilds,” Padmé said gently.

“Then it is true that the guilds have moved closer to the Separatists, as we suspected,” the Queen sighed.

“It’s outrageous,” said Bibble angrily, “that after all those hearings and four trials in the Supreme Court, Nute Gunray is still the Viceroy of the Trade Federation! Do those money-mongers control everything?

“Remember, Counselor, the Courts were able to reduce the Trade Federation’s armies,” Jamillia countered. “That’s a move in the right direction.”

Padmé bit her lip, knowing it was her duty to report matters completely. “There are rumours, Your Highness, that the Federation’s army was not reduced as they were ordered,” she admitted.

“The Jedi have not been allowed to investigate,” Anakin spoke up from his position behind Padmé. “It would be too dangerous for the economy, we were told.”

Queen Jamillia rose from her throne and shook her head lightly. “We must keep our faith in the Republic,” she insisted. “The day we stop believing democracy can work is the day we lose it.”

Padmé stood with her, nodding in agreement. “Let us pray that day never comes.”

“In the meantime, we must consider your own safety,” Jamillia said, and curtly nodded towards her handmaidens and the security officers dotting the room. Without a word, they stood and left, understanding that this was a private matter that could not be discussed in their presence.

“What is your suggestion, Master Jedi?” Bibble asked.

Oh please, don’t inflate Anakin’s ego even more than it is already, Padmé thought tiredly. Quickly she said, “Oh, Anakin’s not a Jedi yet. He’s still a Padawan learner. But I was thinking –”

“Hold on a minute!” Anakin blurted, but she was not to be deterred.

“Excuse me.” Padmé directed an icy stare his way. “I was thinking I would stay in the Lake Country. There are some places up there that are very isolated.”

“Excuse me!” Anakin snapped. “I’m in charge of security here, m’lady!”

Padmé did not back down. “And this is my home. I know it very well; that is why we’re here. I think it would be wise for you to take advantage of my knowledge in this instance.” She did not bother to keep the sharpness from her voice as she spoke the words. If this mission Anakin had been given also turned out to be a lesson in humility and decorum for him, so much the better.

“Sorry, m’lady,” he murmured contritely, and she was sated, for the moment. She turned back to the Queen and her entourage.

“Perfect! It’s settled then,” Jamillia declared, then seemed to soften slightly. “Padmé, I had an audience with your father yesterday. I told him what was happening. He hopes you will visit himself and your mother before you leave. Your family’s very worried about you.”

Padmé bit her lip. She should have been able to guess this was coming. She did want to visit her family, to reassure them that she was indeed safe and to see Sola and her nieces again, but a part of her shied away from the idea of going back. Suppose they figured out she was still in love with Obi-Wan? Suppose they forced her to avoid him as they had done before? She didn’t think she could bear it this time. She was too in love, had too much desire in her since meeting him again to be stifled.

She left the palace with Anakin walking behind her, feeling very much out of control.

Tags: fic: to ignite the stars, g ratings, obi-wan/padmé, star wars
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