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To Ignite the Stars: Chapter 6 -- Family Matters

Title: Family Matters
Fandom: Star Wars
Characters: Padmé, Anakin, Sola, Jobal, Ruwee
Word Count: 3,812
Rating: G
Summary: Padmé and Anakin visit with Padmé's family, and Padmé is counseled by Sola.
Author's Notes: I've discovered something about myself as a writer, and that something is that I seem to write one hell of a lot better and faster if I put music on while I'm writing. Don't ask me why. Usually when I'm doing stuff that requires me to concentrate -- for instance, writing a paper or an article for school -- listening to music disturbs me, and because of that I've tended to avoid it while I write. But apparently I shouldn't, because I whipped off the rest of Chapter 6 on the strength of the Obidala playlist in about an hour. Ah well, live and learn I suppose. Insofar as this chapter goes, it's another good one even though I ran into a major case of writer's block in the middle of it. That's why you're getting it so late. But today I said to my To Ignite the Stars muse, "Okay buster, you're going to finish Chapter 6 or die trying!" and luckily it chose to finish Chapter 6 rather than kick the bucket completely. The conversation between Sola and Padmé ranks second only to After Geonosis as one of those scenes that I've been writing and rewriting in my head ever since this plotbunny hopped into my brain. In total it's probably gone through about twenty revisions, but only because I wanted to get it absolutely, completely right. Now I think it's time to lay down the pen and let you guys get your hands on this chapter. Off to start Chapter 7!

Ooh, but before I go I wanted to share with all of you this beautiful banner that Lynda, aka lealynnkenobi, made for me last night in honour of To Ignite the Stars. I actually wrote four pages of this chapter last night after seeing it. XD I now use it in my signature on the Forum and figured I'd give yet another shout-out/thanks to dear Ladybug for whipping it up for me. You are awesome, hun!

Finally, she felt as though she were coming home.

The palace had been home for a time, as had the courtyard in Theed. Even now Padmé kept an official residence there, used for entertaining fellow Senators and other dignitaries. But it didn’t matter how many friendly sculptures or which pieces of comfortable furniture she filled it with: it could never possess the true warmth of her family home, of the home where she had grown up with her parents and sister. So many memories resided in that house. Memories good and bad.

She remembered the day she’d been named to the Apprentice Legislators. Her father had picked her up and danced her around the room while her mother and Sola laughed. She remembered announcing her intentions to run in the election for ruler of Naboo after King Veruna had abdicated. Her parents’ faces had glowed with pride. Sola jokingly questioned Padmé’s ability to rule an entire planet when she couldn’t seem to keep her own room clean. And when she went home for the first time after the blockade, her mother came running out into the front garden and hugged her for a full five minutes. They both cried.

Then there had been The Fight. Padmé could not help but refer to it in capital letters, at least in her own mind. The day that her parents confronted her with the truth about her feelings for Obi-Wan. She couldn’t remember ever seeing her father so upset. “He – is – a – Jedi!” Ruwee had thundered, pacing the room while Padmé sat mutely on the couch. “Asking one of them to make a solid commitment to a relationship is like asking a sando aqua monster not to hunt colo-claw fish!”

“I’m not asking him for a commitment, nor do I plan to,” Padmé had quietly replied. “I am fully aware of the restrictions placed on the Jedi by their Code. It is possible to love someone from a distance, is it not? I see no harm in doing so.”

“But Padmé, dear, we had hoped you might consider one of the fine young men here on Naboo,” her mother then had offered. “Force knows we’ve done our best to introduce you to many eligible bachelors. Palo, and Christos, and Andrew –”

“All of whom you rejected,” Ruwee had muttered. “Darling, we only have your best interests at heart. We want you to choose someone who can not only love you, but also be your friend! Someone kind, someone gentle, someone who will respect your ambitions and your career and your life goals and most importantly, you. Your mother and I love you so very much, Padme. We don’t want to see you get hurt.”

“As far as your description of the ideal person goes, you have just characterized Obi-Wan perfectly,” Padmé had said coldly. “But I’m not even sure I want a family! My work in the Senate keeps me occupied quite nicely and I don’t think it would work all that well to juggle a husband and children along with that. Why can’t you understand that I’m grown up and should be allowed to make my own choices?”

Both her parents had gone still. “Not – not have a family?” Jobal whispered. “But Padmé – family life is the basic foundation of Naboo society! How could you not want a family? After your Senatorial term was up I always thought you would settle down, marry, have children … I can’t believe that’s changed for you!”

Ruwee was shaking his head. “I don’t like these ideas you’re getting, young lady,” he’d said. “To go against your mother and I is one thing, to go against everything this planet stands for is quite another. I won’t have it. I just won’t.”

It had been then that they shouted at one another. Padmé was outraged that her mother and father would not consider her wishes; Ruwee and Jobal, for their part, were concerned for their daughter’s welfare and what this newfound love and desire would mean. It had ended in tears, with Ruwee forbidding Padmé to write to Obi-Wan and Padmé running to her room and slamming her door. She hadn’t left that room for two days, but her parents did not relent.

Now, she wondered if they were in for a repeat of the incident that had taken place two years ago. It would be all the more difficult because of Anakin’s presence, but she was no less determined to defend her choices than she had been back then.

Anakin walked stolidly next to her, glancing all around him and trying to take everything in. It occurred to Padmé that this must be an acutely foreign environment for him – the idea of families playing unbidden and carefree in the street, with no thought of slavery or politics or war or Jedi, just childhood games and happiness. Anakin had told her often that his mother had worked very hard to create happiness for herself and her son on Tatooine, but Padmé held no delusions about how easy that would have been. Here, Anakin could see other children, children who had been given the gift of freedom before birth and had any number of options open to them. It must be so interesting for him, she thought.

They headed down a small alleyway and came out in a courtyard, dwellings of stone and wood surrounding them. “There’s my house!” Padmé cried, pointing and starting to run towards one of the larger places. Looking over her shoulder, she saw that Anakin wasn’t following for some reason. “What? Don’t tell me you’re shy!” she called.

Anakin started to answer, but Padmé’s attention was diverted by two young girls running down her front steps and throwing themselves into her arms. “Aunt Padmé! Aunt Padmé!” they shrieked excitedly.

Pure joy enveloped Padmé as she squeezed her nieces tight and kissed the tops of their heads. “Ryoo, Pooja!” she cried. “I’m so happy to see you! Oh, I missed you!” She might have gone on in a similar vein for quite some time had Anakin and R2D2 not come up behind her.

Padmé released her nieces and turned them towards Anakin. “Ryoo, Pooja, this is Anakin. Anakin, this is Ryoo and Pooja.”

Both parties regarded each other cautiously, the girls seeming shy around a visitor and Anakin equally ill at ease around children. Finally Ryoo mumbled, “Um, hi,” and she and her sister hurried off to greet Artoo, with whom they were obviously much better acquainted. Padmé and Anakin chuckled as they watched the girls smother the little droid in kisses and hugs.

“Padmé! You’re here, welcome home!”

And Padmé turned again, this time to embrace her sister Sola. “Mom and Dad will be so happy to see you,” Sola said after they had parted and Padmé introduced her to Anakin (Sola’s eyes narrowed suspiciously). “It’s been a difficult few weeks.”

Padmé sighed. She could only imagine what her family must have gone through when the news of the assassination attempts reached them. It was bad enough when she had gone unexpectedly off-planet during the incident with the Trade Federation, but her parents and sister would at least have been secure in the knowledge that she was protected by a team of expert bodyguards, and that technically her life wasn’t directly threatened. This time was different. This time, someone wanted her personally. So she was sent to hide here … while Obi-Wan searched the galaxy for clues as to the identity of the assassin.

She bit her lip. It was difficult not to find overtones of chivalry in that fact, even though she knew very well he was only doing it because it was the duty assigned him.

“Mom’s making dinner,” Sola noted, jolting Padmé’s thoughts back to the present. “As usual, your timing is perfect.”

The house was as comfortable as it had always been. Plush furniture, soft colours and a throw rug scattered here and there lent an aura of home that she could never seem to create in her official residences. Perhaps “home” is more defined by the people I see and hear when I walk through the door, as opposed to the objects present, Padmé thought as she embraced her mother and father and took a seat at the dining room table. Ruwee and Padmé shared a small smile as Sola’s voice filtered in from the kitchen, continually exclaiming, “Too much, Mom!”

“I doubt they’ve been starving all the way from Coruscant!” Sola called over her shoulder as she carried in a basket of bread and a bowl filled to the brim with pasta.

“Enough to feed the town?” Padmé chuckled.

“You know Mom,” Sola muttered. To Anakin she said, “No one has ever left this house hungry.”

“Well, I think one person did once, but Mom chased him down and dragged him back in,” Padmé amended.

“To feed him or cook him?” Anakin quipped, and everyone burst out laughing just as Jobal carried another steaming tray into the dining room. This, of course, made them laugh all the harder until Jobal fixed them with an imperious stare.

“They arrived just in time for dinner,” she said, dipping a serving spoon into the pasta and doling it out onto plates. “I know what that means.” Smiling at her guest, Jobal added, “I hope you’re hungry, Anakin.”

He smiled shyly. “A little.”

Padmé laughed and reached for the bowl of pasta. “He’s being polite, Mom, we’re starved,” she said. “Food on refugee transports isn’t exactly world-class homemade fare.”

They ate in silence for several moments, staving off initial hunger pangs, before Jobal looked up and addressed her youngest daughter. “Honey, it’s so good to see you safe. We were so worried.”

Padmé sighed and stabbed a forkful of pasta. Of course they have to bring that up, she thought. Honestly.

Ruwee shot his wife a warning look and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Dear –”

“I know, I know!” Jobal sighed. “But I had to say it. Now it’s done.”

Sola took a sip of water and cleared her throat. “Well, this is exciting! Do you know, Anakin, you’re the first boyfriend my sister ever brought home?”

“Sola!” Padmé said angrily. “He isn’t my boyfriend. He’s a Jedi assigned by the Senate to protect me.”

“A bodyguard?” Jobal said worriedly. “Oh, Padmé, they didn’t tell us it was that serious!”

Padmé had to close her eyes and mentally calm herself before she replied. “It’s not, Mom. I promise. Anyway, Anakin’s a friend. I’ve known him for years. Remember that little boy who was with the Jedi during the blockade crisis?”

“Oh, the one who was apprenticed to Obi-Wan Kenobi afterwards?” Sola nodded. “Yes, I’m starting to remember now. His Master was killed liberating Naboo.”

“Obi-Wan Kenobi?” Ruwee said, and he and Jobal exchanged dark looks. “Isn’t he the man you had that crush on a few years ago?”

Padmé flushed a deep red. It did not escape her attention that Anakin’s fork had stopped all forward motion and that he was listening keenly. Oh, if he were to find out about her feelings for his Master … she didn’t think she could bear it. “Dad – Daddy – that was a long time ago,” she managed finally. She wished Anakin would look away. “Things change. People change.”

“You haven’t written him any more letters, have you?” Jobal lifted an eyebrow.

“No, of course not!” Padmé quickly exclaimed. Then, sensing Anakin about to contradict her, she amended, “Well, one. I wrote him a letter before we left Coruscant, but I had to! When I stopped writing to him a couple of years ago it really hurt him. I wanted to explain what, precisely, had made me stop.” She looked sternly at her parents.

“Honey, you shouldn’t be writing to him,” Ruwee reminded her. “It might cause a relapse.”

“A what?” said Anakin.

Padmé cut off the forthcoming explanation with a death glare across the table. “Can we please discuss this later?” she said, putting a heavy emphasis on the word later. “I don’t believe supper is quite the time.”

“Perhaps not,” Jobal allowed, but she continued to fix a suspicious eye on Padmé throughout the rest of the meal and even afterwards as she and her daughters were cleaning the dishes. Ruwee did the same before inviting Anakin out to the backyard for a walk.

The tension was palpable. They worked in silence, each left to their own tumultuous thoughts. Jobal was managing to look annoyed and nervous at the same time, as though the very thought of Padmé communicating with Obi-Wan was an affront to her sensibilities. Padmé herself was furious with her parents for reopening that old wound, and angry at herself for not taking steps to prevent it. Sola betrayed no outward emotions, smiling blandly as if she knew a secret.

“Why haven’t you told us about him?” she suddenly asked.

Padmé was momentarily startled out of her anger. “Who, Anakin? There’s nothing to tell. He’s just a boy.”

“A boy?” Sola chuckled. “Have you seen the way he looks at you?”

“Anakin and I are friends,” Padmé said in a tone that brooked no arguments. “Regardless of how he may feel about me, I don’t see him as anything other than a sweet little boy. Besides, I know now that even having a simple crush on a Jedi is not permitted in this family.” She threw an accusatory glance at her mother.

“Padmé, what we did was for your own good,” Jobal replied calmly. “Obi-Wan Kenobi is not suitable for you and you know it. And the evidence indicated that your feelings for him went well beyond a ‘simple crush.’ Better to sever the relationship at its roots, rather than allow it a chance to sprout into something dangerous.”

Dangerous?” Padmé exploded. “We were writing each other letters! What’s so dangerous about that?”

“It could easily have developed into something more!” Jobal shot back. “How do you think your father and I fell in love with each other? We wrote letters back and forth!”

“Only after you were forced into an arranged engagement,” Padmé muttered. “You wrote letters to Daddy to get to know him better before your wedding. And in the process you just happened to fall in love. Lucky for you, but that doesn’t mean every relationship will be sealed through letters. You would have done better to continue to allow me to write to Obi-Wan and sort out my feelings on my own. I know very well that the Jedi Code doesn’t allow for attachments and I was perfectly prepared to love him from a distance.”

“Padmé, how many times must I tell you? Your father and I only want what’s best for you. We don’t want to see you get hurt! We believed that after your term in politics had ended you would meet a nice man and settle down and have children, just as nearly every other Nubian has done for ages. And when that didn’t happen, we wanted to stop you from making a decision you might later regret. That’s all. There was no malicious intent whatsoever. So I wish you would stop treating your father and I as though we have a personal vendetta against you, because I assure you, we don’t.”

And with that, Jobal tossed her dishcloth onto the counter and stalked out of the kitchen.

Padmé sank down onto a kitchen chair, tears unexpectedly pricking at her eyes. Why couldn’t they just stop discussing this? Why did so many visits have to be ruined by this topic? What was so wrong with love? She had never stopped loving Obi-Wan, despite her parents’ best efforts to stamp the feelings out of her. Certainly, part of it was her attraction to him. He was a very desirable man. But another part … another part was just floating to the surface of her consciousness, just making itself known.

Her love for Obi-Wan felt like life. It made her feel alive, energized, like a beautiful, sensual person instead of the politician she almost always was. Every time he looked at her, even if it was just in an official capacity, she found herself paying more attention to her hair, her facial expressions, the way she walked and the way she carried herself. When she thought of how she loved him, the only sensation that compared was that of stepping into a cool, clear stream, breathing mountain air, being in an open field. Being free. And being absolutely, completely and implicitly herself.

“Credit for your thoughts?” Sola had taken the seat next to hers.

Padmé sighed and ran a tired hand over her face. “I don’t know, Sola. It’s all so complicated. I just wish … I just wish Mom and I, or Dad and I, didn’t have to argue about this every time I come home. It’s in the past. Why can’t we just forget it?”

“I don’t know. Is it really in the past?” Sola asked softly.

Her sister’s open and comforting tone was inviting somehow. Inviting her to say what she really felt. Padmé looked at her feet. “I used to think so. Now I’m not so sure.”

Sola nodded. “You don’t sound sure, either. And I wish there was something I could say to make it all better, but I know there’s nothing. Love is a difficult business.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Padmé said bitterly.

“Well, for what it’s worth, I think Mom and Dad are being very pigheaded about this,” Sola said, causing Padmé to look up in surprise. “Yes, that’s right. I never went along with this whole business of them stopping you writing to Obi-Wan. My feeling is, if you love someone, if you deeply care for them, you should be allowed to feel that. Trying to restrict you from even falling in love … well, it’s ridiculous is what it is. To my mind, you’re old enough to make your own choices. For Force’s sake, you’ve governed a whole planet and now you’re practically in charge of the Chommell Sector. If that’s not responsibility then I don’t know what is.”

“But – but maybe Mom and Dad are right,” Padmé ventured. She didn’t really want to believe that, not at all, but her politician’s persona was as usual forcing her to examine all sides of the issue. “Maybe Obi-Wan is the wrong person for me. Maybe I should have married Andrew when he asked me.” She shifted uncomfortably.

“You don’t believe that, and I know you don’t,” Sola countered. “That’s Dad talking. I know how much in favour Mom and Dad were of that particular relationship. Of course, it was all a front to distract you from Obi-Wan. They keep saying they don’t want you to get hurt, but I think you’ve already been hurt. You’ve been hurt by them keeping you away from him.”

“When I met him again on Coruscant, it – it was like being released from a prison,” Padmé confessed, suddenly unguarded. “Suddenly I could live, somehow. And I didn’t care what anybody thought. How I acted towards him was my business. And … I don’t know, he’s very kind and gentle and he comforted me after Cordé’s death, and then when we were at the docks, he hugged me.”

A smile flitted across Sola’s face. “He hugged you?”

“Yes. I don’t know how it happened, really. I wrote him a letter before I left my apartment, just to explain why I stopped writing to him two years ago. I felt I owed him that much. So when we were at the docks, I gave it to him and suddenly we were hugging. I can’t explain it.”

“Oh, there’s an easy explanation: you love him,” said Sola simply.

“But – but he’s a Jedi!” Padmé burst out. “They’re not supposed to have attachments. They aren’t allowed to fall in love, or get married … the relationship would be doomed before it even got off the ground!”

“Anakin seems to have no such qualms about violating those restrictions,” Sola remarked. “At least, judging by the way he keeps looking at you.”

“Anakin’s not like other Jedi,” Padmé insisted. “He was inducted into the Order at a later age. Most of them live in the Temple from infancy, but we found Ani on Tatooine when he was nine. They didn’t even want to train him at first. Then after Qui-Gon’s death … well, I guess his dying wish to Obi-Wan was that Anakin be trained as a Jedi, so it happened. But Anakin’s never had the same amount of control over himself as the others do. Obi-Wan and I talked about it often in our letters.”

“And Obi-Wan himself?” Sola prompted.

“He’s the last Jedi in the galaxy who would break the Code. I’m sure of it.”

“Well, I’m not. Love can do very strange things to people. And think about it: he comforted you after Cordé died and hugged you at the Coruscant docks. Both of which imply an attachment, at least to me.”

“You don’t think that could possibly be because we’re friends, do you?” Padmé said sarcastically, but Sola cut her off.

“That’s part of it, but it’s not everything. I know you’ve acknowledged your love for him, Padme, at least in part. But there’s still a bit of you that’s in denial. Mom and Dad have gotten to you whether you like it or not, and you’re questioning yourself. You’re questioning your feelings. If I were you I would take a good hard look at that part of you inside that refuses to believe it. I’d force that part out into the open – pardon the pun – and examine it. Turn it over in your hands. Think about it objectively. And then try to look me in the eye and tell me you feel only friendship for Obi-Wan and he feels only friendship for you. I’ll bet my shoelaces you won’t be able to.”

And Sola stood, leaving Padmé in the kitchen to her very confused thoughts.

I’ve done as Sola suggested.

I’ve reached deep inside myself, to that place where I keep my darkest secrets. All the secrets I don’t want Mom and Dad and Anakin and even Obi-Wan to know. I had a hint of that place and the feelings I keep in that place at dinner, when I was fighting with Mom and Dad about it. But I was too angry and upset to truly think of it as I should. Now, I have. And this is what I’ve realized.

I love Obi-Wan Kenobi. I love him with everything that I am.

The phrase “I love Obi-Wan” means nothing more or less to me than the phrase “I am alive.” Because he brings me to life. And I know he always will.

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

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