Characters: Obi-Wan, Padmé, Luke, Leia
Word Count: 2,268
Summary: "I - I as good as killed him, Padmé."
Author's Notes: One of these days Obi-Wan will stop being angsty. Maybe. Possibly. XD The poor guy, though. I'm finding it really hard to write these scenes where he's emotional, if only because I keep wanting to stop and give him a big hug. Padmé's continual rejections aren't really helping, either. *cuddles her Obi!muse* Things will get better soon, I promise.
Padmé sleeps most of the way to Alderaan, and in a sense, you’re grateful. When she’s asleep, you don’t have to endure her silence, and the looks of heavy scorn she keeps shooting at you. When she’s asleep, you don’t have to glance into her eyes and see the pain and torment there. The news that her children will be raised by others has obviously rattled her to the core, and you can’t help feeling that you’ve taken away something fundamental to her being.
The bigger problem, from your point of view, is when to tell Padmé about Anakin’s fate. She’s bound to be wondering, even if she hasn’t yet raised the question. You teetered on the edge of explaining the whole thing to her a few hours ago, but decided at the last moment that telling her of Anakin’s death and the plans for the twins would be too overwhelming.
Now, every time you think about what you might say, you feel a sick, plunging sensation in your stomach. Padmé already seems to hate you for agreeing to send Luke and Leia away, even though it was not your decision to do so. How will she feel when you tell her of Anakin’s death and, not only that, the fact that you were the one who struck the killing blow?
At this rate, she’ll never speak to me again.
You sigh, rise, walk to the window. The twins are asleep, and Padmé tosses in a bunk nearby. According to the medical droids, she’s healing, albeit slowly. You feel somewhat comforted at the idea of the same Polis Massan droids that treated her through delivery being available again to you now. Yoda made an executive decision that they should be brought along in a deactivated state. Polis Massa has other medical droids, after all, and the danger to the mining colony if the Empire were to find it is less without the droids that treated Padmé. Their memories could be deleted, of course, but reversing a memory wipe can be done if one possesses the appropriate technology. The Polis Massans themselves believe Padmé died, of course, as did her unborn child, so there is little danger there. Thank the Force you were able to pull off that ruse effectively.
Stars whiz by, bright streaks in hyperspace, and a soft sigh from behind you announces Padmé’s return to wakefulness. You sigh as well, thinking of two tasks that now confront you.
“I have to take your measurements,” you announce without preamble, grabbing a scanner from a nearby table.
“Why?” she asks suspiciously.
“The official explanation given out by the Empire is that you were caught in the crossfire of the Jedi rebellion, and killed,” you explain. “And really, the actual story isn’t that much different, aside from the fact that you are not in reality dead. But in order to uphold the official line we have to return your body to Naboo for a proper burial, and to do that, we need a body to actually return. So a decoy is being made, to your precise measurements, and that’s what will be handed over. It’s an inanimate figurine, essentially, which will have your features, height and weight, and will be buried.”
“So they’re holding a funeral for me?”
You nod and begin recording numbers. “Yes, a state funeral. The Queen will attend, and there will be an open casket down the Theed parade route.”
“And everyone will think I’m dead, and grieve for me as though I’ve passed on,” Padmé says bitterly.
“Er … that’s the general idea, yes,” you say, confused.
“My parents, Obi-Wan!” she exclaims. “Do you have any idea how much this is going to devastate them? No, I suppose you wouldn’t, you’ve never had parents to mourn you. Pardon me, I momentarily forgot.” Padmé fixes you with an imperious glare.
You can’t resist finally snapping a little. “Padmé, I’ve lost my family too. The Jedi may not seem to you like any sort of family, but to me, they were. And aside from Yoda, they’re all gone now. Do you not think I’m having just a little trouble dealing with that?”
“Why would you?” Padmé counters. “You Jedi are all about releasing emotion into the Force, never acknowledging fear, living like mindless automatons. Why would you consider them your family? Attachment was against your Code, after all.”
“Against the Code, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t routinely break that part of it!” Your voice is rising, and you can feel your temper going up with it. “I was attached to Qui-Gon, and he to me! And should you require further proof that some Jedi maintained attachments, you need only look over there, to those bassinets!”
“What’s the point?” she snaps. “You’re taking them away from me, which only serves to reinforce your belief in the principle of non-attachment. So forgive me if I see those words as rather hollow coming from you.”
“Padmé, it was not my decision! Yoda proposed it at the meeting, and I told you I would’ve liked you to be there, but –”
“But you went along with it!” Padmé is shouting now. “You didn’t raise a word of objection!”
“Only because I had no choice!” you roar back. “What am I supposed to do, go against 800 years’ worth of knowledge and wisdom?”
“There’s a big difference between knowledge and wisdom, Obi-Wan! I would think you of all people could understand that! If I were –”
She is interrupted by two loud cries from the other side of the room, and it is only then that you realize how loudly you’ve been fighting. The twins, obviously affected by the clashing currents of stress in the room, are squalling and shifting uncomfortably. You drop the scanner and hurry over to them, placing a hand on each and rubbing their backs gently.
“Shh, Luke, Leia. It’s all right.”
A soft “Oh!” of surprise from behind you causes you to turn and see Padmé, staring at two wet spots on her nightgown at chest level. She looks back up at you, face flaming. “Um … are the babies hungry?”
“I’m not sure,” you reply honestly, scooping Luke into your arms and rocking him while simultaneously trying to comfort his sister. “They last ate about an hour ago. Has your milk come in?”
“I think so. I’m … I’m, um, leaking a little.”
The previous hostilities seem to have evaporated for the moment as you carry Luke over to the bed. It intrigues you that the babies seem to have this power to bring you together, make you cooperate, even though moments before you were having a furious argument. It’s one more reason you wish the twins could stay with Padmé and yourself – if only to smooth relations between the both of you.
Seconds later you berate yourself for how terribly selfish that sounds.
Padmé lies back on the bed and props herself up with a pillow. The nightgowns issued by the Polis Massa medical centre are clearly not designed for nursing mothers – they have no buttons down the front, and so Padmé has to lift the garment over her head to gain access to the necessary area. You both blush, and though you try simultaneously to hand Luke over to her and avert your eyes, it doesn’t quite work, and you’re forced to glance at her for a second to make sure the baby is positioned correctly.
What you see makes your eyes go so wide they’re liable to pop right out of your head.
“Don’t say it,” Padmé grumbles, accepting her son and arranging him on her lap. “I know, they’re huge. I look like I’m about to star in a cheap HoloNet sex vid.”
You cough your voice back to life. “Er – n-no, they look … erm, wonderful.”
“Seeing as you’re a member of the opposite sex, I can’t say I’m surprised you think so,” she retorts, inserting two fingers into Luke’s mouth in an attempt to get him to latch.
“Padmé, it was a compliment,” you sigh. “It was not motivated in any way, shape or form by my gender. I promise you.”
“Not on a conscious level, at any rate,” Padme agrees. A significant glance downwards. “Unconsciously, however …”
You follow her gaze and suddenly it’s your turn to blush as you turn quickly away to release some of that latent arousal into the Force. How in the galaxy did that happen?
Your face flaming, you stride over to the opposite end of the room to recover some of your lost dignity, under the pretext of comforting the still-squalling Leia. Padmé, chuckling in spite of herself, finally manages the correct latching position with Luke and his contented suckling noises fill the air.
“I don’t know why I’m even bothering,” she mutters, suddenly sullen again. “I should just be letting my milk dry up instead of trying to increase my supply. The holobooks say it’s more painful if you encourage the baby to nurse first.”
“There’s a real nutritional benefit, though, isn’t there?” you ask as you hoist Leia into your arms. “Babies do much better if they’re fed from their mother’s breast.”
Padmé eyes you suspiciously. “How would you know?”
“The babies at the Jedi Temple’s crèche,” you explain. “The volunteers were always taught that we should give them the high-nutrient formula, because they were missing out on some of the good nutrition from their mothers.”
Her look darkens. “And whose fault is that, precisely?”
You sigh again, and make no reply. You’re sick of going around and around in this argument with her. It’s very difficult for a civilian to understand the culture present among Jedi, and you know that, but Padmé had previously been a vocal supporter of the Order and its commitment to peaceful negotiations before declaring war. Her viewpoint has apparently changed, but your longing for the only family you’ve ever known has not. You wish there was some way to impress that upon her.
Be gentle with her, she’s under a lot of stress at the moment.
But so are you, after all. You’re sure not going to remind Padmé of that, though.
“Obi-Wan, I need to ask you something,” Padmé says after a moment.
Your shoulders tense. You can sense her intentions.
“Ever since the twins were born, ever since I woke up, no mention has been made of Anakin,” she continues. “Not a word has been said, not by you, not by Bail, not by Yoda, about where he is. You know by now … you know that we’re married, I suppose, and I just want to know … I just need to know … what’s become of him. Where he is. I want him to meet his children one last time before they’re packed off to other families, if that’s possible. Please, Obi-Wan. Tell me.”
You grip the side of Leia’s bassinette so hard that the knuckles of your right hand begin to turn white. Leia squawks lightly as she feels your left hand squeezing her. You knew this question would come, and you wish you could have been preemptive and told Padmé right away, but as with the twins’ removal, your courage failed you and you delayed coming up with an appropriate way to broach the subject. You didn’t want her to hate you. Hate … even thinking of the word causes you to shiver.
Cowardice, utter cowardice, you berate yourself.
“Obi-Wan?” Padmé says.
“I …” You take a deep breath, moisten your lips. “After he Force-choked you … I was forced to fight him. I didn’t want to, but he goaded me into it. Accused me of stealing you away … turning you against him. He attacked me. We moved up and down the mining collectors, neither of us could gain the advantage. We were extraordinarily well-matched. Well, of course; I can’t even begin to count the number of times we’d sparred over the years. I knew his fighting style better than I knew my own.”
She is absorbing all this without judgment or comment, continuing to feed Luke, waiting for you to go on.
“We … we floated along a lava river on a couple of droids, and I spotted a bank and leapt onto it, thinking I could get the advantage.” Your voice is becoming mechanical, dull; it is the only way you can cope with having to recount this tale. “He decided he would … come after me, even though the move was a preposterously dangerous one. I – I had no choice, Padmé. I cut – I cut him, I cut – his legs and his arm, and –”
You squeeze Leia, wishing you could be almost anywhere else. Wishing you needn’t speak the words that come next.
“I – I as good as killed him, Padmé.” Your voice cracks, and unwillingly, your eyes fill with tears. “He … caught on fire. I watched him burn alive …”
She looks unspeakably horrified. Just as you’d thought she would.
“And he – died?” she chokes out.
“I’m almost sure of it,” you reply in a voice as raw and ragged as Anakin’s wounds had been. Now that you have permitted it to enter your mind, the image of your former Padawan screaming, his head on fire, yelling out that he hates you, will not leave.
Wordlessly, Padmé unlatches Luke from her breast, gesturing for you to take him. You set Leia down and accept the child, automatically hoisting him to your shoulder for a burp.
Padmé blinks once or twice, runs a hand lightly over her eyes, then lies down and faces the wall. She speaks no more.