nrgburst: (anidala)
[personal profile] nrgburst
Title: A Third Path
Fandom: Star Wars: Prequel Trilogy
Characters: Anakin Skywalker/Padme Amidala (Padme-centric)
Rating/Warning: M/non-explicit sex
Word Count: 2323
Summary: AU fix-it of sorts diverging from canon right at the end of AotC. (Sometimes consequences are blessings in disguise.)



Padmé had always imagined she’d marry an older man, somebody wiser and steadier with complementary views and ambitions. After all, fortifying political alliances through family connections is both efficient and effective.

In hindsight, maybe she’d considered things too sensibly.

Perhaps it’s the way he looks at her so fervently. Or just that he’s more handsome than any Jedi ought to be in those rough brown robes. But the bolt of instant attraction leaves her stunned, nerves ablaze and senses tingling even as she reels in the knowledge that she recognizes him.

Making a statement sometimes tricks the brain into believing, she reminds herself belatedly, flustered by the intensity of her inappropriate reaction. “You’ll always be that little boy I knew on Tatooine,” she manages, although the flush in her cheeks is too late to stop.

Still, she turns away abruptly. She’s too rational to be distracted by something as silly as physical attraction. At the very least, she’s guarded now against whatever had prompted that response.



Or so she tells herself.



But once they’re on their own it grows perniciously, resisting all her attempts at stifling or denial.

An affair with her young, government assigned Jedi bodyguard would make for scandal, one her career might not survive. And he’s spent years learning to control power of a very different sort, one that requires a commitment to detachment and celibacy. Besides, he’s too proud, too rash, and his infatuation with her is almost frightening in its intensity.

But oh, how she aches. She’s so used to polite masks and slippery half-truths, loyalties that shift from bill to bill and agendas behind every conversation. Whereas Anakin knows nothing of artifice and is loyal to a fault, speaking only from a genuine desire to connect. Thinking of him as a boy doesn’t help either: the young slave who’d risked his life to help stranded strangers is still at the core of the man beside her now. Master Qui-gon had trusted in his brash confidence because of the prophetic nature of Anakin’s dreams.



And he’s been dreaming of her.


She’s never believed in destiny. She believes in innovation and hard work, in goals and commitment and cooperation laying the framework for the future. And yet she can’t deny the things she’s seen the Jedi do, how he’d consistently dreamed of his mother’s torment despite being worlds away.



Can’t deny that she wants him desperately despite the long list of reasons she shouldn’t.



And now they are here, on the other side of certain death, with the metallic tap of his new fingertips on the controls a stark reminder of how easily lives and chances can be lost, though he says nothing as he pilots.



He won’t hold her to words and kisses given in desperation, although she can see the tension in his shoulders, the set of his mouth, the hope burning in his eyes.


And she can no longer bear to resist offering love and comfort the way she wants to; the solace he craves.



So once he makes the jump to hyperspace, she reaches over and chooses unwisely.





To her surprise, he pulls back while they’re kissing. But what makes her eyes fly open with shock are the words he utters.

“Marry me, Padmé.”

“…What?

“You know that I’ve loved you from the moment I met you. Please. Marry me.”


She’s speechless for a minute, searching his eyes, still panting and breathless. “Ani… I love you too, with all my heart. But marriage is a huge commitment. Most couples-”

“What? Date? So I’ll swing by the Senate to pick you up between Jedi missions? While the galaxy goes to war?”

She considers, trying to ignore the traitorous demands of both her body and heart. “Well, we don’t know if the Separatists will officially declare war-”

His mouth falls open, aghast. “You’re stalling like a politician!”

She gives him an irritated look. His assessment is completely accurate, but it’s hardly kindly meant. “I am a politician!”

“And this is our relationship, not some bill about raising taxes or ceding territory!”

She exhales, at a loss on how to placate him without risky concessions. There’s no plausible scenario she can posit between them besides the secret one he’d suggested back on Naboo, and marriage is far easier to trace than stolen kisses.

But he’s not done pleading his case. “We’re risking everything for a reason. And I don’t want to let go of someone who loves me. Not again.” He takes hold of her hands. He has that feverish look in his eye again, the one that totally unnerves her. “I want to have every right to love you, body and soul, even if it’s only in secret. That way if I’m brought before the Council for breaking the code…”

He tilts his head and raises his brows in silent appeal, and she bites her lip. She can see how a marriage certificate would offer him certain legal and financial protections on Coruscant if the worst truly came to pass, would make the optics easier to spin if scandal broke.

She sighs and smiles ruefully. “Since when did you get so good at diplomatic negotiations?”

He grins. “So that’s a yes?”


She can’t help laughing, pulling him back down for a kiss. “Yes.





Obtaining the marriage license is easy on Naboo’s well-organized government site, and she sends out a request to a friend in the Lake Country. Judge Harmon will be discreet, and the staff at the villa they’d stayed at already know their preferences and are wonderfully unobtrusive.


So they steal a couple of days, loving and laughing and dreaming and loving some more. She wants to memorize the way he tastes and smells, the way he feels inside her and on top of her and under her hands. How he looks at her like she’s a goddess and worships her with his mouth and hands, gasping her name like a litany when he’s a hairsbreadth from ecstasy.

This may be their only chance for months, so they spend the hours focused devoutly on each other.


And yet it surprises her to see how Anakin can completely compartmentalize the specter of a future spent mostly apart and the trauma he’s just endured. Whereas with each passing hour she thinks increasingly of the duties that loom, finds it harder to ignore the persistent blink of messages on the comm unit.

“How can you do that?”

“Do what?”

Not worry. Surely you should report in. Obi-Wan must be worried about how you’re taking things.”

Anakin shrugs, running his fingers lightly over her skin, reveling in the freedom he has to touch her at last. “It’s only logical that I escort you back to Coruscant after you’ve spoken with your Queen. I don’t foresee an issue. Whereas if I call my master in this emotional state, Obi-Wan will know instantly that you’ve put me out of my misery.”

She quirks her lips at that and sighs. If only he weren’t so transparent. But then he wouldn’t be Anakin, she reminds herself.

“Besides, I’m focused on enjoying the very beautiful now, as a Jedi is supposed to,” he continues, “Past and future matter not, only the present,” he croaks, and she laughs in disbelief.

“Ani!”

“Aw, come on. Every youngling can recite full passages just as Master Yoda taught us. A mark of respect it is,” he continues, folding his hands in credible imitation.

She smacks playfully at his chest. “You deserve all the trouble you’re going to get! I bet he can sense your insolence through your Force.”

Anakin tilts his head and lifts a brow, grinning cockily. “That would be a stretch for even his considerable mastery. We can only sense strong emotions over distance, like pain or death.”

That makes him frown slightly and pause, and she stills, reaching out automatically to comfort and listen. He still hasn’t fully processed his mother’s death and his actions in the wake of that. It had been horrifying enough for her to help bathe and dress Shmi’s body for burial- for Anakin to dream the things that had been done to her for weeks, and then arrive too late… But he tilts his head and shrugs, as if deliberately pushing those difficult emotions aside. “Actually, there’s one person whose duty it is to be tuned into my thoughts and feelings.”

She gives him a worried look before understanding dawns. “Obi-Wan?”

“He’s already aware of how much I think about you- he was not pleased that I was given this assignment. And I haven’t tried to control my emotions since you agreed to marry me,” he confesses.

She inhales uneasily. “But... you said we could keep this a secret. That you could still have a future as a Jedi if we were careful.”

He lifts a shoulder. “He might not have sensed a thing. I’m just saying there’s a chance he already knows about our…official attachment.”

She meets his eyes, dismayed. “Oh Anakin…”

He shakes his head and takes her hands. “Don’t worry. We’re married, and I don’t regret that for a moment. I wouldn’t be the first Padawan to leave the ranks, if it really came down to it.”

Something in the way he says that makes her search his eyes. “But how can you be sure? You’ve dedicated half your life to the Jedi. To just throw all of that away…” she hesitates before continuing cautiously. “Don’t you want to fully understand this power you were born with?”

“I have enough control over it that they trusted me on my own with you,” he points out. He frowns. “The masters warn us about how easy it is to slip over to the Dark Side by giving in to emotion.”

“And that doesn’t worry you? You’re very… passionate,” she says, flushing a little as she recalls how glorious the past couple of days have been.

“Is that a complaint?” he asks, chuckling, and she rolls her eyes and kisses him.

“Hardly. I just want to make sure you’re looking at this responsibly. The things you can do…”

He grins. “You think I’ll become a power hungry Sith like Dooku because I’m so in love with you?”

She gives him an exasperated look. “Of course not. I just don’t know if you’re really ready to give up something you’ve given your whole self over to for so long. It’s not exactly like giving up a work/study program to pursue dreams of being an artist.”

He meets her eyes and pulls her close, kissing her in a way that makes it hard to do anything but feel. “Maybe I’m pursuing a different sort of dream,” he murmurs.

He’s purposely distracting her, but she doesn’t resist.

Really, they should just make the most of the time they have.






Anakin meditates for much of the return journey to Coruscant, readying himself to display a less vibrant emotional state.

Padmé catches up on correspondence and reports at the same time, rather rueful over the amount of work she has. But she’s pleased by the progress she makes while studious and undistracted, combating her fatigue with Jawa juice and stubbornly ignoring the soreness she feels. They need to be ready to resume their lives as they had left them, keeping those stolen hours and vows close until the next chance for a rendezvous.


But it’s hard not to worry when they spot several Masters of the Jedi Council waiting on the landing pad.

“Relax. Your anxiety makes it harder for me to focus. It’s possible they’re simply here to greet us,” Anakin says quietly while he powers down the engines.

She turns, surprised. “And here I thought years of practice had taught me how to mask my reactions.”

He glances at her. “They have. You politicians are mostly impenetrable. But I’m very in tune with you now that we’ve...”

She flushes with startled realization. “Oh. I thought that was only during.”

He gives her a chagrined look. “Not just legally binding for me."

She gulps and exhales, ruthlessly forcing her mind back to the script they’d rehearsed.

“I’m ready. Are you?”

He smiles- just the right touch of friendly and helpful, and her confidence swells.


They can do this. And she has so much to work to do that missing him might not be so bad.


Padmé gives Captain Typho and Dormé a warm smile as soon as she steps off the ship, although it falters when she sees how grim and serious the Jedi masters look.

“Master Yoda, Master Obi-Wan, Master Windu. I must thank you again for unmasking this conspiracy against the Republic and providing me such a dedicated bodyguard. I owe him, and therefore the Order, my life.”

Yoda nods formally. “The duty of the Jedi it is.”

Master Windu pins Anakin with a look. “Padawan Skywalker. Your presence is immediately required before the Council”

Anakin eyes Obi-Wan pensively before he bows his head. “Of course.”

Padmé hesitates, torn. Obi-Wan looks pained, and that hardly bodes well for Anakin.

Anakin turns to her smoothly, his face inscrutably calm. “Milady, it was an honor to serve you. I hope we meet again, under more favorable circumstances.”

She smiles and inclines her head, taking his lead. “Likewise. Thank you, Anakin. …May the Force be with you.”

That surprises him, and he gives her a ghost of a smile before bowing.


She steps forward to greet her staff and fellow Senators properly, struggling against the impulse to look back when the Jedi close ranks around Anakin, moving as one to their transport.



She’s always hated suspense.



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