Fandom: Star Wars
Characters: Padmé, Anakin, mentions of Obi-Wan (this one's mainly Anakin/Padmé interaction)
Word Count: 4,898
Summary: Padmé and Anakin arrive in the Lake Country, go on a picnic, and have a fireside chat.
Author's Notes: I had a hell of a time with this chapter, for some reason that I haven't yet figured out. It took me about seven days just to write it, which is definitely longer than I would have preferred it to be, and then it was further delayed by my beta reader/best friend Katie's wedding on Saturday. Congrats, hun! *hugs* I had emailed it to her Saturday to beta, but she only just, and understandably, returned it to me last night. Seems like I always say I'll try to be prompt with the next chapter and then it gets later and later and later. *sigh* I will try my utmost, and I do mean my utmost, to do better with Chapter 8, but I won't make promises since I'll be significantly occupied with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this weekend. As for this chapter? Well, it's mainly Anakin/Padmé interaction with Obidala-type twists. I feel like I had to cram a lot in here, and it shows in the word count -- I can't believe I wrote almost 5,000 words! -- but there are several scenes in here that are crucial to later goings-on, so I had to put them somewhere. And it didn't seem to make sense to break them up and give them separate chapters. So, you get one gigantic Chapter 7. Enjoy!
PERSONAL RECORD: PADME AMIDALA
It surprises me how thankful I am to be away from my parents’ house. And then, immediately after that surprise comes guilt. I shouldn’t feel relief at leaving my own family, should I? I hardly ever see them, so I ought to take advantage of every opportunity I have to spend time with them. And, were it not for what happens every time I visit them, I would be taking advantage of and enjoying these opportunities. But my parents insist upon clinging to the past, and so I can’t.
Perhaps they cling to the past with good reason. The last entry in my personal record stands as proof of this. I won’t retract those words even if they were written in the heat of a passionate realization, because they are true. After Sola left me I finished the cleanup, bid good-night to my parents and nieces and Anakin and headed up to bed. I could tell Anakin was disappointed at not being able to accompany me to my room, but there was really no reason for him to do so. My home is perfectly secure and if any danger were to present itself, he could sense it in the Force well before it became a threat. So I saw no reason to permit him to enter my bedroom. The bedroom is a very private place, after all.
I am embarrassed to admit what I did after arriving in my room, but this is my personal record, and I ought to be truthful in it. I packed some clothes to wear at Varykino, I sent a few messages to Queen Jamillia and the Senate, I took off my clothes, I lay in bed … and I pretended Obi-Wan was with me. I pretended he was loving me, as I have dreamed about him loving me for so long now, and I pretended he was kissing me in places few men have ever seen. I’ve never been intimate with anyone before, really physically intimate. Oh, of course many have tried, but none have succeeded. Andrew was particularly tenacious. Now, he believed we were to be married right up until I rejected his proposal, so I suppose he had a reason to think I would go further with him than with anyone else. But I didn’t; I couldn’t.
The idea of sex just to please one’s partner bothers me. It always has. To me, when a person becomes intimate they should do so because they truly care about their partner, not because they know it would make their partner feel good. I’m aware that most men find me attractive; it has even been an asset at times. But the one man whom I actually want to look at me in “that way” is and always will be an enigma. I don’t know if Obi-Wan has ever been in love. Nor do I know if he would even succumb to something like love. He’s a Jedi after all, and has been indoctrinated all of his life to avoid relationships and the attachment they bring. He likely only thinks of me as a friend. And that’s how it should be, really.
But sometimes, as happened last night, I dream of him noticing me as a woman. I dream of him taking me in his arms, kissing me, desiring me. These ideas are absurd, I know – it’s a fantasy that can never occur. But does that make it any easier for me to banish those thoughts from my head? No, it doesn’t.
The last entry in my personal record was typed as I lay in bed, blissful from the aftereffects of the feelings that sweep over me when I pleasure myself. I think I’m finally able to admit, for better or worse, my feelings for Obi-Wan. Certainly I’ll never tell HIM, I just couldn’t. I’d be too afraid of him nodding gently and then launching into a lecture about the Jedi Code. Or worse, regarding me as someone to be pitied. I don’t want his pity. I want his love.
But I know it can’t happen. So I’ll have to content myself with fantasies such as last night’s. Somehow it seems easier now I’ve admitted to myself that I love him. I wonder why that is. And I hope I can survive being at Varykino with Anakin and not revealing the truth. If there’s anyone who cannot know, it’s Anakin.
It would destroy him.
“Whatcha typing?” Anakin peered over her shoulder. “Senate stuff?”
Padmé blushed deeply and closed her datapad. “No, no, just my journal,” she managed to reply. “I find sometimes that my mind gets so full of thoughts that it helps to store some of them in electronic form. So I keep a diary. I started just after I was elected Queen, and I’ve continued up until this day.”
“That takes discipline,” Anakin remarked. “It’s – well, it’s a discipline I admit I’ve never quite been able to conjure up.”
She smiled. “You don’t seem the type, no. But that’s not a bad thing. Some people just aren’t like that. Depends on your personality, I suppose.”
“Yeah.” Anakin settled back in the boat, looking completely relaxed for once. Padmé knew the feeling well; it was what she experienced whenever she was in the Lake Country. She hadn’t been there for a few years now, owing to the fact that her Senatorial duties kept her too busy for such pleasures. And although she wasn’t exactly pleased at the reason she was back, she had to admit that it had the same calming influence every time. She doubted it would help her in her present condition, but there was always hope.
It wasn’t long before the small skiff pulled up at the dock near her home. Anakin helped her to climb out, they paused for a moment to gather their bags and drop them off in their rooms, and then suddenly they were alone. Padmé would have liked to be truly alone, left in her room to think and contemplate, but she knew from Anakin’s restless demeanor that he would probably not permit this. She could understand his concerns in a way – after all, he hadn’t yet checked the premises for existing threats – but it didn’t mean she could cope easily. Anakin had been quiet and reserved all the way from her parents’ house, most unusual for him, and she thought she had a good idea of what might be on his mind. It was only a matter of time before he brought it up.
They strolled out to the balcony, the light catching the colours of Padmé’s dress and turning it from white, to yellow, to deepest pink. She wasn’t sure precisely why she had chosen it, other than that it seemed to suit the location: casual and soft, attached around her neck and leaving her back bare.
Maybe I shouldn’t have worn this dress after all, Padmé realized, shifting uncomfortably as she walked and catching Anakin gazing at her suggestively. She’d been thinking of Obi-Wan when she put it on, but after all, he wasn’t exactly here. I just wish Anakin would say something instead of staring at me like that.
She knew she needed to distract him somehow. “We used to come here for school retreat,” she blurted, wincing at the suddenness of her words. “We used to swim to that island every day. I love the water.”
They drew level with the balcony rail. Padmé gripped it desperately. Perhaps hanging onto something physical would centre her somehow, focus her attention on the present where it needed to be. The way Anakin was looking at her … she had the distinct impression that she would need all her wits about her.
“We used to lie on the sand and let the sun dry us, and try to guess the names of the birds singing,” Padmé told him.
“I don’t like sand,” Anakin informed her. “It’s coarse, and rough, and irritating … and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth.”
She felt a touch on her back, as gentle and fleeting as the wind tickling her skin. Perhaps it was the wind. But the feeling continued, the sensations flitting across her back and shoulder even though she could feel no wind on her face. Her shoulder, her back, her shoulder again, they were being touched by strong, supple fingers. And her head was turning, turning towards Anakin, and they were drawing towards each other, and their lips were meeting …
Padmé thought, What?
We’re KISSING now?
A moment ago we were just standing next to each other, and now – now we’re kissing?
And all the while, Anakin was deepening the kiss, bringing her closer, there were pinpricks of heat exploding all over her body, Anakin’s tongue was caressing her lips as though seeking permission to enter her mouth …
Who does he think he IS?
She broke the kiss as suddenly as Anakin had started it, pulling abruptly away to grip the balcony rail again. “No,” she said firmly, “you shouldn’t have done that.”
He at least had the decency to look chagrined. “Sorry, m’lady. When I’m around you, my mind is no longer my own.”
“Is that so?” Padmé had turned away from the balcony and was facing him without even realizing it. “Then perhaps you need to learn some control, Anakin. You can’t just go around kissing people without their permission! It’s incredibly rude!”
“Permission?” Anakin sputtered. “But – but Padmé, I was touching you before and you didn’t seem to mind it, so I thought …”
“A touch is different from a kiss and you know it,” she retorted. “Anakin, we’re friends. I don’t mind if we reconnect on a friendly level. In fact, I like it. I enjoy being with you. But what you just did crossed the line from being friendly, to being, well, quite inappropriate.”
“Padmé, please.” Anakin blinked hard. He seemed to be trying not to burst into tears.
“This isn’t something I want to discuss with you at the moment,” Padmé interrupted. “I have already told you of my feelings on the matter. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are some Senate documents requiring my attention.”
And without a further word, she crossed the balcony and strode indoors, leaving Anakin with his face crumpling.
Late morning found Padmé in her bedroom, reading over her messages from the Senate but not taking in a word. Her mind was elsewhere, thinking about what had happened earlier on the balcony. It wasn’t the kiss so much; she knew her exact feelings on that. Anakin was her friend, someone for whom she cared deeply. But not in a romantic sense. If anything, she still saw him as the child he had been on Tatooine. So to kiss someone she thought of as nine years old made her feel supremely uncomfortable.
She had accused him of being rude, which probably wasn’t exactly the right thing to do. She had been pretty rude herself, in the end.
Padmé sighed. She wouldn’t, couldn’t, let herself think of Obi-Wan. Not now. Her feelings for him would only serve to complicate matters further, even though she knew she would eventually have to face up to them. And tell Anakin …
A knock sounded at the door. “Um … Padmé?” Anakin’s voice sounded raw and hesitant.
I can’t wait any longer, Padmé thought. I have to apologize.
Slowly she creaked open her door. To her surprise, Anakin was holding a picnic basket.
“I thought we could go out for a picnic,” he said softly. “I – I got the kitchen staff to make this for me, but … but only if you want to. We don’t have to. Really.”
Padmé smiled. “Ani, it’s okay. You don’t have to treat me as though I’m a detonator waiting to explode. I was just a bit surprised earlier, and I overreacted. I was rude, too. I shouldn’t have said most of those things.”
He bit his lip. “Well, I was kind of being stupid too,” he admitted. “I shouldn’t have kissed you. I know I shouldn’t have, and in any other situation, I would have controlled myself. But I couldn’t for some reason. I – I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry too,” she said. “And I would love to go on a picnic with you.”
It was perhaps her favourite spot in the Lake Country: a grassy hill overlooking twin waterfalls, shaaks grazing peacefully nearby, and a variety of insects flitting about and pollinating brightly-coloured flowers. This was the one place besides Varykino and her parents’ house where Padmé truly felt at home and could be herself. She even blended in with the land, having changed into a long, gauzy yellow dress and a shawl and headband speckled with flowers. The picnic that the cooks had packed was delicious, and she could not remember ever feeling more content.
I wish Obi-Wan were here, said a small voice in her mind. She quickly hushed it and shook her head at Anakin’s last question. “Oh … I don’t know.”
“Sure you do, you just don’t want to tell me,” Anakin challenged.
Padmé lifted an eyebrow. “Are you going to use one of your Jedi mind tricks on me?”
“No, they only work on the weak-minded,” he assured her with a smile. She blushed a little, sensing he had just given her a backhanded compliment.
“All right,” she sighed. “I was twelve. His name was Palo, we were both in the Legislative Youth Program. He was a few years older than I. Very cute … dark curly hair, dreamy eyes …”
“Okay, okay, I get the picture,” Anakin muttered, suddenly disinterested. “Whatever happened to him?”
“I went into public service, he went on to become an artist,” Padmé replied.
“Maybe he was the smart one.”
She narrowed her eyes. “You really don’t like politicians, do you?”
“I like two or three,” Anakin said, “but I’m not really sure about one of them.”
Both chuckled lightly. Padmé bit into an apple, pleased with how the conversation seemed to be going. It was easy, sitting here and talking like this. She could be his friend, which was all she had wanted to be in the first place. And he could certainly understand more of the complexities of life than he had been able to when he was nine. They could talk, have adult discussions, be companionable towards each other.
Yes, she definitely liked this.
It’s like talking with Obi-Wan, said the little voice.
“I don’t think the system works,” Anakin was saying.
“Really?” Padmé said sarcastically. “How would you have it work?”
He chewed his lip, obviously thinking hard. “We need a system where the politicians sit down and discuss the problem, agree what’s in the best interests of all the people, and then do it,” he said finally.
“That’s exactly what we do,” she countered. “The trouble is that people don’t always agree. In fact, they hardly ever do.”
“Well, then they should be made to,” Anakin said with conviction.
Padmé gazed at him incredulously. “By whom, who’s going to make them?”
He threw his hands up, looking flummoxed. “I don’t know! But someone.”
“Of course not me!”
Anakin nodded. “Someone wise.”
I’d never be able to live like that, Padmé thought. I think I would die before choosing to live with a system of government that tells me what to think. She shook her head. “Sounds an awful lot like a dictatorship to me.”
“Well, if it works …” Anakin shrugged.
Does he really think that? He can’t possibly. Then she noticed the grin spreading over his face, and matched it with a smile of her own. “You’re making fun of me!”
“Oh, no, I’d be much too frightened to tease a Senator,” he snickered.
Padmé discovered many things about Anakin that afternoon. His sense of playfulness, which had been ever-present when he was young, still existed within him and was a sight to behold when released. His sense of humour she suspected was at least partially influenced by Obi-Wan; she could recognize the same dry wit and small smiles that would creep onto his face when she least expected it. He was fun to be with, and he loved to make her laugh. Several times she had to pause and clutch at a stitch in her belly, she was giggling so hard.
But it was only near the end of a particularly wild episode in which he tried to ride a shaak backwards, leading to it bucking him off, that she realized what he had really been doing during their supposedly innocent picnic.
She had missed the many sideways glances and small smiles that permeated the afternoon, but now, lying on top of him in the grass, there was no mistaking what that grin meant. Or what the bump in his trousers signified. She was blushing even before her conscious brain had made the connection, their position reminding her eerily of other situations she had been in, with other men. Men who only wanted one thing.
Padmé rolled off as quickly as she could.
And he looked confused for a moment, but still happy, and as they rode off back towards their picnic site on one of the shaaks, the same thought that had haunted her since the confrontation at her parents’ house assailed her again.
How was she going to tell him?
“And when I went to them, we went into … aggressive negotiations. Thank you,” Anakin added to Teckla as she placed a juicy green- and cream-coloured shuura fruit in front of him.
It was suppertime, the sun was just beginning to dip below the horizon, and Padmé was seated across from him with a fruit in front of her as well, wondering again if she had chosen the right clothing. Certainly her black evening gown was formal enough, long and sparkly and glittery. But a light shawl was all that camouflaged her cleavage, and it was a warm night. Sooner or later, she would have to remove it. Possibly in front of Anakin.
What was I thinking when I chose these clothes? she asked herself in wonder.
Probably you were thinking of Obi-Wan, smirked the small voice.
Then Padmé remembered Anakin was waiting for a response. “Aggressive negotiations? What’s that?”
“Well, uh, negotiations with a lightsaber.” Anakin waved his fork around as though it wasn’t really important.
“Oh, I see,” Padmé said wryly. Trust Anakin to twist it that way. But still, it made her laugh.
She reached with her fork and knife to cut a piece off the fruit, but it moved. Confused, she stabbed her fork down again and the shuura dodged, deliberately avoiding the tines. Padmé looked quickly up at Anakin, who was watching her with an all-too-innocent stare.
“You did that!” she accused.
He shrugged. “What?”
Padmé went for the fruit again, but Anakin’s Jedi reflexes were quicker. This time he floated it all the way across to his plate, cut it in half, and sent one half back over the table towards her. “If Master Obi-Wan caught me doing this he’d be very grumpy,” Anakin confessed.
Padmé pretended to giggle as she speared the fruit slice in midair with her fork and bit into it, but her insides were squirming. Why hasn’t he asked yet? He ought to suspect something. Unless he’s trying to deny to himself what’s out there in the open. But still, it’s not in Anakin’s nature not to ask questions. I wish he would ask me about the dinner conversation with my parents and get it over with.
Presently they finished their dessert, and although she would have liked to escape back to her room again, Anakin invited her to sit by the fire for awhile and she knew it would be impolite to refuse. Particularly after the liberties she had taken earlier in the day. So she consented, hoping that her reluctance didn’t show.
Anakin built a roaring fire in the hearth as Padmé settled herself on one of the couches and tried to relax. She wasn’t even sure why she was agitated, or what there was to be agitated about. She knew only that she was. The room seemed hot, hotter even than it should have been with the fire going. A bead of sweat trickled down her forehead and she knew she would have to dispense with her shawl.
“Here, let me help you with that.” Anakin was by her side in an instant as her fingers slipped and slid over the clasp at the back. He easily unhooked it with a touch of his fingers, draping it over the back of the couch. Then, to her horror, he sat right next to her.
Any closer and he’ll be climbing into my lap for a bedtime story, Padmé thought.
She became aware that he was staring at her. A slow, penetrating gaze, as though he was trying to reach into the deepest recesses of her and draw out her secrets. It reminded her of when she had first met him in Watto’s shop, and he had stared at her for at least a full minute before asking her if she was an angel. Padmé swallowed hard and looked away.
He began to speak. “From the moment I met you, all those years ago, not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought of you. And now that I’m with you again, I’m in agony. The closer I get to you, the worse it gets. The thought of not being with you … I can’t breathe. I’m haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me. My heart is beating, hoping that kiss will not become a scar.”
She was looking at him now, she couldn’t help it. She didn’t want to just sit there and be admired, like some sort of statue in a village square. She needed to look back at him, acknowledge what he was saying, all the time knowing what her eventual answer would be.
“You are in my very soul, tormenting me,” Anakin continued. “What can I do? I will do anything you ask.”
Stop this, she silently pleaded. Stop this, end this right now. It doesn’t matter if you’ve thought of me for ten years. It doesn’t matter if we kissed. I can’t leap into your arms and become your lover. I just can’t.
He mistook her silence for aloofness and said desperately, “If you are suffering as much as I am, please, tell me!”
Padmé shifted uncomfortably. She knew what she had to say, she knew precisely, but that didn’t make it any easier. “I can’t. We can’t, it’s – just not possible.”
“Anything is possible,” Anakin replied immediately, “please listen, Padmé –”
She found herself on her feet, walking away from him towards the fire, breathing hard. Hating herself for what she would have to say. “No, you listen! We live in a real world. Come back to it! You’re studying to become a Jedi Knight, I’m a Senator. If you follow your thoughts through to conclusion, they will take us to a place we cannot go. Regardless of the way you feel about me!”
His face fell a little. “Then – then you don’t feel anything?”
Padmé went to him, took his hand. “Anakin, I care about you so much. You’re a very dear friend to me. I just don’t think of you in a romantic way. I’m sorry.”
Anakin looked at his feet. The penetrating gaze had gone and he now reminded her very much of a frightened little boy. “Well … could that change, sometime?”
She shook her head. “No, I don’t think so.” How in the galaxy do you tell someone that you only think of them as a friend without hurting their feelings? Padmé thought. Maybe it can’t be done.
Suddenly Anakin’s anger flared. “It’s because of Obi-Wan, isn’t it?” he said, jerking his hand away from her touch. “You love him, even though you told your parents you didn’t. I was right when I said you two were writing love letters, I knew it!”
“Anakin –” Padmé started.
“He always gets everything! Anything he wants, the Council gives him just because he killed a stupid Sith Lord! Or they would give it to him, but he’s so perfect he would never ask!” Anakin was now pacing back and forth in front of the fire in his agitation. “It’s not fair! He expects everyone to be perfect just because he is, but it won’t happen! There are different kinds of perfection!”
“Of course there are,” Padmé agreed. She wanted to be there for him, to help him as much as she could, but she felt woefully unprepared.
“And now, on top of everything else, you love him! But he’s so perfect, he would never go against the Code, so it’s all a waste! Has he actually told you he loves you?”
“No,” she said, “he hasn’t.”
“I knew it! You see? It is a waste. It’s a complete waste.” Anakin sank down onto the couch with his head in his hands. “It isn’t fair. It just isn’t fair.”
Padmé seated herself next to him, gently hugging him to her. “Well, you know the old saying. If wishes were banthas, beggars would ride. Life isn’t fair, I understand that just as much as you do.”
Anakin’s response was a derisive snort, but he didn’t move away this time.
“No, look at it from my perspective,” Padmé insisted. “Ever since I became Queen my parents have paraded a steady progression of suitors in front of me, any one of whom would have been honoured and pleased to become my husband. Any one of whom would have treated me wonderfully. But I couldn’t marry them, because I didn’t love them. I believe in only marrying if you truly love your intended. Anything less would be dishonest. But the one person I did truly love wasn’t permitted to marry me, by virtue of being a Jedi. And I’m sure,” she added with a heavy sigh, “that he only thinks of me as a friend. So I do know how you feel. Don’t be so quick to assume that you’re alone in the galaxy, Ani. You’re not. I promise.”
She was surprised to find tears pricking her eyelids, and swiped hurriedly at her face.
Anakin bit his lip. “Maybe not,” he conceded. “But that doesn’t exactly solve our problems, does it?”
“No,” Padmé admitted. “I don’t suppose it does. But at least it provides us with someone else to commiserate with. Someone who knows how we feel.”
“For all the good that’ll do us,” Anakin said bitterly. “Were your parents opposed to just Obi-Wan, or all Jedi?”
She sensed them slipping back onto dangerous ground, but could do nothing about it. “I suspect it’s all Jedi. When we first discussed it, my father told me he wanted someone who could make a commitment to me, and that Jedi can’t do that because of the Code. They want me to set up at home like a good little housewife after I retire from the Senate and live with my husband and have six children. I’ve heard them talking about it. But it’s the last thing I want to do.”
“Well, it – it wouldn’t have to be that way,” Anakin said hesitantly. “We could keep it a secret.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“If we, well, you know, loved each other and decided to get married. We wouldn’t have to tell anybody what we were doing. We could just … do it.”
Padmé was shaking her head before he had even finished speaking. “We’d be living a lie, one we couldn’t keep even if we wanted to. I couldn’t do that. Could you, Anakin, could you live like that?”
“No, I guess not,” he murmured. “It would destroy us.”
“Besides, I can’t – I can’t marry you anyway,” she said gently. “Didn’t you listen to what I was saying before? I turned down marriage proposals from two men because I didn’t love them. I like you as a friend. And while I’m sure I could be happy married to a friend, it’s not what I want for myself. I’m not even sure if I want to get married in the first place. I want children, but … it all depends on my meeting someone I can love romantically.”
He pulled away from her then, moving to stand beside the fireplace. “Then I can’t – I can’t be with you, I can’t touch you, I just – I have to control myself and the easiest way to do that is just … I can’t do this.”
“Anakin, wait –”
“No! No, I can’t! You don’t understand, if we can’t be together, I have to cut myself off from temptation. I’m a Jedi, I’m not even supposed to be feeling like this in the first place. I’ll still protect you, but I don’t – I can’t be close to you. I’m sorry.”
Padmé lowered her gaze, disappointed but somehow unsurprised. “All right, if that’s what you feel would be best, then that’s what we’ll have to do.”
And he turned away, before she could see what it was costing him, before she could spot the tears beginning to stream down his face.