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The Bargain

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Chapter One: The Reunion

Padmé awoke to her body hurting. A headache pounded in her temples, behind her eyes, and on the back of her head. Her body felt stiff and ached from having not moved in a while. She slowly started to move her limbs, but found that they reacted sluggish. She felt heavy, even her eyelids. It took effort to open them, and she only managed to open them a small amount.

She sluggishly glanced around her surroundings. She was laying on her side, and she was in a small room, possibly a closet. Only now did she start to feel the cold metal under her. The room had some metal shelving against two walls, but the shelves were empty. The room was dimly lit by a red light in the ceiling. She glanced down and noticed she was wearing a grey flight jumpsuit. Had she been piloting a ship?

Padmé again tested her limbs and found that her arms were bound behind her back. She pulled at the constraints, but found her arms weak. She closed her eyes and took deep breaths. She needed to clear her head. She must have been drugged. She tried to think back to what happened before she awoke, but found her headache kept her from concentrating too much.

She felt the footsteps vibrating through the floor before she heard them. Two or three people were walking closer to her. The steps stopped at what Padmé guessed was the door, which was located behind her. There was a swishing noise and Padmé could feel the air brush against her hair as the door opened. A bright light filled the room. Though Padmé wasn't looking directly at the light, it still hurt her eyes. She squeezed them shut.

None of the individuals said anything. But she heard the steps entering the room and felt the hands grab her. She was harshly dragged up. She then noticed there was some sort of restraints on her legs. Each ankle had a large binder on and a cable connected the two. It was long enough that Padmé would be able to walk, but she would only be able to take small steps. She wouldn't be able to run.

Her captors dragged her along a short hallway into a larger room. They released her arms and Padmé fell on to her knees. Her headache had gotten worse from the sudden movement, and her eyes were still blurry as they struggled to adjust to the bright lights. From what she could see she could tell she was in a ship of sorts. A smaller one. Ahead of her was the loading ramp. The ramp was down, but there wasn't much to tell where it lead to. All she could see was smooth gray metal floor stretching out.

Padmé turned her head as she thought one of her captors had said something. Yet then something was pulled over her head. She panicked a bit. She found her breathing quickly escalated. Then she realized some sort of white cloth bag had been placed over her head. It pooled around her shoulders making it so she couldn't see down to her feet. Her breathing slowed, but her the sense of panic did not.

The hands grabbed her again on the arms. They pulled her up. This time she got her feet under her. She staggered forward as she was taken down the loading ramp. She was having a hard time getting a proper pace down. Her legs still felt weak. She herself still felt dizzy. She easily tripped due to the cable connecting her legs. However her captors never slowed. They just kept pulling her along, even if it was more dragging than pulling.

Padmé tried to keep a mental map of where they were leading her. If she could escape then she could find her way back. If not back to the ship she was on earlier, then surely to the hangar it was kept in. Yet she quickly found herself lost. For one her constant tripping had disoriented her. Secondly, they were walking quite a bit.

They took several turns and two lifts. In the lifts her captors let her sag down onto her knees. Their grips were a bit looser, but she knew there was no point in trying to break free in the lift. In truth, Padmé enjoyed the small rests the lifts provided. It allowed her to catch her breath and gave her body a chance to collect itself.

Yet again the hands would dig into her arms and drag her on. There was no talking amongst her captors. She knew there were more than just the two dragging her. At least one in front and possibly another behind her. Suddenly they stopped. She heard the sound of someone typing into a keypad and the sound of a door opening.

They dragged her into the room a short distance before they released her. She instantly sagged down to her knees. She felt hands grab at her hand restraints. There was clicking noise, and her hands came free. It was short lived before her arms were forcibly crossed tightly across her back. Then something was pulled over her head and across her chest. It was made of heavy fabric. It was quickly pulled in tight. It locked her arms uncomfortably behind her. She found it hard to breath.

Next they undid the cable connecting her ankle binders. However, they didn't undo the binders. Her ankles instead were pushed together. She heard the clicking sound as the ankle binders were locked together. She then heard a second clicking sound. Someone pushed against her ankles and she felt a sharp tug. The binders had been secured to something on the floor.

Then she heard the footsteps walk away from her heading the way she had come in. The door shut. She stayed quiet and still, but there was no other sounds. She was alone. She shifted her knees so she could handle her weight better. Padmé took a mental stock of her current situation. Her arms were pinned behind her back. Her ankles bound together and locked to the floor. The white bag still hung on her head.

First she would need to get the bag off. She didn't recall them tying it it on, so it should be simple to wiggle it off. As she thought of the best way to do that, she heard a door open. It wasn't the door behind her. The one she had come through. The one her captors had left from. It was in the other direction, from in front of her. She heard steps approaching. She could make out it was only person.

The feet suddenly stopped right in front of her. Then she felt someone grabbing at the bag and it was ripped off. Padmé blinked as her eyes adjusted.

"Hello, my love," a deep voice said.

Padmé flinched back, but it only made the binders dig into her. She almost lost her balance, but she regained herself. She could feel the hatred burning inside of her.

"You!" she spat. Only now did she get a good look at him. Standing in front of her was her husband. Her heart skipped a beat. He was mostly as she remembered him. Tall, long dark blonde hair, a scar above his right eye. He no longer wore the Jedi robes. He wore all black well tailored clothes. One hand was gloved in black leather, while the other was free. His lightsaber was clipped to his belt.

"Is that how you welcome your husband?" he said. He crouched down and grabbed her chin with his mechanical hand. Padmé tried to flinch away, but his fingers only dug in tighter.

"Let go of me!" she said between clenched teeth. He chuckled. Her rage and anger boiled inside of her. She wasn't going to back down. She wasn't going to cower. She stared right into him. The biggest physical change in him was his eyes. They were no longer the piercing blue they had once been, but an almost glowing yellow with a red tinge next to the pupil.

"I've missed you, my wife," he said in a low amused and sensual voice. In a quick movement, almost too fast for Padmé to track, his lips were against hers. He pressed violently into her. She took a shocked breath through her nose, thankfully not parting her lips for him. Her gut reaction was to strike him, but her arms only pulled against their restraints. So she finally opened her mouth and bit onto his lips, hard.

He pulled back. Blood escaped a wound on his mouth. But he only smiled. He brought up his flesh hand and wiped away the blood.

"You know for attacking me, I could have you executed," he said. The amusement had not once left his voice.

"Then do it!" she hissed at him. Again he moved too fast for her to follow. He moved to grab her hair at the base of her neck. He pulled it back and she let out a small yelp.

"You forget your place, my wife," he snarled. For the first anger and darkness lashed into his words. His true colors coming out. "Your place is by my side. You belong to meEverything you are belongs to me." His voice was low this time, more calm. "And I would never let anything come to harm you."

Except you, she thought to herself. She took no solace in his words. Perhaps five years ago she might had found them comforting. A sweet promise from her love. But now they seemed like a threat.

He let go of her hair and stood up. She finally got a look at the room. The room was dimly lit. It was a sparse empty rectangle made of dark metal. There was only chair about a meter in front of her. Behind the chair was a door. There was him and her, and that was it. She shifted once again testing the restraints. They held.

Her husband paced over to the chair. He turned and looked at her. His body language read that he was relaxed and at ease. Once again the smile played across his face. That sadist, she thought, He's enjoying this.

"It's time for you to be where you belong, with me," he said.

"Never!" she shouted. "You can keep me locked up here, but don't you think I'll ever love you again. Don't you think I'll ever let you touch me again."

He laughed. "Didn't I just do that?" he said. She struggled against her restraints again. She would attack the man if she could. She would quickly pull the trigger to a blaster aimed as his heart. She would slash his throat if given a knife.

"As much as I enjoy seeing you like that," he purred. Padmé believed he did get off on this. "I'd much rather have a willing wife."

"Tch," she said, but otherwise did not respond to his goading.

"I understand this new situation is a bit of an adjustment," he said. His eyes were half lidded as he looked down on her. "I'll give you some time to rest. Think it over." He turned and walked away to the door beyond the chair. The door swished open. He paused, turned and look at her. A smile crept across his lips before the door slid shut.

There was scream building inside of her throat. She wanted to let it lose, but she swallowed it down instead. She imagined he was still lurking behind the door or watching her through some hidden holocameras. She wasn't going to give him any pleasure of her anger. Instead she took a few deep breaths through her nose.

She sank down, allowing her body to rest on her lower legs. It wasn't comfortable. Already she could tell the circulation would be cut to her lower legs and feet. Yet with her ankles locked together and to the floor, there weren't many comfortable positions she could take. She did think about allowing herself to fall over on to her side. While it would get her weight off her legs, it would make her slow to get up. So she kept in her current position.

First she let her mind wander about how to free herself. She tested the restraints on her arms. The tight heavy materials felt like it was laced with durasteel. However they had tightened, it had been done in the back. Her arms were successfully pinned against her back. There was no weakness in the ankle binders either. She craned her neck over her shoulder, trying to get the best look at them. She could tell they were thick durasteel as well. Even if she had her arms free, she didn't know how she'd get her legs free without any tools.

She glanced around the dark room. It looked like no other cell she knew of. Even if it wasn't originally a cell, it currently was. She had no doubt he had taken extra precautions. She didn't notice any door controls by the door. She glanced into the corners to see if there any hidden cameras, but didn't spot any.

She let out a deep sigh. Her frustration and anger still rolled around in her. How could she let herself be caught? Truthfully she always figured it was a matter time before the two met again. One day her luck would run out. He'd outsmart her. She was hoping she'd have more time before that time came.

She closed her eyes and thought back to how this situation came to be.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: The Memory

Padmé's eyes were closed. She took deep even breaths. She was calm and content. She wouldn't allow herself to say happy. That word seemed to have been stolen from her five years ago. But at least she allowed herself to be content.

She laid in the small bed in the rented room. She could feel the warm body next to her. Her back against his front. His arm draped along her side and down her stomach. His body curled around hers. She could feel his deep rhythmic breathing of sleep. She kept her eyes closed and focused on that breathing.

Yet the peace was short lived. A klaxon alarm blared through the space station. Padmé jolted up at once. She wasted no time throwing the covers off of her and dashing to the small portview window of her room. Nearby in space floated a star destroyer. TIE fighters were just emerging and swarming toward the station.

She cursed to herself. She grabbed her clothes off the floor and quickly got dressed. She looked over at the figure in the bed, who was now quickly scrambling out of it. He also got dressed. At one point the two glanced at each other at the same time. They both paused, briefly. He gave her nod before the two went back to work.

Rion Jocosal was a human pilot who had served for the Alderaanian Navy when Padmé met him four years ago. He had dark tan skin and long black hair, which usually he wore tied back. He currently had some stubble growing along his face as he hadn't shaved recently. Rion had already slipped into his jumpsuit and was pulling on his boots.

Padmé had finished getting dressed into simple tight pants, shirt, and boots. She ran over to the small desk in the room. A variety of datapads and small holoprojectors laid scattered about. With a sweep of her arm, she swept them all into a bag she picked up off the floor. She turned and saw Rion had finished getting dressed. He had picked up the two blasters on the floor. He threw her one before the two left the room and into the hallway.

Ryx Station shuddered from the attacks of the fighters outside. The klaxon alarm was still blaring and red lights strobed through the hallway. A few other individuals, humans, aliens, and droids, were running through the corridors of the space station along with Padmé and Rion. In the distance Padmé could make out the sounds of blasters.

Yet she didn't falter or look back. She kept her pace running ahead. She did her best to move past those running slower without knocking them over or out of the way. But she knew time was essential. She found the staircase and took the stairs down two at a time. She did not dare to take the lifts in case power was cut to them. After a few flights of stairs she exited the stairwell into another corridor with Rion right behind her.

The corridor here was bustling with activity. Droids and individuals dashed around, but luckily all in the same direction Padmé was headed- towards the hangar. Upon entering the hangar she made her way towards the large ship dock. The ship was moored securely to the station with strong cables on its side. Below the ship, space stretched.

The ship was a CR90 Corvette named the Helios Eclipse. It had been gifted to Padmé, complete with its pilot Rion and crew, from her longtime friend Senator Organa of Alderaan. Padmé and Rion ran up to the loading ramp. A blue female Twi'lek was waiting at the entrance into the ship.

"You're here!" she shouted seeing Padmé and Rion. "Everyone else already made it. You two are the last." The Twi'lek let the two pass before she hit the panels on the loading ramp. The cables holding the ship snapped free and started to coil back into the station's hangar. The Twi'lek went into the ship closing the outside door behind her.

Padmé and Rion continued to the small bridge. Already Rion's crew had everything ready. With the mooring cables free, the ship started to descend into space below them. Padmé positioned herself so she stood directly behind the pilot's chair. She craned her neck up towards the space station as the ship dropped.

Ryx Station was a large space station floating near the crossroads of the Corellian Trade Spine hyperlane and the Sanctuary Pipeline hyperlane. It was modge podge of large ships and stations melded together. It looked more like a hunk of trash than a proper station. However several hundred people occupied the station. It was generally used as a fueling station, but also sported a hotspot for trade.

The proximity to the two hyperspace lanes had made it an ideal place for the Helios Eclipse to stop and refuel. Padmé and Rion had gotten a room to enjoy to some time off the ship. Luckily they managed to refuel and restock the ship before their early departure.

Padmé glanced up through the viewport. The upper part of the station was under heavy fire from various TIE fighters that were swarming the station. Small explosions were seen every few seconds. The Helios was not the only ship leaving Ryx Station. The airspace around the station was filled with fleeing ships. Some were being targeted by the TIE fighters in their attempts to flee.

Someone in the bridge shouted they had the coordinates for hyperspace ready, they just needed to get in position. Rion was piloting the ship lower towards the relatively empty space below them and away from the station. Padmé's eyes were fixed on the station above. Padmé could just make out the star destroyer beyond the station. Suddenly three more star destroyers jumped out of hyperspace. Padmé's breath catch her throat. She knew the middle destroyer was the Devastator.

She knew that was his flagship, and that he would be on it. A sharp chill washed over her. It was the closest she had been to her husband in a long time. She wondered if he stood on the bridge of his ship looking at the Helios as she looked a the Devastator. Yet then the Helios jumped into hyperspace. The familiar blue lines streaked across the viewport as the star destroyers disappeared.

There was a sense of relief from the crew. Padmé quietly left the cockpit and made her way to her private bunk. It was small containing not much else besides a bed and table built into the wall with a small bench to the side. Some drawers built into the other wall were used for storage. She sat on her bed and put her bag and blaster down beside her.

While she did feel relieved to have escaped from the Imperials, to have escaped from him, she was not happy. Crushing guilt washed over her. It was a heavy weight pushing down on her. Tears were welling up in her eyes. She thought about Ryx Station and all the innocents on board as they were gunned down by troopers or TIE fighters all because of her. All because she had stopped at the station.

Every place the Helios Eclipse stopped at was at risk, she knew. They had to stop the ship. They had to refuel and restock supplies. They couldn't last indefinitely in space. Despite knowing the risks, it didn't make it any easier for her. To feel the weight of innocent lives lost bearing down on her.

She opened a drawer in the wall. It was filled with various holoprojectors, datapads, commlinks, and various other miscellaneous devices. She pulled out a holoprojector that was on top and placed it on the table. She flipped it on and she was met with an image of her own face set in a square frame with text above and below it. The Imperial insignia was stamped in the top right corner. It was the bounty poster for her.

It read: Padmé Amidala. Rebel. High-Treason. Terrorist. Wanted Alive-Only. Two Million Credits. By order of the Emperor Darth Vader.

Padmé sighed as turned it off and threw the holoprojector back into the open drawer. She let herself fall back onto the bed. She rolled over to look at the blue streaking lights of hyperspace. Her mind went back to the few seconds of seeing the Devastator and the cold chill that had run over of her. It had been him, she knew it. She prayed that he showed some mercy to innocents of Ryx Station who committed no crime except being in the same spot she was. However, her husband was no longer a merciful man.

Five years ago the Republic and the Jedi Order fell, and Palpatine rose as the emperor of the new Galactic Empire. He named his second in command as Darth Vader, previously known as the Jedi Anakin Skywalker. Skywalker was the celebrated Hero With No Fear and loved by the people. He was the one true Jedi who stayed loyal to the Republic and to the Empire after the Jedi attempted to overthrow the Republic. Skywalker shed his Jedi name and took up the mantle of Darth Vader. He was ruthless in establishing the Empire's rule. Those who defied the Empire were met with swift and unforgiving violence.

Padmé last saw her husband the night he stopped being Anakin Skywalker. The night he personally led his troops to destroy the Jedi Temple and killed all within it. He had come to her that night as she stood on her balcony crying and fearing for the worst for her husband. The Jedi Temple burned in flames in the distance. He held her in her arms, promising everything was going to be better. Then he left. Imperial history says that the first act of Darth Vader was to go to Mustafar and destroy all the Separatist leaders, single handedly ending the war.

The next night after Anakin left, Padmé left to go to Mustafar. Obi-Wan had come to her. Told her terrible things. Told her he may have to kill Anakin. She had to make sure Anakin was safe. Yet she never made it to Mustafar. As she exited hyperspace above the planet a sudden pain erupted through her. She blacked out. She was in and out of consciousness for two months. By the time she fully came to, she was in hiding with Obi-Wan, who had been hiding on her ship. By then the truth was laid horribly bare about what Anakin had become.

One year after the fall of the Republic, Padmé decided to take action. She became a rebel. She used her name and fame as the former Queen and Senator of Naboo. She broadcasted secret speeches across the galaxy preaching the ideas of a fair and just democracy. She gained supporters. Her crew grew. She came into contact with other rebel cells.

They were able to slice into top secret files of the Empire. They would broadcast the crimes of the empire on secret channels of the holonet. They showed the slavery, the genocide, and the torture that was happening in the name of the Empire that the proganada-filled state-run holonet would never run.

Then she just became a large thorn in the Empire's side. She attacked factories, mining operations, shipyards, and supply plants. She would have her slicers hack into officials' schedules and change important meeting times and places so treaties and trade deals would slow or be canceled all together. She would assist local planetside rebellions as she could by getting supplies and aid. While Vader became the symbol of the Empire, Padmé became the symbol of the Rebellion.

And Darth Vader was there. Each success Padmé won, Vader was often behind her to destroy her victories. Those caught listening or watching the secret broadcasts were taken away to never be seen again. A few killed on spot. Towns and cities Padmé helped were bombed, blasted from space by a star destroyer.

None of these crimes were reported to have happened from the Empire. No, it was all the rebels fault. The rebels were the terrorists blowing up towns and factories. It was the rebels fault for a shortage of fuel or clothing that had been rerouted from the civil sector to the military sector. The emperor was only trying to finally unify the galaxy and bring peace after the war.

Then a year ago Vader made his grab for power. He killed Palpatine and took the throne and the galaxy for himself. Overall the people liked this move. It was Darth Vader who had ended the Clone Wars. It was Darth Vader who traveled the galaxy in attempts to bring peace and get rid of the horrible terrorist rebels. Vader was a man of action. Palpatine had simply ruled from his luxurious palace.

Padmé had secretly hoped it would be better. There had to still be good in Anakin. Yet it wasn't to be. Darth Vader continued as he had before with a cruel and heavy grip on the galaxy.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: The Information

Two days after Ryx Station, Padmé sat in her bunk alone. She had watched some of the holonet footage about the station earlier. Of course of the state-run news said the station's destruction and loss of lives was due to rebels implanting bombs. The loyal Imperial navy had tried their best to stop the plot.

Vader himself had given a short speech. He lamented the loss of innocent lives. The emperor called for action for the people of the Empire to not support the rebels. To report any sightings of wanted or suspected rebels. To not donate or join their cause. Padmé turned the holonet off. She couldn't stand the man's lies.

She leaned back and stared at the ceiling. It had been five years since the birth of the Empire. Over those five years she had only come to hate the man she called her husband. Each crime he commited was a stab into her heart. She felt personally responsible for all of it. She had let Palpatine crawl to power. She hadn't seen the signs within Anakin. She had let him fall to the dark side and become Vader.

She rolled her head from side to side to stretch her neck before she bent back over to the small table which was covered in various datapads and holoprojectors. She turned on one of the datapads in front of her and started to go through it. They had received this intel ten days earlier, which had been via a collaboration with a few other cells. The data was extremely classified and high level. Privy only to Vader's high commanders and officers.

Padmé's rebel cell was the only remaining cell left from the collaboration. Two of the cells had been destroyed during the extraction of the data. The other two had been hunted down by Imperials. Their leaders had been publicly executed.

The intel was on Vader's newest weapons plan. Padmé moved through the images of new ion cannons, hyperdrives, cloaking devices, and fighters. Finally she came to the image she was looking for. It was a new type of star destroyer. It was called the Executor-class star dreadnought. It was 19,000 meters long, which was almost more ten times the size of the 1,600 meter long Imperial-class star destroyers. It boasted more than five thousand turbolasers and ion cannons.

The thought of such a ship was almost unimaginable to Padmé. Yet it didn't compare to the last weapon. It was simply named the "Ultimate Weapon." It was a moon-sized, deep-space mobile station designed to fire a single superlaser that could destroy a whole planet. These last two weapons alone created a pit inside Padmé's stomach.

Such military might was not needed. These things were not built to create a safe galaxy, but a galaxy based on fear. Padmé shuddered at the idea of one weapon being able to destroy a planet in a single shot. Worst yet, according to the intel both the projects were already being started.

Padmé knew that this was to be her next goal. She had to do whatever she could to stop both of these monstrosities from being finished. Her team was hunting down whatever information they could. Yet the Empire had made sure these new weapons were top secret. Yet Padmé knew there had to be clues somewhere. The cost alone for just the "Ultimate Weapon" was one trillion credits.

There had to be a money trail somewhere. The Empire was going to have to get resources to build it. Resources had to be to shipped. Padmé knew there was something somewhere that alluded to such big projects. All she had to do was find it.

Even though it had only been ten days since she got her hands on the intel, Padmé could not find a trace. The Empire had made sure their top-secret weapons were indeed a secret. The easiest way she assumed was to follow the metal. It was going to be the one material the Empire was going to need first and throughout the entire project. They had to mine all that ore somewhere. It had to be processed and shipped out. Somewhere in the galaxy the Empire had recently stepped up it's durasteel production.

Her team investigated all the known mining operations. They combed over production logs and shipments. They tracked the shipments of the metal to the factories. They could then track to see what the metal was used to make. The team looked for the obvious: a bunch of ore being shipped to one place, but never leaving. A bunch of ore being forged into durasteel sheets or beams, to be shipped off into one location. Yet they found nothing.

Five days later the Helios Eclipse sat quietly floating in space. Padmé, Rion, and nine other individuals sat around a conference table. Padmé called this her her Lucky Ten. They were her core group, her leaders of her rebel cell. The group was made up of a variety of people.

There was Abenia'sin, the former-slave Twi'lek, and Tadala a Rodian. There was an elderly human couple by the names of Aldo and Cloela Drest. Also there was a young, very arrogant, Arkanian scientist named Decimus Monteth. He had become horrified by the experimentation other Arkanian scientists had done on alien species to study genetic manipulation and cybernetic medical technology.

There was also a clone trooper that went by the name of Razer. He had suffered a bad head injury in battle prior to Order 66. He wasn't sure if his chip was just damaged or if his brain was, but he never followed the Jedi purge order. He fled the military shortly later. Padmé suspected he wasn't completely sane. There was a young but gifted human slicer by the name of Ven. Second to last there was a large, mid-age woman by the name of Posy. She wore a large patch-quilt jacket and spoke with a thick accent no one was able to quite place.

Their best lead on the metal to build the super weapons was from the last member. Ngodi was a Talz from Alcoz III. The planet was recently subjugated into slavery by the Empire. The majority of the Talz population was primitive and unaware of galactic civilization. The Empire enslaved the Talz to mine the mineral rich planet. The discovery of the planet was never listed on the Galactic Registry, in order to bypass Senate regulations regarding the treatment of primitive species. The planet was labeled off-limits, and any Talz spotted off planet the Empire offered a five-thousand-credit bounty dead or alive. Which meant there was at least one planet with mining operations the Empire was keeping secret.

They needed to get access to the Imperial records for that planet. What was being mined? How much? Where was it being sent to? Through networking through some less-than-savory means, Padmé's group had come in contact with some individuals who might be able to help. These individuals were junk and scrap dealers. They also doubled as small-time bounty hunters and had taken in a few Talz to collect on bounties.

They had been to the planet personally, which meant they could get through the Imperial blockade of the system. They could also get close to the planet, if not down to it. Padmé's rebel cell had contacted the group. They were setting up a meeting in four days time. The goal was to enlist their help, or if not move on to more drastic measures of simply overpowering them and taking their ships and clearance codes.

"Aye dun like it," the odd woman Posy said.

"I agree," Rion said. He sat to Padmé's immediate right. His chair was close enough to hers that their knees touched under the table.

"It's only been fifteen days," the Rodian said. "I think we need to give it more time. We've casted our information nets. Let's wait to see what they catch. I'm sure there are still places Ven hasn't tried slicing and hacking into yet." The Rodian nodded at the young girl who sat with her knees up to her chest in her chair.

"No," Padmé said a bit softly. "We can't just sit here. We tried that on Ryx Station."

"Which is why we should just stay put out here in empty space," Rion pleaded. "We've plenty of fuel and supplies. We can stay out here for a while."

"And ruin our chance with this group?" Padmé asked. "If we back down now, they might not agree to another meet up."

The blue female Twi'lek spoke up. "I'm with Padmé. If we don't go through with the meeting now, we might not get another chance."

The leaders of the rebel cell argued back and forth for another hour. Eventually Padmé's idea won out. They would proceed with the plan, at least as far as to see how well the meeting went. There was no plan to go rushing off to Alcoz III after the meeting. It was the stipulation Rion had enforced upon finally agreeing with this plan. After the meetup, the group would then regroup and think carefully about the next step.

The meeting team would be the old human Aldo and Tadala the Rodian. The Helios Eclipse had a small beat up spaceship in its hangar the two were going to use to rendezvous with the junkers. The hangar also held a few more small ships. One of which was a small personal fighter scraped together from old Clone fighters. Padmé suited up in a gray flight suit and jumped into the small fighter. The meeting team had left about thirty minutes prior, and now Padmé took the fighter out of the hangar.

Immediately her com went off. Rion's voice came through, a bit panicked. "Padmé! What are you doing?"

"I'm going on standby," she explained calmly. "I'll be able to get closer to the meet-up in this small ship than the Helios. If anything goes wrong, I can swoop in."

"That's not your job!" Rion shouted. "We already have a team waiting by for back up."

"Then we'll have extra back-up," she said as turned off the com and her fighter sped away from the Helios. She didn't want to argue with Rion. He worried about her too much. But she felt so restless ever since Ryx Station. She knew she should have stayed on board, commanding the operation from the Helios. But she couldn't focus. Her body wouldn't would stay still. Her adrenaline was pumping. She had to get out and away.

Her speeder came upon the meet-up. The large freighter of the junkers was nothing more than a small white speck in the distance of space. Padmé couldn't make out her team's ship docked with it, but assumed it was there. She let her spaceship just float and tried to let her mind float as well.

She looked up at the stars. She knew her location and tried to find identifying stars and constellations. She was by no means a navigator, but she should be able to follow the stars at least towards the core of the galaxy. Suddenly a crackle was heard over the com. Then static. Then Aldo's voice came through, pained and harried. The junkers weren't willing to cooperate peacefully.

"Then we just go back to Plan B," Razer the clone said in a gruff voice over the com. "We take their ship by force."

Padmé grabbed the handles of the control and pushed her small fighter on. By the time she made it to the junker's ship, the rebel backup had already docked. Luckily the ship had four airlock docking bays. She brought her fighter up to one. Luckily it opened once she sent a signal to it.

She entered the ship. No one was waiting for her at the airlock. Hopefully this meant her rebels had secured the ship, or at least the bridge. If no one was there to open the airlock, then someone else must have let her in elsewhere. She brought up her blaster and made her way slowly into the ship.

She heard footsteps behind her. She turned and barely made out the figure before bolts were fired towards her. A flash of green blinded her, and she fell down. Her body was heavy and unable to move. The last thing she remembered before blacking out, was the sound of steps approaching her.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four: The Bargain

Now Padmé found herself in this cell. She had been betrayed by the junkers. Sold over to him. Her knees and legs ached. She wanted to just let her body fall over. She was getting tired. The metal binders around her ankles dug into her skin. Her feet were cold and numb from poor circulation. Her back and shoulders ached from the pull of her arms in their restraints. A few times her eyes drooped heavily down.

Then the small door in wall in front of her slid open. In walked that man. He looked the same as he had before. The nice all-black clothes. His brushed back hair. His lightsaber clipped to his belt. His hands were clasped behind his back as he walked over to her. His golden eyes were half-lidded and he had a small smile across his lips.

"Ah, my love," he said. "I hope you've used this time wisely to adjust to your new situation."

Padmé found a surge of adrenaline within her. She forced herself to sit up straight. She didn't respond to him. She instead just stared him down. He started to walk around her slowly.

"I have tired of our little game of cat and mouse," he said. He kept his voice soft and smooth. "Plus," he said. He came up beside her and leaned down. His mouth was next to her ear. "The mouse is already caught." She jerked her head away from him. He let out a small chuckle as he straightened up. He walked so he stood back in front of her.

"As much as I've enjoyed chasing you around the galaxy and cleaning up each of your . . . messes," he continued, "It's time to end this foolishness. Your place is here with me."

"As I've already said, your majesty," Padmé hissed the last words, "I will never be yours."

The chair still stood a meter away. He sat down in it. He leaned over placing his elbows at his legs. He clasped his hands together and stared at her. Then his horrible smile came across his face. "Perhaps a bit incentive is needed?" he asked.

Padmé scoffed. "What am I now? Some prostitute? There is absolutely nothing you have that would make me crawl into your bed." She thought to herself, Absolutely nothing that I'll allow you back into my heart. You killed that off already.

"Not even your freedom?" he mused. She paused at that. She couldn't help but contemplate it. What would she be willing to do if he would let her go? Would she go to bed with him if it meant she could leave? Could she even stand herself to let him touch her again? After what he done? After what he become?

"You'll let me go?" she asked in response to his earlier question already knowing the answer.

"No," he responded quickly and confidently. More of his games, Padmé thought. "Something I've learned since becoming Emperor is that everyone has a price. Everyone has a breaking point. I'm willing to bargain with you, Padmé. All you have to do is agree to be mine. Completely mine."

"You'll be disappointed," she growled, "I'm afraid I have no price."

The smile grew on his lips. "Let's see if that's true," he said darkly.

He turned to the wall to her right and waved his hand. Suddenly the wall slid back revealing a portioned off part of the room. A large upright table stood with various grisly looking instruments and wires coming out the sides. A human man was strapped on to the table with white bag over his head. Next to the table sat a tall silver table with tray on it, but from kneeling on the floor, Padmé could not make out what was on it. Behind the table stood a droid. It was tall and thin. It stood quietly and unmoving.

Anakin walked over to the man. Anakin turned to face her, still smiling. He clearly wanted to watch her reaction as he pulled the bag off the prisoner's head. When he did, Padmé let out a gasp.

"Rion!" she said breathlessly. Anakin let out a small laugh. Rion appeared to be asleep, his eyes were closed, his head sagged. "You!" she shouted at her husband. She didn't think she could get any angrier, but she was. Heat flushed through her. She grit her teeth and clenched her hands.

"You see? Everyone has a price, my love," Anakin said stroking the arm of Rion, but Anakin never took his eyes off Padmé.

"What have you done to him? Let him go! He has nothing to do with this!" Padmé let out the words fast, almost slurring them together. Her heart ache seeing Rion shackled to the table. She feared what Vader had in store for him.

"Wake him," Anakin said with a quick nod towards the droid standing behind the table. The droid walked forward with a syringe in hand. It plunged the needle into Rion's arm. Rion's head started to rock a bit and then his eyes slowly opened. He appeared groggy as he looked around around the room.

"Pad-Padmé?" he said softly as he noticed her chain to the ground.

"Rion," she said desperately.

Anakin unclipped his lightsaber from his belt and activated it. The red blade sprung forth. With one smooth and expert movement, the blade slashed through Rion's wrist severing his right hand from the arm. Anakin had cut the hand off right below the restraint that kept Rion's arm to the table. Rion screamed, his body arched against the restraints. The hand fell to the floor.

"Rion!" Padmé yelled. "Stop! Anakin! Stop!"

In a fluid movement, Anakin deactivated his saber and clipped back to his belt, while marching back over to Padmé. He crouched down to her, grabbing her chin with his metal hand. He brought his face up to hers.

"That is no longer my name," his growled. She could feel the breath of his words against her cheek. There was a moment of silence. The grip on her chin loosened, but he didn't let go. "Now say my name," he said lowly.

"No," she said softly in automatic defiance.

He stood up, his lightsaber again activated in his hand. He strode towards Rion, raising the blade up.

"What shall it be this time, my angel?" Anakin called out, but not turning to face her. "His other arm? His foot?"

"No!" Padmé called out. "No! Stop! Vader!" Tears came to her eyes. "Vader! Vader!"

Anakin- no Vader Padmé corrected herself- stopped, deactivated the blade and again clipped to his belt. He swerved on his heels and turned to face her again. His yellow eyes falling on her once again.

"That wasn't that hard," he said. He walked back over to her. He placed his real hand on her head and started to stroke her hair. Tears fell down her cheeks. She didn't have in it her to pull away from his horrible touch. "Though do your best to remember to keep using it," he said. His voice was warm, caring. Yet she knew his words for what they were, threats.

"Ah I do believe I have forgotten myself," Vader said pulling his hand away from Padmé's head. "Our bargain! You shall willingly take your place by my side as my wife, and I shall let this," he hissed that last word as he gestured over to Rion, "live."

Padmé's stare went from Vader to Rion. Her heart ached at seeing Rion in that state. His face was pale and sweaty. His head rolled a bit from side to side as he tried to manage the pain of losing his hand.

"Really I think it's quite generous on my part," Vader said as he walked over to Rion. He grabbed a fist full of the man's hair and jerked his head back. Rion let out a whimper. "He dared to steal his Emperor's wife." Vader glanced over at Padmé. His voice dripped with venom. "He dared have my wife kiss him. Love him. Repeatedly." Vader's eyes seem to glow in the dimly lit room. Padmé couldn't repress the shiver that ran through her at the possessiveness and jealousy in Vader's words.

Padmé started to cry. Rion had been a pilot working under Bail Organa. He became her personal pilot and then more. The physical release he brought her allowed her to feel human again. She knew the relationship with Rion was merely a flimsy patch over the gaping wound in her heart. She had been so heartbroken after losing Anakin.

Padmé didn't want love, so she always kept a certain emotional distance from Rion. She always held back from him. Rion was aware of it. Sometimes Padmé caught the pain in his eyes as he wanted more, but never asked of it. Yet he had been so sweet, so understanding, and comforted her through all her breakdowns and tears. She had come to care for him in a way over the years.

"What will it be, Padmé?" Vader continued. He threw the hand down that held up Rion's head. Rion's head went crashing into his chest. "His life for your willing and complete submission to me?" Padmé didn't answer. She sobbed. Tears flooded down her cheeks. Vader sighed in disgust.

He waved his hand and a sharp silver blade rose from the tall table next to Rion. Vader held out his hand as he controlled the blade with the Force. "No," Padmé muttered softly between her sobs. Vader flicked his hand and the blade slid across Rion's arm. It left a deep gash that instantly oozed blood. Rion sucked in a sharp breath and whimpered a bit.

"Your choice, Padmé?" Vader asked again. Padmé sagged, letting her head rest on her chest. Her body shook with heaving sobs. Rion let out a startled cry as he was cut again. Padmé let out a soft heartbroken cry. She couldn't do it. She couldn't bring the words to her lips.

Vader scowled. He nodded towards the droid. The droid turned its attention to something behind the table, where Padmé could not see. Suddenly a high-pitch buzzing sound filled the room, but was quickly drown out by Rion's screaming. His whole body was tense. His back arched against the table. His remaining hand clenched. Padmé had trouble breathing as she realized Rion was being shocked with electricity.

Then as quickly as it started, it stopped. Rion's body instantly sagged. Only the restraints held him up. His arm still bled from the cut. Vader had been watching the torture, but now he turned to Padmé with a smile across his lips. He was clearly enjoying this.

"Have you decided yet?" Vader asked. She put the words in her mouth, but they felt like lead. Her lips felt heavy. She couldn't bring herself to say them. Vader nodded to the droid. Again another rounds of electricity went through Rion. Another round of screams before the shock was over. "How about now?" Vader asked again, but still Padmé was silent. Again Rion was shocked. Again his screams filled the air. It lasted longer this time.

Rion coughed and blood came out. His body heaved in deep staggered breaths. "He's going into shock. We may have to finish this later." Vader said sympathetically. Vader jerked his head towards the droid. "Heal him," he ordered sternly. The droid pulled a cart out from beyond the table that Padmé hadn't seen before. The droid got to work sealing up the cut on the arm and bandaging them sigh bacta patches. An IV was started and a blood bag was brought out to pump fresh blood into Rion.

Vader had been watching the droid and Rion. He let a long sigh of disgust before he turned from the table and walked over to Padmé. She flinched and tried to back away from him, but couldn't. She almost lost her balance, but regained herself. She looked down. Her eyes on the floor. She could just make out his boots through the long strands of hair that had fallen in front of her face.

She heard him kneeling before she saw his knee come right next to hers. She felt his hand, his real one, land softly on the top of her head. He started to gently stroke her head. His other hand landed softly on the back of her shoulder. She was shivering. Her whole body ached from the movement. Then she felt his lips on her head. He kissed her a few times. Each one soft. Loving. Yet once again Vader quickly shattered that these notions were genuine.

"It won't stop," he whispered into her hair. "Until you give me your decision."

Padmé saw the future play out before her. Vader wasn't going to stop. He wasn't going to allow Rion to die. Until she gave her decision, this was going to play out again and again. Vader would torture Rion until he was at the brink death, only to bring him back, and repeat the process again until she either agreed or disagreed with Vader's deal.

Rion's life was in Padmé's hands. She couldn't do that to Rion. He was innocent in all of this. The only crime he had committed was being a normal loving person and falling in love with Padmé.

"I- I agree," she said very softly. Vader placed his hand under her chin and softly brought her face up.

"I'm sorry, I didn't hear you," he said. His yellow eyes bore into her.

"I agree," she said a bit louder. A smile grew across the monster's face. He looked pleased.

"Agree with what?" he purred in a low voice while looking at her through lidded eyes. Yet Padmé didn't answer. He brought his face closer to her's. "Agree with what?" his voice stern this time.

"I'll- I'll," Padmé stuttered. She closed her eyes. She couldn't look at the man, the monster. She didn't want to say it. Her mouth was dry. She was finding it hard to speak. "I'll be yours," she gasped.

"Completely and willingly?" Vader said.

"Ye-yes," Padmé added.

"Then say it!" he hissed angrily at her.

"I'll be- I'll be yours completely and willingly." Her heart sank. Her insides turned cold. What had she done?

"See," Vader said in a low voice. "Everyone has their price."

Chapter Text

Chapter Five: The Fever

Padmé tossed and turned. Her body was burning from the inside. She was coated in sweat. The pain inside her head pounded and tore her thoughts apart. No matter how she tossed in the bed, she was never comfortable. Her body ached even when still. Moving caused the muscles to scream and tear anew, but she found she couldn't stay still for long. The aching and the burning heat was too much after being still for too long.

Through all of this she kept her eyes closed in a pathetic attempt to lure herself to sleep. When she finally seemed to calm her body down enough, it was her thoughts that would go off. She thought back to the cell. To Rion. To Vader. To the bargain she had agreed to.

"I'll be- I'll be yours completely and willingly." she had said softly.

"See," Vader said in a low voice. "Everyone has their price." Padmé opened her eyes and looked over Rion. His eyes were closed, possibly passed out or asleep. But he wasn't dead. His chest rose and fell. Padmé couldn't stop the sob that escaped from her.

Vader shifted so his body came closer to her's. He brought his mouth up to her ear. "Now," he whispered, "Prove it." She let in a small gasp. His hands were cupping her cheeks as he brought her face towards hers. His lips met hers. She tried to pull back, but his grip was too strong.

"Completely and willingly," Vader whispered to her. He drew his face back and looked at Rion over his shoulder. The IV flew out his arm, the liquid splashed across the floor. The bacta patches were ripped off by an invisible force. She heard the high-pitched humming of the torture machine starting to wind up, ready to unleash bolts of electricity into Rion.

"Let's try this again," Vader said as he turned back to Padmé. Again he drew her face up to his. Again their lips met. She was hesitant, but then she opened her lips. Her whole body felt frozen and numb as his tongue moved inside her mouth. "You're not convincing me," Vader whispered.

She weakly kissed him back. Then again and again. She let her tongue move with his. She was finding it easier with each kiss. Her body hadn't forgotten his. She quickly found her groove as their lips moved with each other. She took in deep breaths whenever they parted for a small bit, before once again he was on her.

Finally he pulled away looking extremely satisfied. He took in a deep breath and licked his lips. As he pulled his hands away from her face, he let his thumb slide across her lips.

In the bed, Padmé felt her body shudder violently. She brought a hand up to her mouth and tried to wipe away the sensation of his mouth against hers. Yet no matter what, the ghost lips seemed to be there.

After that encounter, Vader had released her restraints and ordered her to follow him. However she quickly found she couldn't walk very far. Her body was weak, dehydrated and hungry. Her muscles cramped and were numb from poor blood circulation. She had crumpled to the ground after only a few steps. Vader had swept her up into his arms and carried her.

She couldn't remember much of the journey to this room. The fever was starting to settle in. She remember seeing the long gray corridors. The journey in a lift. The thing she remembered the most was his secure grip on her. He didn't hurt her, just held her close to him. Her head rested on his shoulder. She could hear his steady heart beat pounding in an even rhythm. She let the sound lure her to sleep.

When she awoke she found herself in the large bed with expensive silky sheets. She was in her undergarments, the same ones she was wearing before. She thanked her gods that at least those weren't gone or had been replaced. A cold shiver ran through her mind at the thought of what that would entail. His hands on her naked form.

Padmé found her fever had gotten worse. She had stayed in bed, tossing and turning, chasing after sleep. Yet once she was asleep the dreams would haunt her. Then she wanted nothing but to be awake. She was in a cruel cycle where true rest was always out of reach.

Her dreams were a mix. Some of it went back to her time in the cell with Vader and Rion. The scenes would play out over and over. Then other times, perhaps her mind thinking it was doing her a kindness, would replay memories of her and Rion.

"Padmé?"

She lifted her head from her folded arms. She had fallen asleep at the small table in her room aboard the Helios Eclipse. Rion stood in the doorway. His brows were creased heavy with concern.

"Sorry . . . I feel asleep . . ." she said. She brought her hand up to wipe her eyes and found there moist and swollen with tears. She recalled crying herself to sleep. Rion walked into the room. The door swished shut behind him.

"Are you alright?" he asked. She gave him her best smile, but knew her it didn't reach her eyes. "What are you thinking of?" Rion didn't know her full past. He wanted to know what pained her. What brought her to tears so often. What haunted her dreams and caused her to wake up screaming. He knew of her, of course. He knew she had been a famous senator and previous queen, but he didn't know the whole truth. The deep painful truth.

In truth she wasn't sure what had brought her to tears this time. Her desperate attempts to right the wrongs of the current state of the galaxy that she herself had unknowingly helped create? The despair at seeing the galaxy casted further and further into darkness, often at the times of the man she was once loved completely and wholly? The ache for revenge against the sith lord who used her innocence and love to bring the galaxy under his thumb and turn her husband into a monster? Or was it for the monster himself? The deep fear and heartache she had for him, that she felt she would never be free of until he was dead?

Yet she didn't speak of any of these things to Rion. For all he knew Padmé weeped for the loss of the Republic and democracy. That she had failed in her attempts to get the Chancellor to cede his powers with the Petition of 2,000. Perhaps Rion had an inkling that there was more to his heartache. Perhaps he guessed she had lost a love. She didn't know. He never asked. She never told her.

Rion walked over to her and kneeled in front of her. She found her arms wrapping around him, seeking comfort to chase away her negative thoughts. She wanted relief, even if it was fleeting, from her depression. Rion was all too willing to comply to her request as he lifted her up the short distance over to her bed.

Rion was so different from Anakin. Love-making with Anakin had been deeply passionate. It took over her complete mental and physical being. It was often energetic and joyful, and at times possessive and desperate when the two reunited after being seperated for long stretches of time. Where Anakin had been like a storming ocean demanding everything of Padmé (which she had willingly given to him), Rion was like a calm lake. He was soft, sweet, and gentle. He let her lead as much as possible. Never pushing too far or going too rough.

Padmé would awake from her memories with tears stinging her eyes as she again recalled Rion's fate in the cell. His lost hand. The shocks tearing through his body. The screams echoing through her bones. As she slipped between waking and dreaming she found herself more disoriented. She sometimes wasn't aware if she was awake or not.

Then there were the hands and the voice. Gentle hands that would caress her. Hands that would help her sit up to drink water or sometimes feed her broth. The hands would bring a cool wash rag to wipe to the sweat from her burning body. The voice was soft as well. It called her name warmly. Told her to rest and regain her strength.

"Padmé," the voice said softly to her. "Everything is alright." A hand was on her forehead, the thumb gently caressing her skin. She felt another one on her shoulder. It traced lazy circles on her hot skin. "You're where you need to be. You're by my side."

She opened her eyes and looked over at him. Her vision was blurry and hazy. She couldn't quite make him out. Yet she knew him. She scrunched her eyes and brows in attempts to focus. Slowly his face came into focus.

"Anakin," she let out a soft gasp. "Anakin . . . Anakin." Tears welled in her eyes and started to softly roll down her cheeks. She didn't notice the small flinch he gave at the sound of the name. He brought the hand that was on her shoulder to her cheek. His thumb wiping away the tears as his palm rested around her face.

"Padmé. I'm here," he said. He leaned over and brought his face to hers. His lips kissed at her cheeks, soaking and licking up her tears.

"Anakin . . . why did you leave me?" Her voice barely escaped her. She could feel him tense. He stopped his kissing and she could feel his eyes on her.

"I- I never left you, Padmé," he said. There was something off about his voice, but she couldn't quite place it with the pain and the heat of her fever. "You left me."

"No . . ." she whispered. What nonsense was he talking about? "I never left you."

"When I came back, you were gone," his voice was deep but a whisper that matched hers. There was an edge to it. An anger. A darkness.

"Obi-Wan . . ."

"What about Obi-Wan?" he hissed. The hand on her forehand clenched into a fist. Some of her hairs were tightened into his grip.

"Anakin," she sobbed. "He said he was going to kill you! I- I couldn't let that happen!"

"Tch. That weak fool could never stand against me."

Padmé ignored that comment and continued. "I went to warn you. To see if you were safe . . . but . . ." Her lips were still moving, but no sounds came out. Only a few parts managed their way out. " . . . was hiding . . . blacked out . . . Obi-Wan . . . when I awoke, you were gone." Her eyes filled with tears again. "You were gone! You left me!"

The two were quiet for a long time. The only thing she heard were her own sobs and deep breathing. His hand unclenched and again was making soothing strokes across her forehead. The other hand did the same on her cheek. Eventually sleep claimed her.

This time she slept without dreams. She awoke still heavily groggy with the hands grabbing her. She was lifted out out the bed and carried a short distance. Her clothes were removed. She was too weak and disoriented to protest. Then she felt the water as she was placed inside a tub. She was in a bath.

He washed her with the utmost care. He lathered and rinsed her hair. He scrubbed her body free of the sweat and grime of the fever. He lifted her free from the water and gently toweled her down before bringing her back to the bed. This time he joined her. His body flushed against hers. Something inside of her was telling her to push away, but she was too exhausted and once again succumbed to sleep.

When she awoke she found he was still there, spooned around her. His body felt hot against hers. One arm was wrapped around her waist, the other around her shoulders. Pinning her against him.

"I see you're awake," came his voice from behind her. She could feel his warm breath fluttering through her hair. "Your fever has died down. How are you feeling?" She didn't respond. She just laid there still letting her mind whirl about her as she collected her memories. Cold seared through her as she recalled everything. Her capture. The cell. Rion. The fever. And him.

There were large gaps in her memory during her fever. Her mind raced. She wasn't sure how much time had passed. Her body flinched a bit as if to test to see if she could move. His arms tightened around her, drawing her closer to him. Her back was firmly pressed against his chest. His head came to rest on top of hers. His lips sat next to her ear.

"I've missed this," he purred into her ear. He kissed her ear. He licked it then gently bit it. "I've missed you." His breath raced across her ear and side of her face. He continued to kiss her ear. She became very aware of the heat of his body. It was getting stronger, especially between his legs.

"No!" she gasped and pushed herself up and away from him. She ungracefully but quickly scrambled away from him across the bed. She toppled off the side onto the cold gray carpeted floor. She let herself roll over and then she pushed herself up to look back over at him.

He was sitting up, glaring at her. His gold eyes seemed to glow. The room appeared to get colder. Padmé could feel goosebumps popping up along her exposed skin and her hairs standing on end. It appeared as if the room darkened around him.

Finally he spoke. "I see," was all he said. He rolled off the opposite side of the bed and stormed from the room.

Chapter Text

Chapter Six: The Price

Eventually the cold won. Padmé crawled back into the bed and curled herself up into the sheets. Yet there was no rest to be found. Her mind went back to Vader. How he had stared down at her visibly displeased. She had reacted naturally. She couldn't sleep with that man, that monster.

Now she wondered what would happen next. Would he storm back into the room angry? Would he take her by force? Her heart felt tight in her chest. She wasn't sure how long she stayed like that. On edge, waiting for the door to swish open. Waiting for the man to march in. His yellow eyes tearing into her. Yet he never came.

Eventually Padmé gathered her courage and pushed herself to sit up. For the first time she took stock of the room. Everything was in gray tones. It was a large room with a large bed against the middle of the wall. To her right stood a large viewport. Space moved lazily beyond. On each side of the bed sat a plain bedside table. Across from the bed against the opposite wall sat a long dresser. There was no other furniture in the room.

The wall to her left had two doors, while the wall next to the dresser only had one. That was the door Vader had walked out. She got out of bed and made her way to the two other doors. One was a fresher. She took her time to clean herself up. She examined herself in the mirror. Her skin was pale and there were dark circles on her eyes. She looked thin and haggard.

She wrapped herself up in a towel and decided to check the other door. It was a large closet and it was filled with gowns. Elaborate gowns like she had worn during her time as a senator. The likes she hadn't worn since that fateful day five years ago. She let her hand lightly trail along the garments as she walked into the closet.

She turned and checked out the opposite side of the closet. It was filled with headpieces, hair ornaments, jewelry, accessories, and shoes. She let out a deep sigh. Padmé felt like the woman Vader had prepared these clothes for didn't exist anymore. She had died five years ago. While she found the gowns lovely and beautiful, she had no desire to wear them. Especially for him.

She examined the contents of the long dresser that sat across from the bed. She found a variety of undergarments and night clothes. A few of which were on the risqué side. The first one of that type she found, she grabbed and tore it apart. The flimsy threads easily snapped and broke. She slammed the tattered garment back into the drawer. The next piece she just crumpled up and shoved into the back.

She eventually got dressed in the blandest pair of underwear she could find along with a simple white formless nightgown. She wasn't too pleased with the outfit, but at least it was better than the towel. She made a note to herself to return to the closet later. Surely they had to be something in there that was on the practical or casual side.

She now stood in front of the last door. The door that Vader had left through. The door out of the room. She steeled herself. She filled herself up with courage and anger. She was ready to face him. Ready for whatever he may throw at her. A surge of adrenaline ran through her. She reached out and touched the door control. It swished open. She clenched her hands, took a deep breath, and stepped into the next room.

He wasn't there.

The tension inside Padmé released slowly. She glanced around a few more times. But there was no sight of him. The room was large. To her right sat a sitting and living area. Two couches faced each other with a long low table between them. Beyond that stood an impressive viewport of space. A shelf towered in the corner next to the window. To her left was a small dining area with a round table and four chairs. Beyond that was a small kitchen.

She stepped into the room and walked over to the large viewport. She wasn't interested in the slow moving stars. Instead she focused on the white slanting sides and sharp angles that spanned out below her view. As she had figured, she was on a star destroyer. Most likely the Devastator. It was clear she was in the upper decks, probably close to the command bridge tower. Easy and quick access to me, she mused.

She turned and again took stock of the room. Directly across from the door to the bedroom was another door. She walked over to it and tried the door panel. However the door didn't budge. She wasn't surprised to find it locked. She sighed before moving to the third door. It stood against the far wall in a corner next to the kitchen. Like the previous door, it was also locked.

As she made her way into the kitchen portion of the room, she wondered if this suite of rooms were Vader's personal rooms. Surely not. These rooms had been made for her. A lovely Imperial cage for Vader's prize. There was nothing of him here. No clothes. No belongings. Everything in the bedroom was for her. His actual quarters must nearby. He would want her close. She glanced over her shoulder at the other two doors and thought about were they lead.

She foraged around the kitchen. She found it was basically stocked. She brought out some simple bread, cheese, and fruit. She sat down at the table and ate in silence. She had positioned herself to sit across from the door. She felt like any minute he'd walk in.

After eating, she placed the dishes in the sink. Again she walked the course of the room. She came up to the large shelf near the viewport. It was sparsely filled. There were actual flimsy books lining one shelf. Another shelf was filled with holonovels and another filled with holodramas. She knew nothing would give her access to the holonet and news.

Her eyes quickly glanced at the titles. None of them appealing. She give a loud frustrated sigh before she marched back into the bedroom. She was finding herself tired. She hadn't quite made a complete recovery since her fever that had ravaged her. Plus the tension and fear of Vader returning was honestly leaving her exhausted, mentally and physically. She crawled back into bed and found that sleep quickly met her.

When she awoke everything was the same. The gray room. The viewport. And her. She rolled over and swiped her hands along the sheets next to her. They were cold. She found her body relax from tension she wasn't aware she had been holding. He hadn't been here while she slept. Or at least, not in the bed with her.

Hunger gnawed at her. Her appetite must be returning after her sickness. As she got out of bed, she realized how weak she was feeling. She wondered if there was any food in the kitchen for a decent hearty meal. She came up to the door leading into the large living area. She pressed the door control and the door swished open.

Padmé's eyes immediately found him. Vader sat on the couch that faced the bedroom door. He lounged on it. His legs up and crossed on the low table in front of the couch. His eyes were downcast as he read a datapad in one hand. After a few seconds he looked up at her. His gold eyes pierced into her like daggers. She felt her breath staggered a bit, before she got control of herself.

She stepped through the doorway. Whatever was going to happen she wanted to get it out of the way. She wasn't going to go cower in the bed. Plus she had a feeling he would enjoy that anyways.

"I see you're finally awake," he said. His voice was normal. No menace or anger. Vader uncrossed his legs and placed the datapad on the couch next to him. His horrible smile was starting to creep along his face, and Padmé felt a shiver run through her. She was finding herself a bit cold and cursed at the thin nightgown she wore.

"Are you hungry?" he asked as he stood and started to walk over to her. He gestured towards the table. She slowly and numbly walked over to it. A metal domed cloche sat covering a plate. Vader was now beside her. He placed a hand softly on her shoulder. The hairs on her arm rose up on end from his touch. She looked up at him, but his face still held that stupid smile.

He was up to something, but since she didn't know what she allowed herself to be lead. He acted a gentleman by pulling out the chair in front of the dish. She sat down. She suddenly found a lump in her throat as became very apprehensive about what was under the covering. What game was Vader playing at now?

"I prepared this myself after our last interaction and your . . ." he paused. Padmé looked over at him. She shivered seeing how his face had hardened. The anger clear across his face. He continued, "Refusal."

Fear shot through her. Vader slowly reached for the round knob on top of the domed cloche. He was purposely taking his time. Enjoying her squirm in fear and anticipation. She clenched her teeth. Whatever was under the covering, she couldn't react. She couldn't give him that satisfaction. But she did.

With a smooth movement, Vader pulled up the cloche. She could feel his eyes on her. On the metal plate sat a dismembered foot. It had been cleanly burned off at the ankle. By a lightsaber she realized. Then she gasped as it hit her. It was Rion's foot. Her hands came up to her mouth. Her eyes started to water, but she fought back the tears. She pulled forth her anger and snapped her head at him.

She spat at him. "How dare you-" She didn't finish. His gloved-metal hand grabbed her face, pinching each side of her jaw.

"Our bargain, dear wife," he sneered lowly, "was that you are mine. Completely and willingly." He stared at her for a second. Letting his words sink in. Then he jerked his hand so she stared back at the foot. "I will return to you later. I expect a fully compliant wife. You best remember the price if you are not."

He let her go. Her hands went up to face to massage the sore muscles were he had grabbed her. She heard a door open and swish shut. She glanced up and found he was gone. She looked at the foot. It wasn't sorrow or helplessness that rushed inside of her. It was anger and defiance.

She pushed herself up and stomped into the kitchen. That man, that monster, wanted to take her? She wasn't going down without a fight. She pulled open the drawers in the kitchen, but found no knives. She wanted something to defend herself with. Yet the only thing she found was a butter knife. She cursed and as she stormed back into the living area.

There was nothing there. There were no decorations. No glass or ceramic vases she could shatter. She even went back to the kitchen and checked the plates and cups. They were all made of unbreakable material. She cursed and went into the bedroom. Again there was nothing there. She could use a bedside table or a dining chair and throw it at him. But that wouldn't do.

She then found herself in the closet digging through the jewelry. Looking for a sharp pin or needle. She threw the jewelry on to the floor as she searched, yet found nothing to suit her needs. She let out a frustrated scream. She grabbed the nearest gown and tore it from its hangar. She pulled and clawed at it in attempts to rip it to shreds. But it was made of very good quality and didn't budge. She balled it up and threw it the floor.

She leaned against the back wall of the closet and allowed herself to slide down to the ground. There was nothing. Nothing in here to defend herself against him. Most likely he had personally arranged for that to be the case. The thought did cross her mind of finding a gown with long sleeves that she could tie around his neck. But no strangelation required time and strength, which she wouldn't have against him.

She needed to be free of him. Of this place. The idea of his hands on her make her blood boil and her body shiver. His bloodied hands that had killed countless Jedi. Killed younglings. Killed scores of innocent people that dared to defy him. She couldn't let it. She couldn't bring herself to let him touch her.

But then you let Rion die.

She let out a long breath. The emotions she had buried upon seeing the foot, bubbled up. She could feel her grief. Was one person's life worth her defiance? One innocent life? No she couldn't become like Vader. She couldn't simply throw away Rion's life, could she? The alternative was to let Vader have her. Plus what kind of life was Rion living now anyways? Perhaps it would be better to let Vader kill him. A sad twisted bit of mercy for the man.

Vader's words suddenly came to her. "Something I've learned since becoming Emperor is that everyone has a price. Everyone has a breaking point."

She couldn't stop the shiver that ran through her. He wasn't going to give up. She knew him. Even if Rion died than he would find something else, if he didn't already have something lined up. He would keep going until he broke her.

She brought up her knees and curled herself up as a wave of depression settled over her. There was no way out of this. Unless she could actually break free of the man, there was no way out. Sure she might be able to push him away again. But how long would she last? What would he use against her next? And when would he tire of these games anyways? He could just take her by force.

She wasn't sure how long she stayed like that. Curled up in the closet. Eventually she heard the closet open and she looked up. Vader stood in the doorway, leaning against one side of the door frame. His arms were crossed as he looked down at her.

"Are you done with your temper tantrum?" he asked.

She said nothing. She didn't move. She just glared at him. After a moment of silence, he shook his head and sighed. He walked into the closet and crouched in front of her. She drew herself away from him as much as she could. He moved so he was beside her and sat down. He pulled her over to him and wrapped his arms around her stiff and rigid body.

"You don't have to do anything you don't want to do, Padmé," he said softly. "As I said, I want a willing wife."

She stayed quiet and continued to keep her whole body tense.

"It is all your choice," he purred softly into her hair. "I can spend my night here with you. While you scream my name, begging for more." She couldn't help the small huff of air that escaped her lips. Even if she did willing go to bed with him, the only begging she'd be doing was for him to stop and leave.

Suddenly the temperature in the closet dropped. Coldness dug into her and she shivered. He pulled her closer to him, tightening his hold on her. His body was warm compared to the cold. When he spoke again his voice was low and dripped with malice.

"Or," he hissed, "I could spend my night with him. I could listen to his screams, begging me to end his pathetic life. It doesn't matter to me which option you chose. I'll be satisfied with either one."

She was shivering non stop now, despite the warmth of her husband's body. But she knew she was shivering from more than just the sudden cold. She felt his lips on top of head.

"And for future reference," he said in a soft whisper. "After tonight you will not be spared my future sessions with that scum. You will be there to watch as I personally make sure his life is dragged into an endless onslaught of suffering."

He said nothing more. They were quiet for what felt like a long time to Padmé, but could have been mere minutes. Her mind raced over his threats and promises as she debated on what to do. Finally she let her body slowly loosen up. She let her weight lean into his. She could feel him vibrate with satisfaction. One of his arm unwrapped itself from her and she felt his hand on her cheek. He pulled her face up and she looked at him.

"I knew you'd make the right choice," he said in a sensual voice as he pulled her face close to his. She opened her mouth to let him kiss him. She let his warmth wash over her body and ease away the cold. But deep inside of herself, her core was stone cold.

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven: The Name

The warm morning light of Coursant filtered through her window. As Padmé slowly started to wake, the first thing she noticed was the smell. His smell. For the past several weeks she had only the barest whispers of that smell. She would sometimes roll over on to his pillow and take deep breaths for his smell. But now that smell was strong.

She had yet to open her eyes, not wanting this pleasant dream-like state to end. She rolled over and immediately found his warmth. It didn't take much for her to curl into him. She let her head rest on Anakin's chest. She took a breath, savoring him as much as she could.

"I've missed you too," he murmured in a sleepy voice. She only smiled and rubbed her head against him in response. His arms wrapped around her small form. One hand started combing through her curls in an absent-minded but caring way. Padmé felt Anakin's chin come to rest on the top of her head.

The two stayed like that for a while. Just enjoying each other presence in the morning hours. Finally it was Padmé who moved first. She pulled away from him and looked up at him. His blue eyes stared back at her. She placed a hand on his cheek and a beautiful smile crossed his face in response.

"You need to get going back to the temple now," she said. Anakin brought his own hand up to the hand she had placed on his cheek. His slid her hand down so it is over his mouth. He started to kiss the inside of her palm. She lets it go on for a few seconds before she pulls her hand away. "Anakin," she said in a more serious voice. He threw his head back into his pillow and sighed in obvious annoyance.

He casted a glance at her. She can see the mischievous side of Anakin growing. He rolled over and is quickly on top of her. "Anakin!" she shouted playfully at him. His hands are on either side of her head, gently cradling her as he looks down at her. Padmé can feel her heart hammering in her chest with loving warmth as she looks at his warm smile and gentle eyes. He leaned in slowly and starts to kiss her. She kissed him back.

Oh how wonderful he makes her feel, and how she hates to end this but she must. Anakin needed to get back to the Jedi Temple. He wasn't supposed to be here. He wasn't to be with her. She put her two palms on his bare chest and pushed him away. He let out a dissatisfied groan.

"Padmé . . ." Anakin said as his eyes traveled down her bare form. He leaned on his right side, as he brought his left hand to her side. His hand slid down her curves all the way down to the top of her legs, before traveling back up again. A pleasant shiver went through her, which didn't go unnoticed by him. He smiled as he leaned into her again. He kissed her cheek and started to move down to her neck.

Padmé knew exactly where her husband's thoughts were going. Her thoughts were going there as well. She wanted to go there. She wanted to spend the morning with him. She wanted to spend the whole day. But they each had duties to attend to.

"Anakin," she finally said. He didn't answer. "Anakin" she repeated a bit more stern.

"Hmm?" he finally said.

"I'm sorry," she said as she placed her arms on his shoulders. He stopped kissing her and looked up at her.

"For what?" he asked. A playful half smile came across his lips.

"For this," she said and pushed him off the bed. He tumbled to the floor. The bed comforter and sheets went with him.

"Padmé!" he shouted. He sat up in a knot of blankets. She let out a small laugh at the sight of him. She slid off the bed and leaned over to place a kiss on his head. Yet she didn't manage to get away before blanket covered arms grabbed her waist and pulled her into the pile of husband and blankets.

"Anakin!" she said. "You've got to go! I've got to get ready!" But he just pulled her closer. She wanted to be mad, but couldn't. "Anakin!' she said playfully beating on his chest to let her go. He only laughed.

When she awoke it wasn't in her room in her apartment on Coursant. It was the grey room on the destroyer. Stars lazily floated by in the large viewport. She rolled over and found him lying there. He was sleeping on his side facing her. She took a long look at him. She couldn't help but compare him to the memory she had just had. A wonderful memory of her husband. The man she loved with her whole heart.

The man in front of her looked so much like her husband when he slept. It was the same face, the same body, the same hair. His breathing was the same. Padmé moved closer to him and wrapped her arms around him. Her body pressed against his. Yes, this monster was so much like her husband. She closed her eyes and tried to let herself pretend that everything was normal. Everything was as it should be.

But the smell was wrong. It wasn't his smell. Not the smell she should search for on his pillow when he disappeared to the front lines for months at a time. Not the smell she fell asleep to or got aroused by. No, it was different. It was not comforting.

Tears were building up and starting to sting her eyes. She buried her head into his chest. "Anakin," she sobbed in a soft whisper. She didn't want to wake the monster. "My Anakin . . ." Eventually sleep claimed her.

When she awoke, he was gone. But the smell lingered. She sighed and rolled over to face back towards the viewport. To get away from his lingering presence in the bed. Eventually she got up and got dressed in a simple nightdress as she was not in the mood to go back into the closet. It had been two night cycles since she had received her reminder of Rion's foot. Two nights since she had torn apart the closet. She had yet to step back into the small room. She wondered if it was still a mess or if perhaps some cleaning droid had come in when she wasn't paying attention.

As she sat down to eat breakfast, her mind went back to Vader and the routine they seemed to have settled into the past few days. He was gone most of the day, leaving Padmé alone to her own devices. There wasn't much to do in the rooms. As such she was often left with her thoughts. Her thoughts were mostly about him.

He would return in the night cycle. There was often a bit of small chat. If she wasn't in the bedroom already, he would lead her there. Then they would sleep together. She didn't dare say make love. That was not what was happening. She had no love for that man. Not for Vader. Afterwards the two would fall asleep, and he would be gone when she awoke.

She heard the soft click of the lock followed by a door opening and closing. Then she heard his boots on the carpet approaching her. He was here much earlier than usual. There was no chrono in the rooms, but it wasn't even halfway through the day cycle. She gathered herself up mentally. She didn't need any of these loose thoughts bubbling up while he was around.

She looked up and faced him.

He stood only a few paces away with his hands behind his back. He smiled at her as if he was genuinely happy to see her. As if he had missed her. Like Anakin used to. Padmé shook her head to chase the thought away. He brought his hands forward. His gloved hand held a small white box with a red ribbon around it.

"My angel," he said. "I have a present for you."

He turned and gestured towards one of the sofas. She followed his prompt, walked over to the living area, and sat down. He handed her the box. It was thin and long, but no longer than her hand. She pulled on the red bow, which easily came undone. She pulled off the lid.

She didn't know what to expect inside the box. She wasn't expecting this, but she wasn't surprised either. Inside was a finger. The dark tan skin gave it away as Rion's. Her hands trembled as placed the lid back on the box and sat it down on the sofa next to her. She clasped her hands together as she mentally gathered her anger and looked up at him.

"What was that for?" she asked between clenched teeth.

A horrible smile grew across his face. Padmé shivered as she recalled Anakin's smiles from her memory last night. His loving and warm smile. This smile was cold and malicious. Vader leaned over so his head was next to hers.

"I warned you," he said softly into her ear. "For you not to forget to use my name."

"What?" she asked confused. But then she recalled the cell. The image of Vader slashing his red lightsaber through Rion's hand. She had begged him to stop. She had called him Anakin. He had threatened to take more off if she didn't use his name. But when had she called him Anakin? Generally she avoided calling him any name. The name Vader tasted sour in her mouth.

"Last night," he said as if reading her thoughts. "Did you think I was asleep? You whispered that name so longingly."

She was quickly on her feet. She stood before him, but Vader's tall form easily towered over her smaller one. But she didn't cower. She stuck out a finger towards him. She opened her mouth to speak, but he beat her to it.

"Let me guess," he said, "How dare I?" She snapped her mouth shut. That had been the words she was going to say. "You're getting quite predictable, my love. Honestly, I would like to think I am to. I did warn you about using that name. I thought I was quite clear about it."

"I . . . I am allowed to mourn my husband," she said.

"Your husband is right here, my dear wife."

"No," Padmé said. "My husband was Anakin Skywalker. You are not him." He had visibly, but only slightly, flinched at that name. He quickly closed the small distance between them.

"I see you have yet to learn your lesson," Darth Vader said in a soft hiss. "That name means nothing to me."

"If it means nothing to you," she hissed back, "then why the threats at all? Why can't you stand hearing that name, Anakin?" He grabbed the hair at the back her neck and pulled her head back she was staring up at him. She flinched at the pain. His eyes were glowing with a horrible sulfur color.

"Do you really care so little for that Rebel scum?" he asked. "That's twice you've said that name. What shall it be? Two more fingers? He's already down a hand and one finger. Perhaps we should go with toes next time? Then again he is also down a foot."

"You're avoiding answering my question," she said not ready to give to him just yet. "Why don't you like hearing that name? It's clear you don't. You react each time. Trying to forget your past life?"

"Anakin Skywalker was weak, and as such he has been destroyed. What bothers me is that my wife still clings to a dead fool." Vader let go of her hair. Padmé's hand went to massage the back of her head where he had pulled the hair tight. Vader brought up his ungloved hand to her chin. His thumb gently rubbed against her lips. "However," he said a low sultry voice, "That name would be the only name I can forgive you for sweetly whispering."

"Forgive?" Padmé said as she took a step back. Vader's thumb slid across her lips as his hand left her face. "A sliced off finger is what you call forgiveness?"

"No, that was a reminder to let go of that name," Vader said matter-of-factly. "I assure you, you would know if I hadn't forgiven you. I know you think I'm cruel." He glanced back down at the white box. "But I promise you, Padmé, I am being very kind."

He was wrong there. She knew exactly how cruel he could be.

"I won't let go of that name," Padmé replied defiantly. She meant it. She would never let go of Anakin, especially not for Vader. Vader closed the small gap between the two. His hands came to rest softly on her upper arms.

"Eventually you will, my wife," he said softly.

"Stop calling me that," she said trying inject coldness into her voice.

"My wife?" he said with a slight tilt of his head.

"I am not your wife. I'm Anakin Skywalker's wife." His eyes narrowed in on her, but she continued. "He knew how to treat his wife, unlike you. You treat me as if I'm just your nightly plaything. You barely spend time with me outside the bed."

"Was your precious Rion any different for you? Do you see him as anything more tool to ease your desires?" Vader asked.

"Of course!" Rion was more to her than that. Sure she didn't completely love him, but she valued him for more than just his body. Rion was the pilot of her ship. A part of her crew. A part of her Lucky Ten. He helped her plan missions. He gave her advice. He comforted her when she broke down in tears.

"Really?" Vader said in a low voice. "Beyond him being a rebel, being a member of your crew, did you care for him as an individual? Did you ever comfort him? Care for his mental wellbeing? Did you ever spend time with him, just to be in his presence? Share your personal concerns? Did you ever even hold a true meaningful conversation with him that wasn't about your little rebellion?"

"Don't speak of things you know nothing about!"

"But I do know," Vader said as a smile grew on his lips. "You think I didn't look inside his head? You think I didn't want to know how deep my wife's betrayal went? I have to say I was pleasantly surprised it didn't go that deep."

A cold shudder ran through her.

Vader continued. "Does it really matter that it is Rion that I hold against you? Would you have reacted the same way if I captured another member of your rebel crew? What if it was just a stranger? Would you still have given in to my demands? Was it really Rion that made you easily fall back to me?

"Or was it you? Your guilt? You couldn't let someone innocent be hurt? After so many innocents have been hurt because of you and your actions? Especially after that incident at Ryx Station. You think I don't know how deeply you hold these deaths to your heart? Oh, I'm aware at how much it cuts at you. Even now I can feel the deep pain and guilt that you try to hide and lie to yourself about."

She felt as if she was stone. Or ice. She was frozen. She couldn't move. She could barely think. His words hurt. They hurt so much because they were true. Would she have reacted any different if any other person was strapped to that table being tutored because of her? Would she have sold herself over to ease their suffering?

"Or maybe it's all because you just missed me?" Vader purred.

"That is not it at all," Padmé said through clenched teeth.

Vader leaned over and whispered in her ear. "Yet it's my old name you cry out in the night."

Her hands were up and pushing him away from her. "Oh so now it's your name?"

"I never said it wasn't," he replied.

"Really?" she scoffed. "Seems to me you want to destroy everything that once belonged Anakin, even the name. And if you want nothing else to do with that name, that life, then just let me go."

"No," he growled. Coldness seem to be pouring from him. "You are mine. You yourself agreed to this as well. I won't let you go, Padmé."

"What if I want to break off our bargain?" she asked.

"Well isn't this pleasing?" he said. Padmé was confused. Pleasing? "You want that scum dead? That can be arranged."

He grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her towards the door that was opposite of her bedroom door. The door opened for Vader and they were in a small hallway. Not a big corridor, but obviously still a part of the living quarters. They passed a few closed doors before finally stopping at one. The door opened to a large office.

A large desk sat against the wall to Padmé's left, but Vader led her to the large circular holotable in the middle of the room. He let go of her wrist as he typed into the controls of the table. Shortly the table lit up and a holo came up of Rion. He was strapped to a metal bed. She noted the missing hand, foot, and finger.

Vader swept behind Padmé and placed his hands on her shoulders. She felt his head come to rest on top of hers.

"Ah, but first I do believe some payment is due for using the wrong name." His voice was happy. "Hmmm. You did say it multiple times just now. Ah! I know just the thing!" One hand left her shoulder and she could feel him lean slightly away from her. However, the other hand stayed on her other shoulder.

"Droid?" he said. She realized he was talking into a comlink. Suddenly a droid appeared next to the table in holo next to Rion. "Cut out the man's tongue. Maybe that will teach my wife to be careful when she speaks."

The droid disappeared from the holo, but then came back into view carrying a sharp medical scalpel. It approached the still form of Rion. Vader's hands were back on her shoulders, putting a slight pressure on her. She watched as the droid opened the mouth.

Her mind went back to her previous personal argument. Did she care so little for Rion? Could she condemn the man to death for her freedom? Or was it all lies she was telling herself? A sudden rush of emotion hit her. Guilt. Sadness. Grief. Loneliness. Love. Yes love. She in some way did care for Rion. Seeing him again had reminded her of that.

"No," she said finally breaking. "Please stop."

"Too late for that, my angel," Vader whispered. "The price must be paid."

She turned away from the holo and pressed herself against him. She buried her head into his shirt.

"Why?" she said. Her voice muffled by his shirt. "Why are you doing this?"

His arms wrapped around her. He gently hugged her. "You already know," he whispered. "I want my wife. I want wife by my side. I want my wife completely and willingly."

She couldn't stop the tears and sobs that came up. She wanted to argue. This isn't how to get his wife back. He was only pushing her farther away from him. But she didn't. She didn't have it in her at the moment. She was already so emotionally drained. The earlier conversation had taken a toll on her.

He gently pushed her away from him and then spun her around. She was looking at the holo. The price had been paid. Blood poured from Rion's mouth. Two medical droids were stepping up.

"I see you do still care for him," Vader said in his soft caring voice. "It's tearing you apart to see him like this."

And then his voice changed. The real voice of Vader came through. His dark vicious voice. "If you keep this up, there really won't be much of him left. Though if you'd like him more whole, then I suggest you don't disobey me again, Padmé. As much as I will enjoy ending his life, I won't allow you to call off our bargain even if you let me kill him. I assure you I have so much more to keep you here where you belong."

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight: The Next Step

"I assure you I have so much more to keep you here where you belong."

The words of Darth Vader haunted Padmé. Though she didn't find the words that surprising. She already knew the monster had more up his sleeve. She knew the moment Rion didn't work as Vader's bargaining device, he would pull out something else.

Yet actually hearing the man say it sent shivers down Padmé's spine. With so little to do in her rooms, her mind went over all the possibilities she could imagine of what else Vader might have in store.

She also contemplated how far Vader was going to push her. He said he wanted his wife, but he didn't want Padmé. He wanted his version of Padmé. A beautiful woman who would do anything her husband asked. That was not Padmé. It wasn't even the woman he had fallen in love with. Vader wanted something that didn't exist. But he's determined to make it exist, she thought coldly to herself.

It had been a week and a half since she had first been imprisoned in these rooms. She now found the rooms suffocating and a bit maddening. She hated the cage Vader had designed for her. He had designed it well to make her more compliant and dependent on him. If she wanted anything then she would have to ask him. Rely on him.

So far her requests were few and far between. She had asked for chrono as there hadn't been one in either of the rooms. Even her perception of time had been limited to when he was here versus when he was not here. Luckily, Vader had provided her with the chrono without any arguments or bargains.

Padmé currently paced in the living area. Her eyes kept darting back to the large viewport and the view of space. She had been given a respite from the man. She hadn't seen him in two days. She wondered where he had gone after the first day, but on the second day she got her answer as a battle waged on outside the viewport.

Padmé had pressed herself up to the window. She didn't have the best view, but she could see two other destroyers in battle formation. She could see the swarm of TIE fighters. She could just barely make out the other force. She never got a good look at any of them. The small snub fighters were too far away and too fast for her to get a good look at. She never saw any of the larger ships that had to be taking the fire from the ion cannons from the destroyers.

She didn't know who the Empire was fighting. A planet uprising? A shadow of the remaining Separatists? A rebel cell?

She continued her pacing. The battle outside in space had just ended. Her anxiety fueling her body with aderalined. Her body ached to run and move. To be free of the confines of this room.

The last time she had seen the man, he had returned to the rooms before dinner and the two had dined together. Conversation was almost nonexistent between the two. It wasn't as if Padmé had a lot to offer. Her days in the rooms were boring and she didn't want to talk about her rebellion or her past. Especially the past. There were things that were too painful for her there.

Vader didn't offer up much to talk about either. She did try. She asked him about their current location or what it was that he did when he was away each day. Yet he refused to offer up such things.

Frustrated she finally asked, "What happens next?" Vader stopped eating and placed his utensils down as he just stared at her. When he didn't answer she continued, "Is this to be my life now? Forever in these rooms on a star destroyer?"

"Of course not," he said. "When I'm done with my business we shall return to Imperial Center. There you will enjoy my palace."

Back in the present, Padmé clenched her hands into fists and dug her nails into the skin of her palms. Imperial Center, she thought darkly. There would be no escaping there. Escaping from a star destroyer would be easier. All she had to do was get free of these rooms, get in a shuttle, and hopefully get out before anyone noticed anything amiss. Yet getting off a planet, much less Coruscant, would be much harder.

The Imperial capital had its own fleet stationed there. All traffic going to and from the planet was heavily monitored. Even the traffic would be a problem. It would also impede a quick get away. She would have to wait to make sure she was clear for any jumps into hyperspace. She had feeling that time would be most important element in her escape.

She knew with absolute dread that if Vader got her to his planetside palace, she would be trapped there. She had to escape before that. Plus she wasn't sure how much more she could keep herself together. Vader was waging a battle against her very being, and she had been losing very slowly. It had only been a week and a half. Padmé had been giving in slowly to each of his demands. Truthfully she sighed in relief there was yet one demand he hadn't asked of her, the one demand she would never give him. It was only a matter of time before he did ask it. She was certain of it.

Padmé thought back to the previous conversation she had with Vader. "You'll enjoy my palace," Vader said. "You'll be allowed much more room and freedom. I promise." She couldn't help but roll her eyes and scoff.

"You promise?" she asked.

"I am a man of my word, Padmé," he replied. "When have I ever broken my word?"

She thought of all the broken promises between them. She thought of their wedding vows, which only made her think of her beloved Anakin. The familiar heartache followed.

Vader continued when Padmé didn't respond. "If there is one of us who doesn't keep their word, that would be you," he said in a serious tone.

"When have I ever-" she began but was cut off.

"I promised to make things different. Better. I promised to end the war. I did. But you didn't wait. You were gone when I returned."

She knew what he was talking about. The last time the two had seen each other. The last time she had seen Anakin. She had been watching the flames consume the Jedi Temple from her apartment when he returned to her. She was relieved to see him alive and safe.

"Have faith, my love." he said. His hand was cupped around her cheek. "Everything will soon be set right. The Chancellor has given me a very important mission. The Separatists have gathered in the Mustafar system. I'm going there to end this war. Wait for me until I return . . . things will be different, I promise."

He leaned in, and she leaned in as well as the two kissed.

"Please, wait for me," he said again as turned to walk back to his starfighter.

She replayed the conversation over again. She hadn't promised to wait for him. But maybe he remembered it different. She wanted to argue this point, but didn't. This was going dangerously close to subjects she didn't want to talk about. Never wanted to even think about, especially around him. To thoughts she kept tightly locked away at all times. Vader didn't push the conversation farther, for which Padmé was deeply relieved about.

Back in the present, Padmé stormed over to the viewport of the living area. She could feel the her conviction growing inside of her. She was going to get herself out of here. She was going to escape. She was going to be free from him.

And she was going to have to accept the price of that freedom.

She wouldn't be able to free Rion. She knew it. Her heart ached and bled inside of her. For her to escape it meant she was going to let Rion die. She didn't think she could do both- free herself and Rion. She didn't even know where he was. Most likely in the detention block. The risk of getting there and getting him out was too much. Not to mention how would she physically get him out? The last she had seen him through the holo table in Vader's office, he had been strapped to a table missing a foot. Rion wouldn't be able to walk himself out. She wouldn't be able to carry him. She was going to have to leave him behind.

It wasn't an easy decision. In fact the idea of letting the man die was eating away at Padmé. But she couldn't stay here. There were things that she had to protect from Vader. She hated that meant Rion would die. Her dreams and thoughts of late went to Rion. His voice. His soft caresses. Her mind wasn't going to make her betrayal of Rion be easy. But she deserved it.

When she heard the door open, she turned to see Vader stroll in. He was dressed as the Emperor. Something she had only seen in holos never in person. He still wore all black, but his clothes were of a military-cut. Something similar to the Imperial uniforms, but there were no markings or insignia. The outfit had a long black cape flowing behind him.

"I see you've been busy," Padmé said as a greeting. Her eyes went back out the viewport. The battle had ended some time ago. Fighters still zoomed by in formation, and all that was left was clean-up.

"Yes," was all he said as he walked over to the viewport to examine that battlefield. She joined him, but kept a distance between them.

"Anyone I knew?" she asked.

Vader looked over at her. "If you're asking if it was a pathetic rebellion cell, then no."

"Then most likely another lingering Separatist planet to be folded into your empire," she said flatly keeping her gaze focused out the window.

"It is your empire as well." She sharply turned towards him. He was smiling at her. Enjoying her reaction. "You can not be that surprised. I am the emperor and you are my wife. That would make you the empress."

"A title I do not want," she said dryly and with a wave of her hand.

He sighed in obvious frustration. "In time you will," he said softly.

"Doubtful," she mumbled. Yet then she flinched realizing she was most likely starting up another argument. Granted it was how many of their conversations went anyways. The arguments only ended one of two ways: either Padmé let him win or she was gifted with body part of Rion's.

"I do not see it that way at all, Padmé," he said. "I know in time you'll accept your place in time. I'm a patient man." She let out a small huff at that comment. "You laugh, but I almost have everything that is rightfully mine." He paused and she looked over at him. His sulfur eyes bore into her. "But very soon it will all be mine."

Cold fear tore through her. Her mind wanted was starting to go down a path she didn't want it to. Instead she slammed those thoughts, those memories, behind a locked a door deep inside of herself. She let herself turn away from him and stare back into space.

Yes, she had to get away from him. Her guilt about leaving Rion was gone. Instead it was fear. But not for herself and not for Rion. But for the deep secret she kept locked inside. The secret Vader wanted. The secret he had just hinted at acquiring. A secret that was worth far more than Rion's life. Far more than her own life.

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine: The Outfit

It had been two weeks she had been taken prisoner by her husband, Vader. Padmé awoke and found he was gone. This was per the norm. He often left in the early hours of the morning cycle. She glanced over at the chrono on the bedside table. A slight bubble of frustration came up. She was still annoyed she had to ask him for it. She had no doubt he took pleasure from her having to ask him for anything.

She sighed as got out of bed and walked over the large viewport. Another star destroyer floated nearby. It was part of the fleet that was escorting the Devastator. Her eyes moved pass the large ship onto the stars. She was always trying to figure out her location. It was easier when she could see the core of the galaxy and its bright cluster of stars stretching out in space. She could then make out easily identifiable systems. Yet like now, when her view was not at the core, it was hard to tell where she was.

She turned from the viewport and for the first time noticed a large white box on the dresser with a red ribbon. Her blood turned to ice water and the small box that had held the finger in it came to mind. Her thoughts raced. She hadn't stepped out of line at all. What could be in a box that large?

Could this be it? She asked herself. Was he finally going after that deep secret Padmé held?

She didn't want to open it, but felt compelled to do so. She found her chest tight and her breaths small and shallow as she stepped up to the dresser. The red satin bow easily came apart with a small tug. Her hands shook slightly as she pulled the lid up.

She thanked her gods and the Force there were no human body parts. A giant wave of relief flowed through her. Inside was a black garment with a small holoprojector nestled on top. She put the lid to the side and turned the projector on. A small blue holo of Vader appeared.

"Good morning, my love," his voice said. "I have considered your request about new clothes. I hope you find my gift to your satisfaction. Perhaps you should wear it today. I have freed up my schedule. I thought as a reward for your loyalty to your husband and excellent performance of your duties, you might enjoy a walk beyond your chambers. I'll be waiting."

The holo flickered off. Her emotions were all over the place from the message. On one hand she was greatly annoyed by that arrogant cocky smug bastard. She scoffed as she recalled his words of "loyalty" and "excellent performance." Yet she was also a bit happy he had actually listened to her. Then again she was annoyed he always played it out as if he was doing her favor. It was by being in his good graces was she allowed anything.

The request for new clothes had from a conversation a two days ago. It was the day after she had witnessed the battle in space.

"Why do you always wear nightgowns?" he asked her. He had come to join her for the evening meal. "Not that I mind, but you do have a closet of other clothes."

She bit down an irritated sigh and the response she wanted to give to him. Instead she said, "Why bother? I have nowhere to go and no one to see me, except you."

"I would enjoy seeing you dressed up," he said smiling at her.

Padmé rolled her eyes. "Why go through all that effort, just so you could rip it off of me five minutes later?"

He laughed. "I suppose that's true."

"There is nothing practical and comfortable in there for me to wear. It is nothing but gowns. So I just opt to wear the night clothes for now."

They were quiet for a while before Vader spoke up again. "Would you like some new clothes? Practical, comfortable ones as you call it?"

She paused eating and looked at him. He had that horrible smile across his lips. The one he always wore when he was playing his games with her. She debated on answering, not knowing on what she might be bringing upon herself if she agreed.

"Yes," she said softly and braced herself with whatever price he would throw at her for such a request.

"I will consider it," he said and returned to his meal.

Padmé moved the holoprojector to the side and examined the contents of the box. She then got dressed in the outfit. She was torn. Part of her didn't want to do anything he said, but yet part of her desperately wanted to leave her rooms. She reasoned with herself that perhaps she could formulate an escape plan. Anything that brought her closer to getting away from Vader was worth it. She hoped.

The outfit consisted of three pieces: a top, pants, and a jacket. The top was a simple flowing silk black button up. The pants were tight black leather, and also simple. Clearly the main focus was the jacket. Like the other two pieces it was also black. It featured a large turned-down collar and a leather belt. It fell down to her mid-thighs. There was delicate embroidery along the collar, cuffs, and belt. It featured curling vine motifs. However it was done in a black shimmering thread, so one only caught brief glimpses of the pattern when the light hit it.

Padmé doubted it would be anything she might personally pick out, but it was far better than the lavish untouched gowns in the closet. At least in this she could move with ease. She put her hair into a single braid, and then looped it up into a bun. She was not in the mood do anything else to make herself look good, especially for him.

Done getting dressed, she made her way into the living area. Vader was laying on a couch. He was stretched out, his arms folded behind his head. His eyes clothes. Padmé let a small snort of air out in frustration as she walked over to him. Yet he didn't move. She paused, crossing her arms across her chest, waiting for him to wake up. She knew he wasn't really sleeping.

It was all just another game to him. She was going to have to wake him up. She debated on it. What she wanted to do was attack him. Grab a pillow from the bed and smother him. Tighten her hands around his throat. To be finally free of him, but alas. She knew it would never work. Instead she bent over and pinched his nose shut.

He immediately opened his eyes and let out a small laugh. "That's how your wake up your husband?" he said as he looked up at her. She responded by glaring at him. His hands came and grabbed at her waist and then pulled her down. She fell on top of him and his hands were quickly pulling her so her upper body was against his. His hands came up to her cheeks as he brought her face up to his.

"I was hoping for something a bit more intimate," he said in a deep husky voice.

She knew where this was going, and she let it. His lips met hers and started to kiss her. She kissed back. It was like flipping a switch. She let her body run in autopilot. She was just going through the motions that he wanted. But deep down inside of her, her real self, her core, she kept locked away. It was the only she had kept herself sane. It was the only way she was able to go through this day after day.

When he was done he pulled her close and just held her. They stayed like for a long time. She tried to stay as relaxed as she could. She made herself take deep even breaths. Eventually he stirred and said, "I do believe I said we'd go for a walk. Shall we get going?"

She untangled herself from him, and the two stood up. He smoothed down his expensive well-tailored black clothes. Padmé noticed for the first his lightsaber was clipped to his belt. She hadn't seen him wear it once inside these rooms. The last time she'd seen it was back in the cell. He offered his arm to her, she took it.

He led her to the back door, the one by the kitchen. Once through the door they were in a small short corridor. They paused as the door behind them open. Only then did the door in front open. Padem frowned to herself. If she had to guess, both doors couldn't be open at the same time.

Once pass the next door they were in a gray corridor. It was featureless. She glanced up and down the hallway before Vader lead her down to the left. He lead her to a turbolift, and then once out down a few more featureless hallways. She saw no one else. No troopers or officers or even cleaning droids. Had he cleared the hallways? Did he not want anyone to see her?

It wasn't the first time her mind thought to what was happening out in the galaxy. Had Vader announced her capture? Closed off her bounty? Had he used her defeat in a new wave of Imperial propaganda? She didn't know.

Her mind went back to her crew and rebel cell. She often found herself questioning what happened on the junker ship. She had clearly been captured, but how had Rion been captured? He had been on the Helios Eclipse. Had he taken a small ship over to the junkers when she didn't report back? What happened to the others who were also on the junker ship?

They made a turn through two large double doors. She noticed at once this appeared to be the detention block. She sucked in a breath as her insides started go cold. Again there was no one here. Not even at the front desk. Vader lead her forward down a hall of cells. He finally stopped at door, which opened with a soft swishing noise.

Inside the cell was a metal table with a figure strapped on to it. A few life support machines stood nearby keeping the individual alive. Padmé felt a lump in her throat as she slowly approached the table. She knew what she would see. It was Rion. She instantly sought out the missing hand, foot, and finger. Of course she couldn't see the tongue.

Slowly anger and grief started to swirl and bubble up inside of her. She looked at Rion's face, now thin and sunken. His skin was pale, almost translucent in places where his blue veins showed through. He looked like a corpse.

Padmé spun. Vader was right behind her. His face a bit emotionless. As if he was bored.

"What- what is this?" she demanded. "This isn't what I agreed upon!"

"Are you accusing me of not keeping up my end of the bargain?" he said as he raised one eyebrow. "I said I would let him live." Vader paused as he glanced over at the figure on the table unphased. "And he's alive."

"You call this living? He's not even conscious!"

He sighed as if irritated. "I feel you're being a bit ungrateful."

"Ungrateful?" She was taken aback. "What is there to be grateful about?"

"He's alive. He's also generally pain free."

"He's in a coma!"

Vader stepped forward placing his hands on her shoulders. "Padmé, his fate rests on you. You're still adjusting to your proper role." She bit her tongue and clenched her teeth from the retort that died in her mouth. "If you continue as you have," he said as he leaned forward bringing his face closer to hers, "I will continue to reward you. But in case there is ever a need for more . . . Shall we say reminders? I can always make this situation worse. As you can see I am expressing a great deal of kindness to this man."

He straightened up and took his hands off her shoulders. He walked towards the corner of the room where a metal cabinet stood.

"But perhaps you need a bit of proof to show you I'm genuine in my promises?" he said with his back still towards her. Which promises was he thinking of? She asked herself. He had just promised to make his life worse or better depending on how she continued to put on her act of the wife. He opened the cabinet and then moved off to the side so she could see what sat on the shelves. She could clearly make out a prosthetic foot and hand.

"You can make his life much more comfortable. Perhaps even bring it back to something normal?" Vader said as he picked up the prosthetic foot. He walked back over to the medical table and placed the foot next to the stump on Rion's leg.

Padmé just stared. She clenched her teeth, accidentally biting the inside of her cheek. She could taste blood, but she didn't release the muscles in her jaw. She didn't know what to say. She was afraid that whatever she said Vader would twist it against her. She would play more into his games, as this surely was. So for now she opted to stay silent.

Vader just watched her for a moment. Padmé could tell out of her peripheral vision that he was watching her, but her eyes weren't on him. Instead she was looking at Rion.

"Perhaps we should discuss this elsewhere?" Vader said finally breaking the silence. He moved and stood in front of her, blocking her view of the man on the table. He gently brought his hand up to her face and tilted her head so that she looked at him. "Shall we talk over lunch?" he offered with a warm voice and warm eyes, which only made Padmé shiver with cold.

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten: The Lunch

Vader wrapped an arm around Padmé's shoulders and led her from Rion's cell. Just as they reached the door, she glanced behind her to get one last look at Rion. She made sure his chest was rising and falling, before she was pulled out of the room and the door swished shut. She let out a long sigh as she looked up at Vader. He still had the warm small smile on his lips.

He thinks he's doing me some kind of kindness, she mused to herself. Vader led her down the hallway of the detention block, but not back the way they came. They went further down the hallway of cells. She couldn't help but frown.

She wondered when his next game would start to play out. She figured that the outfit, Rion's cell, the prosthetic limbs, were merely the start. She hated not knowing, but she started to mentally steel herself for what was to come next. What else could the horrible man ask of her? A cold fear ran through with the thought of what it could possibly be.

Sadly the only way she would know was to keep walking down the hall of cells. They came to the end of the hallway. In front of them stood a door and Vader pressed the door panel. The door slid open and the two walked in. The room was not that deep. It was thin and bit long. The far wall held two durasteel shutters, clearly made to slide back. Padmé realized this was some type of viewing room, but a viewing room for what? It was the detention block. Was it an interrogation room beyond? An execution room?

Though what was most unsettling was the small table set up in the middle of the room. It was a round table with a white tablecloth draped over it. Two chairs sat on either side. The table was set with fine looking dinnerware. Nearby stood a trolley with cloche covered plates and a bucket of ice with a bottle of wine in it.

"Ah our lunch," Vader said light heartedly. As if this was a normal occurrence. Just a light lunch between a married couple. Vader walked to one of the chairs and stood behind it. He guesterd to the other empty chair.

Padmé felt numb. She felt like she had to manually work her lungs into breathing. If she didn't tell herself to take a breath, her body might not breath on its own. It felt like she moved in slow motion as she sat down in the chair opposite of Vader.

His smile never left his face as watched her. Once she was seated, he picked up the domed-covered plates and sat one in front of her as himself. He then popped the cork on the wine and poured them both a glass. As he reached out to lift the cloches from the plates, Padmé couldn't help but remember the last time this scene had played out. Underneath the plate covering had been Rion's foot. The price she had paid for refusing to sleep Vader.

Vader pulled the cloches off the plates. Underneath was a normal looking meal. Padmé let out a sigh of relief. Vader placed the cloches back on the trolley and sat down. At once he started to eat, but Padmé only looked at the food. She had no appetite. Her inside felt tight as dread and fear boiled inside of her.

"Not hungry, my angel?" Vader asked after taking a sip of his wine. "You haven't eaten anything at all today. You must be hungry. I recommend the fish."

Padmé glanced down at the square cut of seared fish on her plate. For the first time, she became aware of the smell of the food. The smells traveled down her throat, which seemed to constrict and widen. She felt nauseous. If she ate anything or even put a single morsel in her mouth, she was certain she would throw up.

Vader put down his fork and looked over at her. He sighed and shook his head softly. "Was seeing him making you that distraught?" Vader asked. His voice was still warm. When he started to speak, Padmé had tensed up. She was ready for his fake concern to drop. For the monster he really was to slither out. A small moment passed before he spoke up again. "I did say we could discuss making that pathetic man's life better. But I see this whole thing has you too worked up."

"No," she said softly but sternly. Vader's yellow eyes never left her. His smile grew a small bit.

"Very well," he said. "What is it that you want for that man, Padmé?"

She just stared at him. She wasn't sure what he was playing at. What did she want for Rion? For him to be free. For not be involved in any of this. He was innocent. Yet he was being punished for her supposed crimes against this monster. Yet she didn't voice this.

As if reading her thoughts, she knew he could, Vader spoke up. "I can't let him be free. You know that. But I can make his life better. Give him the prosthetics. Bring him out of a coma. Give him a room instead of a cell. At least make his life a comfortable prisoner."

"That's sounds . . ." Padmé glanced down at her lap. " . . . very generous of you." She took a deep breath gathering her courage. She was ready to move this along.

"It is," he said pleased.

"What is the price of what you're suggesting?"

He paused and he looked back at the door. As if he was looking down the hallway, back to Rion's cell. "I believe all of those things could be earned in time, as long as you continue to stay in your place." He glanced back at over at her. "Perhaps I let you earn one thing right now? Shall you take him out of his coma? Give him one of the prosthetics? Move him into a better cell? I'll let you choose."

She couldn't stop the small chuckle that left her lips. She was painfully aware of his words. He was pinning this all on her. It was all her doing. None of this was his doing. Only she could make Rion's life better, for as Vader believed it was she who had brought Rion into this mess. Each and every of Rion's wounds was her fault. It was her fault she had left Vader, slept with Rion, and thus caused Vader to injure and mutilate the man.

"You still haven't named the price for such a thing," she answered bringing her head up straighter. "None of this is about what I want. It's not even about Rion," she said in a low voice. "This is all about you. What is it that you want, your majesty? What is it that you want from me?"

"Still the politician, my love," he said smiling.

She bit back the reply she wanted to throw at him. She wanted to tell him he was still the sadist playing around with people. He was still the cruel man she met back in the cell who gleefully sliced off a man's arm.

"Very well," Vader said breaking Padmé out of her thoughts. "I'll name my price. It's quite simple. I want to know what happened when I left for Mustafar." She took in a sharp intake of air. No longer was his face amused. His eyes bore into her. He was serious. "I always thought you left me, but you claim it was I that left you."

"What?" she asked a bit taken aback by his statement. "When did I ever say-"

He cut her off with a wave of his hand. "In your first days here. When you still had your fever. You called my name, crying, asking why I left you."

She glanced down as she desperately tried to recall the conversation, but she couldn't. Was he lying to her? Or did she say such things? She didn't know. Her fever had been strong. There were gaps in her memory during that time as she faded in between consciousness and dreams.

"I know you were speaking the truth," his voice was low. Almost a whisper. "Why is it you think I left you? I want to know the truth. The whole truth."

She couldn't go down this path. This was leading to a place she wouldn't allow her to take him.

"Was it Obi-Wan?" His voice was low and dangerous. His eyes seemed to have taken on a red tint around the rim. The temperature in the room seemed to cooled. "You've already mentioned some of what happened, my love. You said he came to you. Said he wanted to kill me. You left for Mustafar to warn me, but that is where the story ends. In your fevered words it wasn't clear what happened next. You said you blacked out. You said when you came to I was gone. That had left you."

She stared wide-eyed at him. She couldn't believe she had told him that much about the events of five years ago. She couldn't believe she told him a word. How had he gotten it out of her? What horrible mind tricks did he perform? However, she gave a quick and silent prayer to her gods. She hadn't told him everything.

She had to think quick. He was not going to let this go. She was going to have to give some of the truth up, which was fine by her.

"You did leave me!" she blurted out. She let the pain and hurt ring out in her words. He didn't react, just continued to stare at her cooly. "You were gone!" She placed her hands on the table and braced herself and stood up. He still didn't move or react. "The man I loved was gone. And this," she nodded at him, "had replaced him."

Her eyes were starting to water, but she continued. "Yes, Obi-Wan came to me the day the Republic died. The day Palpatine became Emperor. He told me he was going to kill you. I couldn't let that happen! So I went to find you, but . . . but . . ." The tears were starting to fall. "When the ship exited hyperspace above Mustafar. I . . . I . . . blacked out. I don't know. I don't remember!"

Vader stood up and walked to stand next to her. She could feel the warmth of his body in the cold room. She could hear his even breathing. She looked at him. His stern face and frown were blurry through her tears.

"I woke up two months later," she continued. "And my husband was gone! Anakin was gone!" She used the name. She didn't care what it earned her. Her fear had been overwritten by her anger and grief. "Instead there was youVader. You had left me. You left me for power."

He brought his hands up and placed them on her shoulders. She flinched expecting the hands to grip into her. To find him angry and forceful, but the hands just gently rested on her. She blinked through her tears to get a good look at his face. Did he look a bit remorseful?

"I never left you," he said. His voice was soft. It sounded a bit sad.

"Don't lie," she said. She tried to step back, away from him, but his hands gripped her shoulders. Preventing her from stepping away. "You're not him. You admit it yourself. You're not Anakin. Each time I use that name, I get reminded by a bloody gift that you are Vader."

"Anakin Skywalker was weak!" he roared. "Anakin couldn't save you, so I destroyed him."

Again Padmé tried to take a step back, but again she couldn't due to his strong grip. She looked up at the man once known as Anakin. His gold eyes seem to glow down at her.

"Save me?"

"I did this all for you. All for us!" His grip was digging into her. It was starting to hurt. "I wasn't going to lose you the way I lost my mother! I've become more powerful than any Jedi or Sith has ever dreamed of! I did it for you! To protect you!"

"No . . ." she said softly shaking her head.

"Don't you see, Padmé?" he continued. "I've brought peace to the galaxy. I've made things the way I want them to be. Together you and I can rule the galaxy."

"Obi-Wan was right all along," she whispered in horror hearing his words.

"Obi-Wan," he hissed. "Obi-Wan took you from me! He turned you against me!"

"No," she said. Her voice was calm and steady, but it rose until she was shouting as she continued. "You did that yourself. You did that when you killed the Jedi. When you killed younglings. When you killed Palpatine! When you killed millions of innocents who dared defy you!"

A tense silence fell between them. Their eyes locked. His eyes burned yellow, yet she didn't look away. She didn't want to be the one to back down. To cower.

"You will come to see everything I have done for you," Darth Vader said in a low tone. "You will come to appreciate everything. You will accept your place by my side."

"No," she said a bit sadly. "I can't. I can't follow you down this path."

"You don't have a choice," he hissed.

"What happened to wanting a willing wife?" she scoffed.

"I'll have it," he growled. "I'll have it all. My empire. My wife. My children."

Instant fear spiked through her as ice pumped through her body. She couldn't. She wouldn't. The one thing she couldn't let him have. The one thing, the one very thought, she kept hidden inside of herself.

He leaned forward so his face was closer to hers. "Now tell me, my angel," he snarled. "Where are my children?"

Chapter Text

Chapter Eleven: The Crew

"Now tell me, my angel," Darth Vader's voice dripped with venom. "Where are my children?"

Padmé jerked away from him. He let her go. She took a few steps away, but she couldn't go much further. The room wasn't that deep. He straightened. His eyes seemed to glow in his anger.

"Where are they?" he growled.

"No," she said a low voice. "No! Never! You'll never get that from me! You'll never have them!"

"They are mine!" he shouted. It felt as if to Padmé a dark pressure was filling the room. Hatred seemed to be pressing down on her. "You dare keep them away from me? Their own father!"

"Yes!" Padmé shouted back. "I would never let them near this monster!"

"They belong here," Vader growled lowly. "They belong with me. Just like you do. Their proper place in this galaxy is by my side."

"There is nothing you can do to make me tell you where they are," she hissed back at him.

"Oh?" he said amused a small smile coming to his face. "Shall we test that out?"

Ice inside of her seemed to grow only colder. Vader walked over to the shutters on the far wall. He pressed a control panel and the shutters started to slide open to reveal a transparisteel window. The window was long, almost as long as the room. It revealed another room beyond the viewing room she was in.

Padmé's breathing became painful. In the other room sat nine chairs with nine individuals in each one. Each person was strapped to the chair. A stormtrooper stood behind each one. She recognized them instantly. It was her team. The leaders of her Rebel cell. Her Lucky Ten, except Rion who was still in his cell. All nine of them were there: the Twi-lek, the Rodian, the elderly human couple, the Arkanian scientist, the clone trooper, the young human slicer, the odd woman, and the Talz.

They were each conscious and seemed to be looking around the room. Most of them appeared worse for wear. A few sported bruises. Some sported scrapes. They all looked haggard and tired.

"No," she whispered.

"You're probably right," Vader mused. "There probably is nothing I could do to you to get you to reveal where you've hidden my children. You would probably take that secret to your grave. But you do have one glaring weakness, my angel." He paused as he glanced over at her. "You care far too much for others. Like that scum in the other cell."

Padmé stared wide-eyed at her comrades. She found herself moving to the window and placing a hand on the transparisteel. Her teammates were looking around, clearly very conscious and not sedated. Yet while their eyes traveled along the window, their eyes never stopped at her. They couldn't see through the window. They couldn't see her. But she could see them. She could see the fear in their eyes.

Suddenly the trooper behind the first chair, pulled out his blaster, and shot the occupant in the head. The former slave Twi'lek. The other individuals jumped in the restrained chairs and screamed. One or two started to cry. Padmé brought up her hand to her mouth, yet she didn't cry.

"It's quite simple," Vader said as he walked up beside her, looking out the window. He looked unphased. His hands were clasped behind his back. "Tell me where my children are. When you do, I'll order the troopers to stop killing them."

"No," Padmé whispered. She turned her back to the window, she couldn't watch. But Vader was there. He was too quick for her. Her grabbed her and spun her. He pressed her to the window. Her breath created clouds of fog in front of her.

"You will watch this," Vader snarled. "Watch as they die due to your decisions. Due to your mistakes from keeping my children from me." Her body started to shake. She couldn't. She wouldn't. There was no way she could betray her precious innocent babies.

"It didn't have to be like this, Padmé," Vader continued. His voice low. "It's all your fault. You ran away from me. Hid my children away from me. If you had stayed by my side as you're suppose to, none of this would have happened. They wouldn't have to die."

Her body started to tremble more. Grief rolled over her. It swirled with the waves of fear growing within her. The fears for her children. The fears for her team. She watched in silent horror as a trooper brought up another blaster and shot another teammate point blank. The Rodian slumped in his chair. She let out a small whimper. The whole galaxy seemed to be crushing down on her. She felt hollow and empty.

Tears started to roll down her cheeks. She thought she had no more tears, but her grief and turmoil were too strong. Though her vision was blurry she could make out each time a stormtrooper walked up to chair. Each time the blaster shot ran out, her whole body would recoil in reaction.

Despite the pain and guilt that washed over her, she couldn't deliver on what Vader wanted. She couldn't give him anything about his children. She didn't question how it was he knew there was more than one child. There were no official records of her twins' birth. Everything had been erased to avoid detection. Everything had been to keep Vader unaware of his children. The moment Padmé saw him in cell, when the white hood was pulled from her head, she knew he would ask, no demand, to know about his children. It was wishful thinking of hers that he wouldn't, since he hadn't brought it up in the two weeks.

She only let herself dwell on the matter when he wasn't there. When he was around she made sure she kept all thoughts of her children securely locked away and hidden. She didn't want a stray thought floating in her mind where he might be able to somehow hear it. Yet, when he was gone, it was hard to fight back the fear and the anxiety. After seeing what Vader had done to Rion, what Vader had done to simply get her in his bed, she feared what he would do to get his children.

Padmé knew it was going to be worse. She knew that no matter what she couldn't give in. She knew innocent lives were probably going to die because of her. She tried her best to harden her heart. To tell herself it was for the best, but as each shot rang out, pain stabbed through her. Vader was right. They were dying because of her. All she had to do was open her mouth to save at least one of them, but she didn't.

After the ninth shot went out and the ninth body went slack, Vader finally released her. She slid down to the floor and crumpled into a heap. Pain pounded through her heart and radiated out in her body. Though she herself had not been shot, if felt like she had been. Nine times in the heart. Her body shook and trembled on the cold floor, and she let the darkness take her.

She dreamed.

The sound of crying babies rang through the darkness. Padmé moved through a darkened hallway, but she moved on unsteady feet. She was wobbly and had to keep pressing her hand to the wall for support. Yet she kept moving forward towards the crying. Finally her hand fell upon a door frame and she moved into a dimly lit room. The furniture was nothing but shadows, but she could make out the crib.

She swayed on her feet, but gathered herself and pushed on. The crying continued. Her hands gripped tightly to the edge of the crib as she looked down. There was nothing inside. The crib was empty. Cold. The crying had stopped.

"No," she said softly but with deep despair.

"Don't worry," a smooth voice said. "I've got them."

She snapped her head up. A shadowed figure stood in the room obviously cradling a baby. Though she couldn't make the figure, she knew it was him. She knew it was it was his voice.

"No," she said again. Her voice barely a whisper. More a breath. "Give them back."

"They're where they belong," he said again.

"No," she croaked as she pushed herself away from the crib into the darkness towards him. She made her way on wobbly legs towards the shadow. "You can't," she pleaded into the darkness. "You can't have them!"

She was almost there, but two or three more steps. She reached out her arms, ready to take the child away. To have it safe in her arms. Yet then the child's head turned towards her and opened its eyes. Padmé stopped in her tracks. Large glowing yellow eyes stared at her from the shadowed form of the baby.

"They're mine," his shadow hissed very softly.

"No," Padmé said as she backed away. The yellow eyes of the child bore into her. "No," she cried. She turned and fled out of the room and back down the hallway. No longer were her legs unsteady. She raced. She turned down another hallway and then another. The hallways were endless, no doors, no windows, no way out.

She tripped and fell to the ground. She caught herself on her hands. She pushed herself over and let herself lean against the nearby wall. Her body trembled. Part of her was out of breath from running. Part of her was cold. Part of it was fear. She curled up, bringing her knees up to her chest. She buried her head into her knees. The image of the baby with the yellow eyes haunted her.

"My baby," she cried to herself.

"Momma?"

She snapped her head up. Ahead of her stood two small shadows. One was clearly a boy and the other a girl. She knew they were about five years old. No longer babies as they had been the last time she had seen them in real life. The last time she had held them.

"We found you!" one said happily. Padmé brought her knees down and opened her arms. The two small children both came into her arms. She hugged them. She kissed their heads. They muttered momma into her hair.

"Momma are you alright?" one asked.

"Yes," she said. "Yes I'm fine now that you're here."

"Then why did you run away?" the other asked.

The two stepped away from her. They were looking at her.

"What?" she asked.

"Why did you run away from us?" She wasn't sure which one asked.

"I didn't," she said. "I didn't run away from you!"

"Yes you did," one spoke out. "Your ran away from us just now when we were with daddy."

A bolt of cold ran down Padmé's back. She opened her mouth to speak, but couldn't find the words. The two children turned to each other. They looked at each other for a moment before turning back to her. When they turned back, both of their eyes were glowing yellow.

"It's ok momma," one of them said softly as if trying to console her.

"No," she said. She pushed with her legs to stand up, but found she couldn't She could only crawl backwards away from the shadows of her children.

"She's going to run again!" one of them cried out in despair.

"Momma don't run away from us!"

The two children followed her calmly.

"No," she repeated. These weren't her children. She could no longer tell them apart from the boy and the girl. There were just children-shaped shadows with yellow eyes. One of the shadows dashed ahead and threw their arms around Padmé's neck. She tensed. Her body rigid. She didn't move to embrace this child.

"Momma!" it cried into her hair. "Please don't run. Stay here with us. With daddy."

Her breathing was sharp and painful in her chest.

"We'll just have to make sure she can't run away," said the other child. The small shadow that had wrapped itself around Padmé, pulled back to look at its sibling. The other shadow now held a small glowing lightsaber. Its beam red. Despite the bright red light, the two children were still nothing more than shadows.

The child that had hugged her stepped back and stood next to the one holding the saber. Then the two walked closer to her, together.

"Yes," one child said. "Let's make sure she can't run."

"She'll stay here forever. With us. With daddy. Where she belongs"

The one holding the lightsaber brought it up. Padmé opened her mouth. She wasn't sure what she was going to say, but no words came out. The lightsaber slashed down, slicing across her legs. Yet she didn't react. She felt as if she was frozen. She stayed in the same position, watching as the bottom part of her legs simply disappeared.

The two children rushed up to her, wrapping their arms around her neck. The peppered her cheeks and head with kisses. They were so happy. One of the children's head moved to her ear. She could feel the child's breath in her hair.

In a soft whisper the child said, "You can't run now."

She awoke with a start, sitting straight up. She was back in her room in her bed. The black outfit was gone, and she was wearing her undergarments. Her heart pounded in her chest. She brought her hand up to her heart, feeling it beat furiously under her touch. Her mind raced as she recalled the dream. As she recalled the last part of it, she threw back to the covers. Her legs were still there.

Then she glanced to her side. The bed was empty. Her eyes moved across the room, but it was also empty. She was alone. But she still felt them. The phantom shadows of her children. She still felt their small arms wrapping around her. She still felt their small kisses. She still heard their small voices.

"You can't run now."

Chapter Text

Chapter Twelve: The Contemplation

Strong vibrations woke Padmé from the dreamless slumber. She hadn't realized she had fallen back asleep. Again the ship trembled, the objects in the room slightly rattled. She pushed herself up on one elbow and looked towards the massive viewport.

The large curve of a planet took up most of the view. Orange and brown clouds were seen swirling in the atmosphere of the planet below. Padmé couldn't place the planet off the top of her head. She shivered and realized her body was cold. She had fallen asleep with the covers off. She got out of bed and pulled the giant comforter blanket off. She wrapped herself in it, then walked to the viewport.

Two other star destroyers were nearby. Their canons faced down to the planet unleashing their firepower into the orange clouds below. TIE fighters swarm around the fleet. Every now and then she would make out bright bolts and a small explosion. Yet the majority of the fighting must be happening beyond her view.

Padmé thought about what this planet had done to deserve the Emperor's wrath. She wondered if it deserved a planetary bombardment from Vader's personal fleet. Most likely it did not. Just like her crew and fellow rebels hadn't deserved to die. Just like the people of Ryx Station hadn't deserved to be bombed by TIE fighters. There were so many more who perished under the commands of Emperor Vader that didn't deserve their violent ends.

What was she going to do? Vader's words haunted her. "But you do have one glaring weakness, my angel. You care far too much for others." Vader had already taken her crew from her, what was next? And there would be something that was next, she had no doubt. Fear crept into her heart as her mind tried to figure out what he might do to find the location of his children.

Of her children.

She closed her eyes and saw the two shadow children from her dreams. Their eyes glowing yellow. She couldn't allow that to come to pass. She couldn't allow Vader to corrupt her children. Yet how much would she be able to handle? The horrible monster was right. She did have a price. She was too concerned for others. How much could she let Vader take from her before she broke?

She took a deep breath and chased the images of the nightmare away. Instead she called upon the real memories of her children. Though she kept such memories and thoughts tightly locked away, she found that once she reached for them they easily surfaced. What always came first was the smell. Then the laughter. Followed by the feeling of the smooth, soft skin and feathery hair.

Then they came into focus. She saw her twins as she had last seen them. The two were barley a year old. Leia had her mother's soft brown curls on her head with large brown eyes. Luke every bit of his father with blonde hair and sky blue eyes. The babies would reach for their mother and coo and smile at her. How much the two filled Padmé's heart with love.

She had enjoyed every moment she had with the children. She had missed the first two months of their lives. That had been too much time to miss. As such she tried to spend every moment she could with the two. Even when it was tiring and frustrating to care for two children by herself, she cherished every moment. She wouldn't trade a single second of it.

She loved watching them grow as they learned to smile, roll over, and sit up. She remembered feeding them mashed up fruit for the first time. Leia had enjoyed it greatly, while Luke had made faces and spit it all out. She remembered rocking the two twins, one tucked on each side of her, to sleep trying her best to sing lullabies Padmé had learned from her own mother.

Yet no matter how wonderful Padmé's children were, no matter how much joy they brought her, no matter how much love she had for them, she couldn't chase away the cold fear. She and the children were always on the move. They couldn't stay in one place for long. It was simply too dangerous. Vader had been hunting Padmé the moment he had returned from Mustafar and found her gone.

Already he had placed a one million credit bounty on her. With such a bounty, it was never wise to linger. A month was the longest she had stayed in one place. It was tiring not only on her but on the twins as well. And all through this was the holonet news. Padmé tried to avoid it. She didn't have to turn it on. She didn't have to listen. Sometimes she was successful. She went a few days just enjoying her two young babies. But then when the two were napping, or when she would wake from her own memories and dreams, her weakness got the better of her. Her curiosity was too strong.

Whatever joy the twins brought would come crashing down at the news of what their father had become. Padmé hadn't been satisfied with the state-sanctioned propaganda-filled news. She had to know the truth. She had to know what had become of her husband and father of her children. She had to know what the Empire that she unknowingly helped create was really doing.

And the truth was horrible. It bore down at Padmé's heart. It forced her into a deep depression. The only thing keeping her going was the small laughter of two small children. Their small hands grabbing onto one of Padmé's fingers. But no matter how much she tried to focus on her children, she couldn't get rid of the oppressive weight the truth brought.

One night she sat alone after the twins had fallen asleep. A cup of caf had gone cold. Her body was tense. She was anxious. She felt as if any moment the door would explode open and stormtroopers would pour in, seizing her and the children. Her thoughts were speeding through her mind. She thought of her children. Her husband. The empire.

What future did her children have? By this time the twins were almost one year old. Already they had lived in a dozen places. Flown on twice as many spacecraft. What was their life to be like as they grew older? Would they have friends? Would they go to school? Would they turn into their mother, wide awake at night, glancing at the door, fearing white amour and the sound of blasters? Or worse, the sound of a lightsaber?

Padmé had to something. She could no longer just sit and hide away. She had to take action. She had to make the galaxy a better place for her children. She couldn't let them grow up in the oppressed galaxy of the Empire. Padmé had helped create this mess, and she would help tear it down.

And deep down she secretly hoped and prayed that underneath Darth Vader there was still Anakin Skywalker. She just needed to get rid of Palpatine and his horrible influence on her husband. With the empire and emperor gone, she could take her husband and the they could run away from it all. They could all live together again. A whole family as it should have always been.

The decision to revolt and rebel against the empire had been easy. The decision to leave her children had been heartbreaking. Others had tried to talk her out of it, but in the end she wouldn't be swayed. It had been decided it would be best for the twins to be seperated, which broke Padmé's heart into smaller pieces. Already the two were being taken away from their mother, and now away from each other. She hoped they were still too young to realize what was happening.

But they had to be seperated. Padmé and her allies had gone through great lengths to make sure Vader and the Emperor did not learn of her children, especially the fact that there were twins. If the twins ever fell into Imperial hands at least the other child would be safe. It would be too dangerous to keep them together.

She still recalled her last day with her children. She had spent every second painfully aware this would be the last time in a while she would be with them. She constantly broke into tears, but always quickly recovered not wanting to ruin the moment. After she put them to bed, she took a strong sedative. Her allies would take the children away while she slept. She couldn't watch them be taken from her. When she awoke they were gone. It was only her and the empty cold crib.

How the gaping wound inside her grew that day. It felt like it was constantly bleeding for months. The separation of her children. The darkness of her husband. The fall of the Republic. It all made her wound bleed. It was no wonder that when Rion came along, offering some relief, that she gratefully accepted it.

With that she thought back to Rion in his cell and the nine dead bodies in the chairs in the viewing room. She knew she had to be strong. Whatever Vader did next, she couldn't cave into him. Eventually he would run out of ideas. She just had to shoulder whatever horror and heartache he would bring next.

Padmé heard the door swish open and she brought out of her deep thoughts. She wasn't sure how long she had been sitting on the floor in front of the viewport with the comforter blanket wrapped around her. Her forehead rested against the cold transparisteel. She didn't move as she heard his footsteps approach her.

"Excellent," Vader said. "I had hoped you saw some of that demonstration. I wouldn't call it a battle . . ."

Padmé tuned his voice out. He had come to stand next to the viewport. She had only given him the briest glimpse possible. He was dressed in his usual all black clothing. His hands were clasped behind his back as looked down at the planet below.

"Padmé?" his voice called out. She blinked a few times and shook her head slightly. He crouched down on the floor next to her. "Padmé?" he called again. Finally she looked at him. His hand reached for her face, cupping her cheek into his palm.

Padmé was instantly drawn to his face. He was concerned. His brows were furrowed in worry. A small frown pulled at his lips. But what drew her attention the most was his eyes. They weren't the horrible yellow. They were blue. A wonderful sky blue. Instantly she thought of her Anakin. Of the millions of times she had looked into those eyes.

"Padmé?" he called again. She had yet to respond to her. Part of her knew she should, but part of her was just too tired. Instead she just slumped forward into him. Her quickly caught her, bringing her to his chest. Then she felt him pulling her free of her blanket cocoon. He carried her to the bed. It felt good to laying back down. She was ready to get some sleep. Yet before she could close her eyes, she was being picked up again.

Once Padmé was secured in Vader's grasp, he took powerful quick strides from the room. He quickly moved to the back door by the small kitchen. Then Padmé was blinking from the harsh lights of the corridor beyond. Every now and then Vader would glance down at her. His face etched in more worry and concern. She realized he would sometimes call her name, but she hadn't heard it.

She didn't care. She was tired. Far more tired than she thought she was. Her eyelids felt so heavy, and when she closed them it felt so good. She awoke to more harsh lights and noise. She realized she had dozed off for a moment. She was no longer in Vader's arm, but laying down on a cold hard bed.

Other figures came in and out of her vision. There were other voices. Padmé blinked a few times, trying to bring her vision into focus. It took longer than she thought it should, but when she did she noticed the white coats and uniforms of the people hovering around her. She instantly recognize them as doctors and nurses. She noted two med droids hovering nearby as well.

She felt Vader before she saw him. How she hadn't noticed him standing directly next to her bed earlier, she didn't know. She glanced up at him, but his eyes were not on her. His arms were folded, his face in a large scowl, and his eyes were yellow. A male doctor walked up to him holding a datapad. It was clear the doctor was nervous as he kept glancing down at his datapad.

Padmé did her best to concentrate on what was being said.

"Dehydration and some malnourishment, your majesty," the doctor said. "The patient should be able to make a quick recovery. I recommend . . ." She stopped listening.

Padmé looked to the ceiling. She thought, Dehydration? When was the last time I had anything to eat or drink? Not since the night before I got that outfit. Two days ago?

Padmé let out a deep sigh and again let herself fall asleep to the sounds of the medbay. When she woke up, she was back in her room. Back in Vader's prison. She did note an IV was still stuck into her arm. An IV drip bag hung off a slim metal stand next to the bed.

"Padmé."

She turned towards his voice. He was laying in bed next to her, but on top of the covers. He was dressed. It didn't look like he had been resting. Had he been watching over her? He moved closer to her. His body coming alongside hers. He leaned over and brought his flesh hand over to her far cheek. He gently turned her head so she was looking at him. His head rested on the pillow next to hers.

Immediately she looked to his eyes, and they were blue. She blinked a few times just to make sure she wasn't seeing things, and yes they were blue. Not the sickly sulfur yellow, but blue. He looked at her, deep concern drawn across his face.

"Padmé, how are you feeling?" he asked. Even his voice sounded concerned. But she didn't answer back. Not out of spite, but she was just too tired. She wasn't even sure where her voice was. He brought his head closer as he kissed her forehead. After a few small gentle kisses, his head rested against hers.

"I'm so sorry, Padmé," he said in a very soft whisper. "I'm so sorry," he said again.

Who was this man Padmé wondered. With his blue eyes and genuine concern. Had she been right all those years ago? Did Anakin still really exist under Darth Vader?

"I'm sorry," he repeated. "I won't let anything take you from me. Nothing. You're mine."

A cold wave washed over her as she realized that this man was still Vader. He may look like Anakin and sound like him. But no, he was still Vader. Perhaps Anakin was truly dead. Those words confirmed it for her. He wasn't going to let anyone or anything take her away from him.

Everyone has their price.

His own words echoed in her head as a new horrible thought came across her mind. Vader didn't have a price. Not for or her children. He would give anything to have them, to possess them. It became very clear to her. Vader wouldn't run out of ideas. He would destroy the entire galaxy if it meant securing his family. Securing what he believed was rightfully his and his alone.

Chapter Text

Chapter Thirteen: The Home

Over the next few days, Vader behaved very gentle towards Padmé. Beyond peppering her with small kisses from time to time, he made no other physical advances towards her. Even his horrible anger had been tempered. He was always calm and a bit soft spoken towards her. His horrible smug smile hadn't graced his face once. She was spared any cocky responses.

He also hadn't brought up the children again. Yet she knew it was only a matter of time before he did. She knew it was only a matter of time for this whole facade to crumble away. For the real Darth Vader to crawl back out. For his claws to sink into her.

She sat on the couch in the living area. The ship had recently exited hyperspace and now the stars floated lazily in the viewport. She had yet to go over and look at the stars to see if she could discern her location in the galaxy. Instead she sat skimming through one of the holonovels that sat on the shelf near the viewport. As she expected, it was rather boring and predictable, but her boredom had driven her to pick it up.

Then she heard the soft click of the door unlocking, the swishing noise of the door sliding open, and the sound of boots approaching her. She sighed as turned the holonovel off and placed it on the sofa next to her. Vader was dressed as he usually was when he was with her. He wore simple but nice and tailored black clothing. No lightsaber. No cape.

He took her hands in his, one hand gloved and the other not, and crouched down in front of her. His expression was soft, but Padmé couldn't quite place what emotion he was feeling. Concern? Regret? Sadness? All of them?

"Padmé," he said softly as he brought her hands up to his mouth and kissed her knuckles. "Padmé. Please, tell me where our children are." She looked at him. She had been preparing herself for when Vader would bring up their children again. But she hadn't been expecting him to ask like this. With soft words and gentle gestures. She had been ready for anger and coldness. For threats and deaths.

"I-I can't," she said softly.

Padmé couldn't meet his eyes. Couldn't even look at his face, so she glanced down. She couldn't give up her children. The image of shadow children still haunted her.

Finally he spoke. "Tell me," his voice still soft with concern. "Tell me honestly. Do you not want to be with your children?" Her breath staggered a bit at that question. His flesh hand let go of her hands and came up to her chin. He gently raised it so she was looking at him. "I can sense it in you. Your heartbreak. Your pain over missing your children. Padmé, it doesn't have to be like this. We can all be together. As a family. As it's supposed to be."

"But it won't be." She couldn't hide the sadness in her voice. "It will never be as it's supposed to be!"

She took her hands from her lap and buried her face into them as tears started to well in her eyes. Vader was right that there was a deep pain in her from being seperated from her children. But there was also a deep heartache from what should have been. What Padmé lost when Anakin decided to be Vader.

An image came to her mind. She sat with her children. They were five years old. They sat on the floor in front a window with warm light pouring in. A few holonovels were scattered around the floor around them. One novel was projecting a star map of the galaxy. He was there as well. Not Vader, but Anakin. His eyes were blue. He was smiling warmly at her and their children.

Then the image was gone and Padmé was brought back to reality. The reality of a cold living room on board an Imperial star destroyer. Her children seperated from her and each other. Her husband gone, and his place sat the slithering monster in front of her.

Vader stood up and brought his hands to her shoulders. He wrapped his arms around her, bringing her head to rest on his chest. His gloved hand ran through her loose curls on her back in a comforting manner.

"I'm giving you a chance," Vader said in his soft voice. "Tell me where my children are. The next time I ask I will not be kind about it. You know this. Why torture yourself?"

She couldn't help but contemplate it. She did know. She knew he would stop at nothing. He had no price. With that last thought she snapped away from his embrace. He let her go and he took a step back. She leaned back into the back of the couch. She looked at him and he back at her.

"What is your price?" she whispered at her.

His head tilted slightly and he raised an eyebrow. "My price?" he asked.

"What would you give for your children?"

"I would give almost anything," he replied. She wondered where did he draw the line? She didn't have to ponder on that too much as he continued. "I won't give you up though. But I honestly don't see you buying your supposed freedom with your children."

She wasn't thinking about herself at all. "Would you give up your weapons?" He didn't respond. "Your Ultimate Weapon? Your new star destroyer? Would you give them up? Destroy them? Never let them be built?"

He only paused a second. "Yes," he said. He didn't ask how she knew about these projects.

"Would you give up being the emperor? Would you step down from it? Run away from it all? To be with me and our children?" she pleaded. She wanted to know. Did he want the power more or his family? If he was forced to choose, what would he do? She only paused a short moment before she continued. "Would you promise me that you would never train them in the ways of the Force? Promise me they'd never become Sith like you?" The glowing eyes of the shadow children crossed her mind.

He was quiet. While he had given her a quick reply when she asked if he'd destroy his weapon plans for his children, he was not quick about stepping away from his power. Padmé frowned. He actually had to think about it.

"I can't," he finally said.

"You can't what?" Padmé asked for clarification.

He smiled. "Why would I step away from this? I finally have a chance to bring peace and stability to the galaxy. To make things the way I want them. My family will be beside me, ruling the galaxy. My children will inherit my throne. They will need to be strong in the Force as well."

She let out a small sob hearing those words. He again moved closer to her and brought his flesh hand up to her cheek, cupping her face.

"You see Padmé," Vader said. "You are in no position to demand such things of me. I won't choose one or the other, simply because I can have both. The only thing standing between having everything I want, of us being a complete family again, is you. If you won't tell me willingly where my children are, then I will force it from you."

He pulled away from her and walked over to the viewport. He pulled a comlink from his pocket and brought it up to his mouth.

A male voice answered. "Your majesty?"

"Turn the ship into position," Vader replied. His voice had lost the softness he had used with Padmé throughout their conversation. It was now sharp, demanding and authoritative. It was the voice of the Emperor.

"At once, your majesty."

The stars beyond the viewport started to slowly move. A sinking feeling filled Padmé. She saw another star destroyer floating off in nearby space. She wasn't that surprised. Generally this ship was amongst a fleet. Then she saw another destroyer further away than the first.

Padmé was on her feet when only but a sliver of a planet was in view. She walked over to the viewport, placing her palms on the cold transparisteel. Vader moved to stand directly beside her. His hands clasped behind his back. Slowly the ship turned and more of the planet was revealed. Horror crawled up her spin and clawed at her insides.

"No," she whispered.

She instantly knew this planet. There was no mistaking the familiar blue and green world. She knew each of the curves of the continents below. It was her home, Naboo. Surrounding the planet was a fleet of six other star destroyers. At least that was as many as Padmé could see. More could be out of view on the far side of the planet.

She felt Vader's hand fall softly on her back. "I told you I would not be kind about it," he said in a soft voice. She looked over at him. Her eyes wide with fear and horror. Her mouth partly open. He continued, "You can stop this, you know. Just tell me where they are."

"You- you wouldn't!" she said finally finding her voice. "You can't!"

He only looked at her. Again he pulled his comlink out. Again the voice called out from the com. "Yes, your majesty?"

"Have the Avenger begin its bombardment."

"Understood, your majesty."

Padmé went numb as she turned back to the viewport. She saw as one destroyer approached the planet. It settled into a low orbit and then bright red erupted from the cannons of the ship. Her thoughts spun through her head as she tried to place where exactly was being bombed. There was a small city in the area surrounded by local towns and farms.

"Stop," Padmé cried. She turned towards Darth Vader. His eyes were on hers. She doubted he had even turned to watch the bombardment at all. "You must stop this!" she begged.

"I will when you tell me where our children are," he said calmly. No emotion playing out on his face. No anger or regret.

Padmé again turned towards the planet of Naboo floating largely in space in the viewport. Her planet. Her home. She watched as the star destroyer unleashed its firepower onto the planet. Gray clouds of smoke of destruction swirled where the cannons hit.

Vader brought up his com again. Padmé wanted to say something. She wanted to reach out and snatch away his com before he ordered anything. But she felt frozen, unable to move. Barely able to breath. Her chest felt tight. She couldn't get in enough air.

Again the person on the other end answered Vader's call. Vader replied, "Tell the Conquest to move over Theed and then stand by for orders."

"No," she said. Her lips had barely moved as her body still felt frozen. She willed herself to move as the horror and fear poured through her pounding heart. "No. No!" She stumbled over to him. Her hands feel grabbed at his shirt. Tears stung her eyes. "No!"

Vader didn't respond. After the call, he clasped his hands behind his back. They were still there as Padmé clung on to him. His face was still emotionless, though Padmé felt like it edged towards disgust or annoyance.

"You can't!" Her cries continued. "You can't bomb Theed. Anaki- Vader! My family! My family is in Theed! My parents! My sister and her children! Please! Please you can't do this!"

Still he remained as he had been. His empty face merely staring down at her. Finally he moved. His left hand came up to the side of Padmé's face in loving-like manner. He gently stroked her curls of her brown hair.

"My angel," he said in a soft voice. "It's not me who can stop this, but you. Just tell me where my children are. I will order the ships to stop. I will order the fleet away. You need only say a location."

A tense moment of silence stretched between them. His yellow eyes never leaving hers. Her eyes darted from one yellow to another. As if hoping that she would see a crack. As if he would finally hear her mental pleas she was shouting in her head.

"I-I can-can't," she muttered. "I can't give them to you!"

He closed his eyes and let out a sigh as if disappointed. For the first time since the whole thing had begun, he turned and looked out the viewport. The Avenger had stopped its bombardment. The Conquest now stood in low orbit above Theed.

"I guess it's safe to assume my children aren't on Naboo," he said a bit to himself. But then he looked over at her. "I imagine you wouldn't allow any harm to come to our children. You would have broken at my first order to the Avenger." A sudden flare of anger lit inside of her.

"It's all games to you! Thousands of people just died and you don't care! You won't get away with this!" she hissed at him. "You think people will just believe whatever lies you tell them, but they see through it. They'll see you for what you really are. A monster that destroys innocent peaceful planets."

"Oh Padmé," he said in a condescending way. "I forget you are a bit out of the loop with the current news. You see there has been a number of terrorists attack throughout several systems. It's simply called the Gray Fever, but it's a horrible little virus. It preys on the weak. The children, the old, and the sick are often the first to go. It strikes quick and is pretty contagious.

"The best scientists in my Empire have yet to find a good vaccine to prevent it. The virus just keeps evolving. As soon as we find one cure, the virus mutates, kills again, and we're forced to start all over.

"But luckily for the citizens of my empire," he paused here for a moment taking in her horrified expression, "their Emperor has had the terrorist group responsible for these attacks tracked down. He has come to personally seen them wiped out, destroyed, and hopefully ending their reign of terror." He waved his right hand towards the viewport. "It just so happens they chose their base on Naboo. Who would have suspected such an evil group to hiding on such a peaceful planet?

"You see, my love, the people won't respond in hate and horror of what has happened here on Naboo. When the news breaks, it will be rejoiced and welcomed."

"You . . . you orchestrated this all!" she said aghast. "You created a virus and attacked your own citizens with it? Just so you could get at me?"

"I did have five years to plan," he said with his horrible smile growing across his face. She shivered. She hadn't seen it since the cell and the deaths of her crew.

"What if something went wrong? What if the virus broke out and ravaged Naboo?"

He shrugged. "I have had the planet and your family under strong surveillance. Not only have I personally scoured the planet looking for you and our missing children, but I have had plenty of teams search the planet on occasion as well. I am already pretty confident my children are not there. And if they are not there, then I did not care if the virus got out early.

"I made it so the terrorist group was untraceable back to me. I have found that sometimes creating fear brings people into line so much nicer. People just want to be safe. You'd be surprised at the price they're willing to sell themselves for for such safety. As I've said before, I've easily found that everyone has a price. Including you, Padmé."

Padmé let his words sink in. His was admitting that he had created terrorist groups or orchestrated terrorist attacks or somehow caused other untold destruction that was blamed not on the Empire. Instead he was the savior that came in the aftermath to bring aid, sell sweet lies promising safety if only the people accepted his rule. It only confirmed and solidified everything she had fought for as a Rebel. Every secret broadcast she transmitted into the cold space onto secret holonet channels had been worth it. Each time she risked her ship and crew to land on a planet to bring aid, had been worth it.

His hand went into his pocket and brought out his comlink. He moved to bring it up to his mouth, but she grabbed onto his arm with both hands. Despite everything he had just admitted to her, despite her renewed sense of rightness in her Rebellion, there was still the horror and fear about her home and family.

"I should give the next order," Vader continued as again he glanced back at the waiting Conquest. "After Naboo is left to rot as a smoking husk of rubble, where shall my fleet go to next? We can go planet to planet. Just eliminate each possible place you could have hidden my children away from me on. Eventually you won't let me bomb the planet. Perhaps we should visit the planets of your old friends? Chandrila? Alderaan?"

Her body ran cold at the mention of the last planet. "No!" she said. But he brought up his comlink and pressed the button. Again the officer on the other end answered. "I'll tell! I'll tell! Please don't! Please spare them!"

She wasn't even sure who was 'them' she was referring to. Her family? The people of Naboo? Or her allies who were currently protecting and hiding her children?

Vader spoke into his com. Dread filled her fearing he would give the order to bomb Theed regardless of her surrender. Instead he ordered the person on the other side of the com to simply continue to standby. He put the com back into his pocket.

"Well?" he asked in a very pleased voice. "Where are they?"

She couldn't look at him. Her eyes stared at the floor. "Tatooine." Her voice was barely a whisper.

"Tatooine?" he hissed. He grabbed her arms. "You sent them to Tatooine? My children are living on that Force forsaken planet?" She flinched at his anger. She could feel it almost radiating off of him at the mention of the planet. She knew of his hatred of the planet. It was why it had been chosen. There was no way he would ever set foot on that planet again.

"Which one?" he growled. His grip tightened on her shoulders. She looked up at him a bit confused. "Which child is on Tatooine? Are they both there?"

Again a numbing cold washed through her. She had hoped she could get away with only tell him one location. Hoping he would be pleased. That somehow when he got to the first location, her allies would alert the others hiding the other child. Vader may have gotten his hands on one of his children, but at least the other would be safe and free.

"Answer me," he hissed through clenched teeth. "ANSWER ME!" She let out a shout in pain.

"No!" she screamed.

It was silent except for the small sobs escaping her as tears started to fall and his harsh breathing.

"No?" he finally asked, he voice much calmer but there was still an edge of anger.

"No," she confirmed through her sobs.

"Where else?"

For a reason she didn't know, she stepped up to him. She leaned against him. She placed her head against his chest. He wrapped his arms around her. His hand stroked her hair while the other rubbed her back. She should be revolted to be near him, much less being held by him. But she was breaking. Her heart was breaking into a million pieces. She was barely keeping herself together. She felt the need that something needed to hold in place, even if it was him.

"Where else?" he asked again, but this time his voice was soft and sympathetic.

"Alderaan," she replied between her sobs into his chest.

Chapter Text

Chapter Fourteen: The Son

Luke sat on the floor of the small kitchen. Aunt Beru stood at the counter chopping vegetables. Luke had a pile of audlo root next to him that he was to peel the skin off of. He grabbed one of the long orange-brown hairy roots and started to shave the top layer of wiry fuzz off. He let out a deep sigh, loud enough that hopefully Aunt Beru would hear. But she kept to her own business up on the counter, ignoring the five year old at her feet.

Luke was grounded. Peeling audlo root in the kitchen was his punishment. He wasn't allowed to go out and play. He wasn't even allowed to go out with Uncle Owen while he did his daily rounds on the farm. Luke would much rather prefer being out with Uncle Owen checking on the vaporators. Uncle Owen could be strict and a bit mean at times, but at least he'd be outside. He would be around some of the farm's droids. He'd probably get to run around a bit. But no. He was stuck inside with a growing pile of hairy vegetable skins.

Luke gave another loud sigh, but still his aunt ignored him. Annoyed Luke picked up another root and started to peel it. He didn't think he deserved this punishment. This was the worst. He had been taking apart some old junk in the garage. He found an old adapter and tried to hot wire it up to an old droid. However the wiring overloaded, not used to the increased power of the old droid. It had created an electrical fire.

It was only a small fire. Luke was able to put it out pretty quick. The only way Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru found out was because Luke had burnt the sleeve of his tunic. Yet of course Uncle Owen got really angry at Luke. The uncle yelled at the boy and scolded him for being so reckless. Yet what hurt worse was Aunt Beru's sorrowful look and soft but scolding words.

Several more loud sighs later, Luke finally finished peeling all of the audlo root. He handed the peeled root over to his aunt, who placed them into an open container on the counter. Luke picked up all the horrible hairy skins and threw them into the compost.

"Why don't you go play out in the courtyard?" Aunt Beru offered.

"I'm not suppose to play. Uncle Owen said I'm grounded," Luke reminded his aunt. She gave him a soft smile.

"Your uncle won't be back for another hour or two. You've been cooped in this kitchen all day. You aren't allowed to go to your room or to the garage, but you can play around the courtyard."

Luke nodded and made his way through the dining room and out in the open courtyard of the homestead. Like many farms, the house was built into the ground to help keep it cool. Tall walls stretched up to the desert floor above Luke's head. Stairways and short tunnels branched off from the courtyard leading into other rooms of the farm. Luke stared a bit longingly at the steps that would take him up to the garage.

He sighed as he tried to turn his attention elsewhere. He walked over to the large vaporator unit in the center of the courtyard, before he made a slow circle around it. There wasn't much fun to be had out in the courtyard. He didn't have any of his toys. There was no machinery out here for him to take part or examine, except the vaporator and Luke dared not touch that.

He found a loose desert pebble and started absentmindedly kicking it around the courtyard. Slowly he started to form a game. He was a fighter pilot in a spaceship, and the rocks were his missiles. He was flying through space, taking down enemy craft. He needed to line up his shot. He would kick the pebble. Often the pebble rolled horribly off course. It wasn't the best make-believe missile.

Luke herded up some more missile-rocks and lined up his shots again. He took aim at a spot on the wall. He needed to be quick, his starcraft was being surrounded by the enemy. He aimed, he pressed the button, and off went the missles! One pebble hit the spot on the wall.

"A direct hit!" he shouted as he ran a circle around the courtyard. Imagarinary explosions playing off in his head. He gathered up the pebbles again. He was lining them up when he noticed the pebbles starting to shake. Then he felt the vibrations. Then he heard the loud screaming noise of an engine.

Luke glanced up as he saw two small ships zoom overheard. The whole homestead shook. Luke's mouth was open. He couldn't believe. What were ships doing way out here? If he ran up top, would he be able to make them out? Or would they be too far gone?

"Luke!"

Luke was brought back to his current situation of being grounded. That's right he wasn't allowed to go out. His aunt was coming towards him from the dining room. Her eyes kept darting between the sky and the boy.

"Aunt Beru did you see that? There were ships flying above us!" Luke said as his aunt approached and put a hand on his shoulder. "What do you think they're doing all the way out here? You think they're lost?"

But his aunt didn't say anything. Luke wiggled a bit, but her grip on the boy was strong. Luke craned his head back to examine his aunt and noticed she did not look happy. In fact she looked scared. Luke's head lowered as he made out the small line of pebbles lined up. He noticed them starting to shake and rattle. Again two ships zoomed over the courtyard, their shadows briefly crossed Luke and Aunt Beru.

The ships seemed to be going slower this time, and Luke was sure they looked like Imperial TIE fighters. Those ship were pretty distinctive. Luke had only seen them a few times on the holonet. His aunt and uncle never let him watch the hololnet for very long.

The screaming the engines got softer, but didn't fade completely away like last time. Instead the sound got louder again as it appeared the ships were circling back around. Luke couldn't help but burn with curiosity. What were the ships doing? Suddenly Aunt Beru's grip tightened on Luke as she started to steer him towards the stairs that led up to Luke's room. Shortly they were inside his room.

"Aunt Beru?" he asked. He wasn't supposed to be his room.

"Luke I want you to stay in here," she said. His aunt kept looking over her shoulder into the courtyard.

"But-" Luke started.

"Luke." Her attention was completely on him. She leaned over. "Listen very carefully. I need you take this very seriously. I need you stay in your room. Do not come out, no matter what you hear. Just wait for me or Uncle Owen. Do you understand?"

Something was different. Something was wrong. Luke could feel it. He nodded in agreement. His aunt gave him a smile, but it didn't reach her eyes. She turned and left the room. She closed the door behind her and Luke was alone. He stood there for a moment, perhaps wondering if Aunt Beru would be right back. Yet when she didn't return immediately, Luke looked around his room for something to do.

He quickly found his favorite toy. It was a small T-16 skyhopper model. The wings were movable to allow for flight and landing position. Luke grabbed it and held the toy out as he dashed around the room. Luke really wanted a skyhopper model kit, where you build your own model. The model would much bigger and have so much details than his toy model. But such models were expensive. Aunt Beru had said that maybe if Luke was good enough and they had a good harvest of water this season, then just maybe they might be able to get Luke one.

Luke hoped so, but then he stopped playing with his toy as a wave of guilt rushed over him. Setting electrical fires in the garage was not helping him get a skyhopper model kit. He would have to be on much better behavior from now on. With a new sense of determination, he went about playing with his model toy.

He paused after a while wondering where his aunt was. She had yet to return. He wandered over to the door and heavily contemplated going outside to look for her. He was a little bored and hungry. Eventually he decided he would be a good boy and wait for his aunt or uncle to come get him. He did after all just promise himself he would behave himself better.

Luke took up a new game. This time he took another toy spaceship and had it pretend fight against his skyhopper. He would bang the two together as they fought. During one such encounter, a wing of the skyhopper fell off.

"Oh no!" Luke cried as he brought up the toy to examine it.

It looked like the small metal pin that attached the wing to the body had fallen out. Luke glanced around the floor of his room trying to locate. He needed to find it. His skyhopper was his favorite toy, plus if Uncle Owen saw that his toy was broken then Luke would never get the model kit. Luke got down on his knees as he started to really look for the missing pin.

That was when the door to his bedroom opened. Luke sat upright as a wave of fear hit him. How would explain this if it was his uncle? But what if it was his aunt? She would help him find the pin. But it oddly enough it was neither one of them. It was man. He stood shadowed by the bright daylight. He walked into the room and door shut behind him.

Luke was able to get a good look at the man now. He was tall. His dark blonde hair was swept back. There was a scar that slashed across his right eye. Though what most caught Luke's attention was his clothing. It looked like some sort of uniform, but with a cape. Did uniforms have capes? The man also wore leather gloves. But was really odd about it all, was that it was all black.

"Don't you get hot in that?" Luke asked the man. No one on Tatooine wore all black. It was too hot. Luke himself was wearing his white farmer's tunic. Even Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen wore light colored clothing to help keep them cool. He had never seen anyone wear all black before.

The man looked down at his clothes as if he was noticing for the first time what he was wearing. What an odd man, Luke thought to himself. But the man only looked back up at Luke and smiled.

"It does get a bit hot," he replied gently. The man walked over to Luke and took a seat on the floor in front of the boy. "Hello Luke," he said softly. Luke looked at this strange man. He was smiling warmly at Luke. Something was wiggling at the back of Luke's mind. Had he seen this man somewhere before?

"What are you doing on the floor?" the man asked. He looked at the broken skyhopper. "Playing?"

"No," Luke said. The man raised an eyebrow questioningly. "I mean yes," Luke quickly replied. "But it broke." He held out the skyhopper for the man to see. "The pin fell out. I was looking for it. Uncle Owen will get mad if he sees I broke it."

"Uncle Owen?" the man asked.

But Luke wasn't looking at the man. He again casted his eyes to floor in hopes of finding the elusive pin.

"Yeah . . .," Luke mumbled. "I want a T-16 Skyhopper model kit. The one you build yourself. It's much bigger and better than this toy model. I won't be able to get it if I can't take care of this one though."

Luke braved a look at the man, who was staring intently at Luke with blue eyes. He smiled when he noticed Luke's eyes on him. Then he held out a hand, palm up. Luke looked at it curiously. Then suddenly a small pin floated from a feet away. Luke's mouth hung open. The pin was flying. Flying through the air. It landed softly in the man's hand, who then held it out to Luke.

"Here," the man said.

Luke reached out hesitantly, but took the pin from the man. He quickly set to fixing his toy. Once the pin was back in, he tested the wing. It slid up and down steadily. Luke smiled as relief washed over him.

"Thank you!" he said to the man, who had a big smile across his face.

"Do you like ships?" he asked.

"Yes!" Luke said. "I want to be a pilot when I grow up. Just like my dad."

The room seemed to get suddenly cold and a bit darker. It couldn't be sunset already. "Your father?" the man asked. His voice sound strained as if it was difficult to talk.

"My dad was a pilot," Luke said again. He looked at the man. This time he really looked at him. Something was off about him, but Luke just couldn't quite place it. "That's what Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen tell me."

"What else did they tell you about your father?" the man pressed.

Luke frowned and shook his head slightly. "Nevermind . . ." Luke said. "I don't want to talk about it."

"Why not?"

"Because everyone makes fun of me."

"Why? Who?"

"People at school. The other kids. Because I don't have a dad. He died. Attacked by pirates when he was running spice on his freighter."

"Dead?"

Luke saw the man's eyes go yellow. Something was wrong. Something was really wrong. He scooted away from the man as he found his legs were too weak to let him stand. He ended up bumping into his bed and could go no further away from the man. Where were his Aunt and Uncle? Who was this scary man?

"Luke," the man said. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you." He sounded sorry. He moved forward and reached a hand out to the boy. Luke tried to wiggle away, but his bed blocked his path. The man's hand came to rest of Luke's shoulder. Suddenly, the man didn't so scary. His eyes weren't yellow, they were blue. A sense of calm washed through Luke. Why had been so scared a moment ago?

"Luke." Luke shivered at the sound of his name. There seemed to be vibration when the man spoke his name. A sense of power. The man's other hand came to rest on Luke's cheek. "Luke, your father isn't dead."

Luke blinked. Blinked again. "What?" he finally asked. He wasn't sure he had heard the man correctly. The man smiled at him.

"Your father isn't dead," he repeated. "Luke, I am you farther."

Luke could only stare open mouthed at this man who claimed to be his father. Was that true? All he had ever been told was that his father was dead. He had at times questioned this. But it only made Uncle Owen angry. "He's dead! Dead is dead!" Yet now there was this man saying he was his father. It couldn't be, could it? Yet the more Luke repeated the information in his head, the more right it felt. The man- no his father- was speaking the truth.

"F-father?" Luke finally managed to say after working through his thoughts. His father's hand that was on Luke's cheek left it and started to stroke the hair on Luke's head. Sometimes Aunt Beru would do the same thing. Uncle Owen never did it.

"Yes, Luke. I'm your father."

"But- but- but they said you died!"

His father sighed as his head turned away. "I'm sorry. They lied to you." Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru lied? They had known the whole time his dad was alive?

"But why?" Luke couldn't hide the desperation and the need for answers from his voice. His father looked back at him. He looked sad.

"Because," his father said softly, "they were trying to keep you away from me, son."

"But why?" Luke demanded.

"Because they were afraid of me," his father explained. But Luke was still confused.

"They were afraid of you?"

His father closed the distance between the two and brought Luke into a warm embrace. "It doesn't matter now," his father said softly as his hand rubbed up and down Luke's back. "We're together now. You'll come live with me. As it should have been all along."

A sense of warmth was growing inside Luke. Isn't this what he had always secretly wanted? That his father was still alive and would come for him? The two would go off and ride through the stars together.

"Come now, we must go. Your mother is waiting," his father said.

"M-mother?" Luke couldn't hide his shock. He thought he couldn't be any more shocked to learn his father was alive and right in front of him and wanting to take him away to live him. But also his mother?

His father looked annoyed. "What did they tell you about your mother? Surely they didn't tell she was dead too?"

"No . . ." Luke said looking down at the ground. He knew this man was his father. He shouldn't feel embarrassed, but he did. He remembered their jeers and taunts of the children in Anchorhead when he attended school. A soft leather gloved hand came up to Luke's chin and titled it upward. He was staring into the concerned blue eyes of his father.

"Tell me, Luke," his father asked softly. "What do you know of your mother?"

"That . . . that she left me here," he whispered. His father didn't lower Luke's chin. He stared and Luke knew he was wanting to hear more. "Aunt Beru told she was really pretty and really nice. She said she loved me more than anything and said she was going to come back and get me. But everyone else said . . ." He swallowed the lump that was growing in his throat. "Everyone else said she abandoned me. I wasn't wanted."

"Look at the little bastard," one child joked to the others in Luke's memory.

"Your mother was probably a whore. Pawning you off on some poor farmer. No better than a slave. Wonder how much she got for you?"

A sharp coldness sliced through the room. Luke instinctively curled up. He looked up his father. He wasn't looking at Luke. He was gazing off into the distance, but his eyes were a glowing yellow and scowl was across his face. Luke didn't like this. Luke was scared. He wanted Aunt Beru. His father's eyes were suddenly on him. Luke flinched.

Then as quickly as it had come, it was gone. The cold was gone. His father's eyes were blue. Luke felt the reassuring hand of his father's rubbing his back in comforting manner. He found himself uncurling and relaxing. He leaned against his father.

"Luke . . ." his father started. "Your mother did leave you, and she loves you so much. She left you here because she thought she was protecting you. But she has missed you every moment you have been away from her. She wants you. She has always wanted you."

So Aunt Beru had been right? Luke closed his eyes and took comfort in that. But he still wondered what his father meant. What was his mother protecting him from?

"That's why I'm here now," his father kissed Luke on the head. "To make us a family again. Like it should be." Luke nodded at the the thought. Yes, this felt right. He was going to be in a family. A real family! "Come on, it's time to go," he father said as he picked Luke up. Luke rested his head against his father shoulder. He was still clinging to his toy skyhopper.

His father gently carried him out of the farmstead. Waiting in the sand outside was a large shuttle. Luke sat upright with his mouth open.

"Is that your ship?" he asked excitedly. "It looks just like a skyhopper!" He looked down at his small toy for comparison. His father laughed.

"No. This is just a shuttle that will take us to my ship," his father explained. Luke's eyes widened. How big was his father's ship? He couldn't wait to see it. His father pushed Luke back onto his father's chest. Luke again settled against the man as he walked up the loading ramp.

Chapter Text

Chapter Fifteen: The Daughter

Leia yawned as CZ-7OB continued its math lesson. She found her eyes kept looking away from the holoprojector which displayed colorful numbers. Instead she kept looking out the window. Her mind kept thinking of the flowers and the trees of the gardens. She thought of grass between her toes. She thought about letting down her hair from its tightly coiled buns and letting the wind blow through it.

"Princess," came the masculine voice of the droid. "Please pay attention."

The five year old turned her attention back to the droid. "Sorry SeeZee-Seven," she mumbled.

"Princesses do not mumble. They speak with a clear voice," the droid corrected.

Leia took a deep breath in and straightened herself. "I am most sorry SeeZee-Seven," she said in her most-princess voice. "You have my full attention."

"Good," said the droid. "Now let's practice what you just learned with these new problems."

When the midday break finally came, Leia could hardly stay in her seat any longer. She let a handmaiden guide her into the dining room for lunch. Leia ate alone. Her parents and aunts were all busy doing whatever it was that they did. After she finished eating, Leia excused herself to the go to the refresher.

Her mornings were filled with academic lessons of reading and math. Her afternoons would be filled with history and etiquette training. At the moment, Leia had no interest in sitting through any more of CZ-7OB's boring lessons. So instead of going to refresher, she ducked down a different hallway. She made sure the guards and maids weren't watching, before she scurried through the palace and made her way outside.

She was careful to avoid all grownups, afraid that one would alert someone that would drag her back to her lessons. She was lucky she made it all the way to her favorite spot in the gardens. She set about taking off her shoes and running through the grass. It wasn't long before she heard the first shouts.

"Leia! Princess Leia!"

Leia pursed her lips together. She wasn't ready to go back in yet to learn how to bow and sit properly. She gathered her shoes and made her way over to the hedge bushes that divided up parts of the garden. She knew exactly where there was a small opening in the base of the bushes. She wiggled her way in and once through a small tunnel of branches, she found herself in an open dark clearing in the middle of the hedges.

She loved this spot. Her secret little spot. She couldn't be seen from the outside. If she put her head to the ground, she could look back out of the little tunnel she crawled in. She did so as she heard the calls for her name get louder. She saw the boots of a guard walk by and then later the hems of skirt of a handmaiden.

Leia smiled each time a person passed but didn't think stop and look for her in the bush. But eventually the calls faded away and Leia grew bored. She sat up and busied herself amongst the branches. She watched some little bugs crawl along a branch. A few carried small pieces of leaves. She broken off a small twig and started digging into the dirt.

It was only when a small breeze made its way through the thick foliage, that Leia realized she had stopped hearing the calls of her name. She listened and found the gardens quiet and peaceful. Maybe they had moved the search elsewhere? Leia sighed thinking it was no fun that no one was looking for her.

But she was getting a little cold and bored. She was just going to get in more trouble the more she was out here. She could already feel her father's disappointed eyes that he had right before he gave her a lecture on proper behavior expected of a princess. Leia swatted at some nearby branches, listening to them rattle, before she started to pull on her shoes.

As she finished she heard heavy boot falls walking on the path that ran along the hedges. She quieted and held her breath. The steps grew louder and louder and then they stopped. She lowered herself to the ground to peek out her tunnel. Standing right in front of the entrance was someone wearing black boots, black pants, and a black cape. Leia frowned. The guards didn't wear anything like that nor her father nor anyone Leia could think of.

Then a voice asked, "Are you having fun in there?"

Leia stilled instantly. Was that voice talking to her? How had they known where she was hiding?

"Will you come out?" the voice asked again. "Leia?"

When her name was said, there seemed to be a vibration in the air. A hum. A buzz around her that she couldn't quite place. She made her way through the branches, along the tunnel, and crawled out of the bushes. She dusted the dirt as best she could from her white dress before she glanced up at the stranger.

The man was wearing all black with a long cape. He was leaning over, and a curl of his hair had fallen over his face. She had seen this man before, but she couldn't place where she had him. Was he a friend of her father or mother? A politician? He looked military, but not like the Alderaan military. Maybe he was of the Imperial military?

"Hello," Leia said as she remembered her manners. "I'm Princess Leia."

The man only smiled and said, "Hello." Leia frowned. He was being a bit rude. He was suppose to give his name back, so then Leia could respond with how nice it was to meet him. "I'm sorry to call you out of your hiding place," he said.

Leia looked back at the hedges. Looks like she wouldn't be using that hiding spot anymore, now that it had been discovered. She would need to find another one.

She gave a slight bow to the man. "If you'll excuse me, I need to get back to my studies."

"Then I shall accompany you back to the palace," he said. She pursed her lips slightly, but then nodded. He was being polite and she should be polite back. The two walked side by side. Leia kept glancing back up at the man. He was smiling down at her.

As they approached the palace, they came to a large circular fountain. Instead of moving to walk around it and towards the large double doors of the palace, the man walked up to the side of the fountain. He stared at the sculpture in the center. It was abstract made up of smooth curving shapes. Leia followed him. In truth she was not eager to go back to her studies or for the upcoming lecture from her father. She sat on the edge of the fountain and looked over at the man. He was studying her with blue eyes.

"Can I ask you a question Leia?" he asked.

"Princess Leia," she corrected him. He was not a member of her family nor a friend.

"Ah I'm sorry. Princess Leia," he corrected himself. She nodded her head slightly with her approval. "What do you know of your parents?"

That was an odd question she thought. But she started to answer, "Well papa-" she stopped then corrected herself. She was suppose to refer to her father as 'father' since that was the proper way princesses spoke. "My father is a senator of the galactic senate. And my mother is the queen." She looked up at the stranger, who continued to look down at her.

"I wasn't talking about the Organas," he said, "I want to know what about your real parents."

She looked over at the rippling water of the fountain and bit her lower lip. She did know that her parents weren't her birth parents. On her fifth birthday her parents had sat her down and explained she had been adopted. She was a big girl now and was old enough to know the truth.

"Even though we didn't give birth to you, we love you very much. You are our daughter."

"I don't know really know about them," she finally replied. It was the truth.

"You don't know anything?" his words sounded painful. She looked back at him. The man was sad, and that made Leia feel bad.

"They said my birth mother gave me to my mother and father, because she wanted to go help people. Most importantly she wanted to help save my birth father," she replied.

"Save your father?"

Again Leia bit her lip. She didn't know if she should being telling this stranger these things. Her parents had said she was a big girl who handle the truth. It seemed like it was something special, a secret. She wasn't suppose to tell anyone about her birth parents.

The man placed a gloved hand on her shoulder. "Leia," he said. "You can tell me."

She let out a long breath and with it some tension she hadn't been aware she had been holding ever since she heard the man's voice when she was in the bush. As she took in her next breath she as finding herself much more at ease. The sun felt warm but there was a nice cool breeze coming off the fountain.

"My birth father became an Imperial." The words suddenly spilled out of her. "My birth mother didn't like that. So she became a rebel to stop the Empire and save my birth father." She paused. Why had she told the man all of this? "Please don't tell my mother and father I told you this! It's a secret!"

The hand that was on her shoulder was placed on top of her head. The man started to gently stroke her head, careful not to loosen her buns. If her father found out what she had told this man, then Leia would really get a long lecture. Plus this man looked Imperial. True he wasn't wearing an Imperial uniform, but his clothes kind of looked like it.

Leia knew that she was always suppose to act especially good in front of Imperials and say things about good the Empire was. She always knew that her parents didn't really like the Empire. The Empire was mean and scary and did bad things to people. Her mother had said that's why sometimes her father was gone for long periods of time. He was doing his best as a senator to help people. Her birth mother had given her to her parents so her birth mother could fight against the Empire. It would be too dangerous for her to have a baby with her.

"She did a very brave thing, Leia," Queen Breha said. "She wanted you to have the best life possible. She couldn't bring you into danger and let you get hurt. So she gave you to us. But never think it was because she didn't love you. Your mother loves you so much."

"And what will happen when your real mother comes back?" the man asked pulling Leia out of her thoughts. He pulled his hand from head. He paced away from Leia. He seemed annoyed. "Would you go with her? Your real mother? Would you leave these imposters behind?" He turned towards her. He was clearly annoyed with a frown on his face.

"I . . . I . . ."

Honestly she had never even thought about it. Having to choose between her parents and her birth mother. Granted she hadn't known she had another set of parents until recently. But somehow she just imagined her birth mother would come live with Leia here at the palace. They could all be a happy family together.

She wondered what her birth mother was doing right now. Was she out there fighting the Emperor? The Emperor . . . the Emperor . . . Leia looked up at the man and really looked at him this time. She thought she had recognized him.

"You're the Emperor!" she said pointing a finger at him.

"Yes, I am," he said softly as he walked back to where she sat on the edge of the fountain.

"Oh," was all Leia could say in response. She was speaking to the Emperor. She had told him about her birth mother, and that her birth mother was a rebel! Her eyes went wide and she grabbed onto his shirt. "Please don't hurt my birth mother! I know she's a rebel! But-but please don't hurt her!" she pleaded.

"Oh Leia," the man said as he sat down next to her. "I would never hurt your mother."

"Really?" she asked. Her brown eyes seeking his blue eyes to see if he was telling her the truth. She had heard a lot of stories of people being kidnapped and disappearing because they made the Emperor mad. Sometimes the kitchen ladies would wave a spoon at Leia if she was being naughty. "If you continue to steal sweets you'll get locked up by the Emperor!"

"Of course. I love your mother."

"You love her?" Leia's eyes went wide. The man took both of Leia's small hands into his two big gloved hands.

"Yes," he said warmly and with a smile. The way he said it appeared as if the Emperor really was in love. "She's my wife." Leia just continued to stare at the man. A small frown started to form on the Emperor's face when Leia didn't say anything. "Leia that makes me your father. Your real father."

Wait. No. This wasn't right. Her father wasn't the Emperor.

"I understand this is probably all very confusing," he said as his hands left hers and he brought her into an embrace. "But I'm trying to make things right. Trying to make it the way things should be."

The Emperor was right, Leia was confused. How could he be her father? And yet she could somehow sense that he wasn't lying. She wanted to say he was lying, yet he wasn't. He spoke the truth. She somehow knew it was true. He was her father.

Then she felt a gloved hand on her cheek and her head was gently lifted so she was staring at the blue eyes of her birth father. His brows were creased with concern. His gloved thumb gently rubbed back and forth on her cheek.

"Come, let's bring you home," he said. He stood up and then scooped Leia into his arms. She wanted to protest, but found herself suddenly too tired. Instead she wrapped her arms around him and buried her face into his neck.

He walked her into the palace. She noticed he wasn't taking the route to her classroom nor to her rooms. He wasn't even going towards the residential part of the palace at all. That was when she noticed the halls were very empty. She saw no guards. No maids. No servants. No one. But then she saw the first stormtrooper. She squeezed the Emperor tighter and he responded by putting a hand on her head.

"There's nothing to be afraid of," he said in a soft whisper.

Then she saw more and more troopers along with other Imperials in gray uniforms. She didn't see anyone who worked in the palace. She was scared. Something was wrong. Really wrong. Where was everyone? But then the fear seeped away, and she felt more and more tired. Her body felt heavy and once again her head came to rest on the shoulder of the man.

She was fighting to keep her eyes open when she noticed they were in the hangar. The man was carrying her to shuttle, but stopped by a man who stood near the loading ramp.

"Your majesty," the man greeted the Emperor with a short bow.

"The prisoners?" the Emperor said. Leia couldn't help but shiver. His voice sounded completely different than when he had talked to her to comfort her just moments ago. This voice was cold and dark.

"Already on the Devastator, your majesty," the man replied.

"Good," was all the Emperor replied before he turned from the man and walked up the loading ramp. The last Leia saw of her palace home was the white floor of the hangar through the closing loading ramp.

Chapter Text

Chapter Sixteen: The Parenthood

Padmé set on the edge of the bed. Looking out towards the viewport of her bedroom on the destroyer. Her hands were loosely clasped in her lap. The door to the bedroom was open. Sounds of laughter were heard from the living area. The sounds of children's laughter.

There was only a wall separating her from her children. The two were in the next room over playing. Laughing. They had been here for two days now. Vader had retrieved Luke first since Tatooine was closer to Naboo. She first saw her boy while he slept. She sat on the floor next his bed throughout the night. Her hand very lightly stroking the blonde hair. He had grown up to look so much like his father.

Padmé had then been left alone with her son as Vader left to go to Alderaan to get Leia. Luke, though a bit shy, was very happy at meeting his mother. His big blue eyes were always on her sparkling with curiosity and love. She felt very awkward as she played with the boy. She wasn't sure if she was doing anything right, but Luke only smiled at her the whole day.

Padmé had fallen asleep on the sofa in the living room that night. She woke to Vader gently waking her telling her that Leia was here as well. She went into the twins' rooms. It was right next to the living room, accessed through the hallway leading off the living area. Generally the hallway had been blocked off with a locked door, but now the door was open.

The room was big with the signature gray walls. A small bed was tucked into both of the back corners. A large plush green rug stretched between the two beds. The soft bed sheets matched the rug in accompanying blues and greens. A small circular child-sized table sat in the middle of the room with small chairs. On Luke's side of the room sat a large two-person sized cushioned chair. It would be perfect for a parent and child to snuggle up in together. On Leia's side was a trunk filled with toys. One the walls were colorful paintings of scenery that reminded Padmé of Naboo.

Padmé couldn't believe Vader had put this room together. Especially comparing it to the harsh empty rooms next door. There was a certain tenderness and consideration. A certain love. As Pamde made her way over to the small sleeping form of her daughter, she glanced back over at Vader. He stood a few paces behind her watching with a smile on his face. Padmé's eyes quickly found his, but they were not yellow. They were blue.

Over the next two days she never saw Vader's eyes yellow when he was around the children. In fact Vader didn't feel like Vader. He felt like Anakin, especially with those blue eyes. He was unbelievably kind and caring towards the children. He acted like a father. He set boundaries and rules for the two, but was never harsh. He played games with them and made the two laugh.

"Padmé?"

Vader's voice brought her out of her thoughts. Yet she didn't look over at him as she heard him approach.

"Padmé?" he called again as he walked over to her. She slouched over, letting her long curls fall off her shoulders and on to her lap. "What are you doing in here?" She still didn't answer. "Our children are in the next room." Silence. "Padmé, come now. What is going on?"

He put a hand on her shoulder and gently pushed her back so she sat upright. She finally looked up at him. His eyes were blue but streaked with yellow.

"What's troubling you?" he asked. "It looks like you barely want to be around your children."

At first she thought his voice was filled with concern, but by the end it felt like annoyance.

"I don't think I can," she said softly looking away from him.

"Don't think you can what?"

"Be their mother."

"And why do you think that? You are their mother."

"That's not the same as being their mother. Someone who helps them grow up healthy and happy." She paused and looked down at her lap. "I'm a horrible mother."

Vader let out a sigh. "You're not a horrible mother."

"Really your past words have spoken differently," she said glaring back up at him.

"I have never said that." He was getting annoyed.

"Isn't it due to my mistakes I've kept our children apart from each other and their parents?" Padmé clearly recalled his harsh words from the viewing room in the detention block as he held her against the glass to watch the nine members of her crew be shot. "Isn't that what you meant then? What you actually thought? How dare I be such a horrible mother?"

Vader's eyes were completely yellow now. He turned away from her and paced towards the viewport. He stood there for a moment before he turned and approached her. "I was wrong," he said.

She just stared at him until she finally remembered how to move her mouth and tongue to create words. "You were wrong?"

"I'm not infallible, Padmé!" His hands were clenched at his sides. "Yes I said those things. But I was angry. Hurt. Betrayed. I wanted you to feel the same pain I felt."

"I already felt all of that!" she said jumping off the bed to stand on her feet.

Vader crossed his arms across his chest. "I did not mean for you to second guess yourself about motherhood. You are not a horrible mother."

"Oh really? What kind of mother am I then? I purposely let my one-year babies be separated clear across the galaxy so their mother could go off on some doomed crusade." He didn't respond. "I wasted four years of my life! Of their lives! For what? What good did I actually accomplish? Democracy is no closer to be restored as the empire is no closer to falling. More people died because of me than were helped! You were right."

She slumped and slid to the floor. Her back was against the side of the bed. "You were right," she repeated as buried her head into her hands and drew her knees to her chest. "None of this would have happened if it weren't for me being a damn fool."

She kept her head into her hands and closed her eyes. She didn't want to look at him. She could imagine the smug smile that was playing across his lips as he finally got the admission that he been wanting and hunting for all along. She didn't need to see him savor his victory. She felt him sit next to her. His legs came to rest on either side of her as he pulled her towards his chest. She didn't fight it, but kept her head in her hands.

"Padmé," his voice was very soft. Concerned. Soothing. "Padmé." One hand was combing through her curls. "You're not a horrible mother. Sure you've made mistakes, but you can't let those mistakes consume you. I can't do this alone. need you. They need you. They need their mother."

"How can you do it?" she mumbled into her hands. "How are you so good at being a father?"

She felt a small laugh escape him. "You really think I'm being a good father?" She thought back to the twin's bedroom. Recalled all the interactions she had witnessed between him and the twins. "In truth I am simply doing the best I can do. It's the only thing you can do as well."

She brought her hands down, but still didn't want to look at him. "I just don't know how you handle it when they look at you like a stranger, because you are a stranger. And it breaks your heart, because you love them so unconditionally and so much. Yet, they don't even know you. They're scared of you. Hesitant. And then your daughter asks when is she going back to real parents. And . . ." She finally looked up at him. His face was etched in deep concern. His eyes were blue.

"And this isn't what I wanted," she continued. "Maybe I was naive in thinking everything would be fine when I had the children back. We would be a family like nothing had ever happened. As if we weren't strangers to each other. But it was never my intention that Bail adopt Leia as his own daughter! I asked him to watch over her for me. What was he thinking? What was he going to do when I asked for my daughter back?

"And what happened to Obi-Wan?" she continued ignoring the sharp intake of air from Vader. "He was the one suppose to watch over Luke on Tatooine. Not just shrug him off on the Lars! Why wasn't he there?"

She leaned into him and buried her face into his chest. "Oh Anakin," she said unaware of the name she used. "This isn't what I wanted at all."

The two were silent. The only sound was their breathing. He hugged her tighter and for the first time in weeks she allowed herself to relax. To truly relax and be comforted. She found the ache inside of her lessening.

His voice finally broke the silence. "My angel. I'm trying to make it right. We're all together now. Yes the children see us as strangers, and they'll keep doing so if you keep avoiding them. All we can do is show them love, and it'll get better."

She only meekly nodded. The two stayed like that for a while longer, before Vader unwrapped himself and helped her up. Her lead her back in the living room where Luke and Leia sat on the floor in front of the viewport. A selection of toys were scattered around. The two were engaged in some make believe game using some small toy animals.

As the two parents approached, both twins stopped and stared at them. Leia's uncertain gaze brought a small flicker of pain to Padmé's heart. The girl wore a light blue dress, the closest color to white she had to choose from in the clothes Vader had prepared. Vader wouldn't allow her to wear the white dress she had come in. He told the girl it was dirty, but Padmé suspected he had it thrown away. He didn't want his daughter clinging on to her old life. Luke's face on the other hand lit up with joy. Unlike his sister, he had accepted his newfound parents a lot easier.

There was a moment of slight tension in the room as the children and parents both waited for the other party to be the first to say something. It was Vader who broke the tension with a wide smile. "I see you've moved on to another game. Perhaps I can play too? Mother can join us as well. As you can see, she's done resting."

Both sets of eyes went to Padmé. She gave them a weak smile and followed Vader's lead to sit on the floor next to the children. Luke handed both Vader and Padmé a small toy animal.

"You can be the momma and you can be the papa," Luke said doling out the roles. "We can be the babies!"

"And what is it that the momma and the papa should be doing?" Vader asked. His voice warm. Luke paused and looked over at Leia. He was trying to include his sister's voice in the game. Leia only looked down at her lap. Padmé fought back a frown that wanted to form at the obvious discomfort coming from the girl.

"They should make a nest for the babies to sleep in," Luke said when Leia didn't provide a prompt.

Padmé found it easier to be around the twins as the day went on. Her heart flooded with warmth when she was able to make them both laugh. That night before the two went to bed, Padmé sat on Leia's bed. The twins sat on either side of her while Padmé held and read a storybook. Luke was absolutely amazed by physical books, having only seen holonovels before. He loved to be the one to turn the pages.

Once the children were put to bed, Padmé silently closed the door of their room. Vader had excused himself after dinner claiming he had work to do. He was still gone. Padmé glanced down the hallway. She knew Vader's office was down there. She wondered where the other doors lead to. However, she found herself not in the mood at the moment. Instead she made her way to her bed.

Her mind was going in circles about her thoughts, her worries, and Vader's words. She especially thought back to the conversation the two had had earlier. It was unlike any conversation she had with Vader. Before all their conversations seemed to verbal battles. It was filled with Vader's smug arrogance and threats. Yet this conversation held none of that. In fact Vader had been sincere and comforting. He offered solid advice.

He actually seemed to care. Honestly cared about Padmé. Which wasn't like Vader at all. Vader saw her as a possession. Something to manipulate and mold into his desired object. He didn't care for her mental well being. He was the constant cause of her anguish and tears. He didn't care how much he hurt her, as long as he got what he wanted in the end. So to see this change in character in him . . . with those blue eyes . . . and the way he acted around the children.

Was Anakin Skywalker gone?

Chapter Text

Chapter Seventeen: The Dress Up

Padmé sat on the floor with Leia sitting on her lap. The mother had found a strand of silver beads in her closet and was weaving it into the girls hair. Leia sat still and quiet as she let her hair be spun and coiled into a fancy updo. Draped around the small girl was an elaborately embroidered scarf that had been found in the closet. Delicate flowers in silver, gold, and purple threads snaked along a dark blue fabric. Small gold tassels hung off the edges of the scarf.

"You look just like a princess, Leia," Luke had said when Padmé had wrapped the scarf around Leia.

The twins had discovered Padmé's mostly untouched closet in her bedroom. Vader had supplied Padmé with a few practical but rather dull outfits. Though rather shapeless and bland, she had stuck to wearing them than any of the fancy clothes. Yet the twins had been fascinated with the closet. Thus they had started their game of dress up.

Padmé couldn't help but smile at Leia's own joy. Not that Padmé discounted Luke's enjoyment, but Luke was much easier to please. Leia still had shadows of sadness, and she truly seemed to enjoy the lush fabrics and accessories.

Padmé was aware that Alderaan held a bit of an austere fashion sense. True the clothes could be very beautiful and well-made, but there was a sense of simplicity. Those from Alderaan were not known for their loud fashion statements. It might have been Leia's first experience with such clothes seeing Padmé's wildly colorful and extensive wardrobe.

"There," Padmé said as she finished pinning Leia's hair into a nest of curls and silver beads.

"I want to dress up too!" Luke said doing a series of small excited jumps. "I want to be a prince!"

The three quickly went to search the closet. Padmé had no care for taking the outfits off their hangars and throwing them to the floor. She was looking for something that would fit the small boy's frame. Eventually they settled on short-sleeve top that Padmé tied the bottom of to allow Luke to walk freely. The top was green with beaded details along the collar.

The twins eventually found a necklace that Luke managed to balance on his head as a crown. Once the children were done getting dressed, they turned their attention to their mother.

"You have to get dressed up, too!" Luke said.

Leia smiled and nodded enthusiastically. "Yes! Please put on a dress!"

While Padmé kept her smile up in front her children, she couldn't help the small pang in her heart as she glanced at the clothes. She still had an aversion to wearing these clothes. Clothes picked out by Vader.

"You have to be the queen!" Luke added. "For the prince and the princess."

"I bet you'll look really pretty," Leia added.

Padmé looked from one set of blue eyes to another set of brown eyes. She couldn't say no to either of them. "But whichever one shall I wear?" she said as looked back over at the messy closet. "Perhaps you two shall help pick an outfit out?" The twins broke out in a large smile and both rushed off. They grabbed at some outfits as they decided which one would be best.

A short time later Padmé was dressed in a rather mix-matched outfit. She wore a silk shirt in light teal picked out by Leia. Over that was a heavy velvet jacket in a dark red with gold borders picked out by Luke. The bottom was a flowing skirt in purple with a geometric motif pattern in a darker purple that had been picked out by both children. Padmé picked out a simple headpiece of some beaded strands.

The three then paraded their way around the bedroom. Leia was trying to show Luke how to walk like a proper prince with his chin parallel to the ground and a straight back. Padmé simply watched her children when she felt hands softly settle on her shoulders. She gave a small jump, but otherwise didn't turn to face him. She felt Vader's body step up close behind her. She felt the heat of his body on her back. One hand came down from the shoulder and ran through the loose curls on her back.

"Father!" Luke exclaimed as he noticed Vader. He trotted over. "How do I look?"

"Wonderful," Vader replied. Padmé could hear his amusement.

"How does mother look? Leia and I picked it out!" Luke said as came and wrapped his arms around Padmé's waist. Leia had walked up behind Luke. Though she didn't embrace her mother, she stood close by. Her big eyes locked on her father.

Vader stepped out from Padmé's back. He gave an exaggerated look over her body with his blue eyes. "Why my love I must say you look absolutely beautiful. Your outfit is stunning." he said with a smile. Both twins smiled back at the warm compliments.

"We're playing. Mother is a queen," Luke explained. "I'm a prince and Leia is a princess. Do you want to play with us? You can be the king."

"A king? No I'm afraid that won't do," Vader said. Luke frowned. "I'll be something much more than that. An emperor with your mother as my empress." Vader was staring at Padmé, and though his eyes were blue, they seemed cold and hard.

Yet their son in his sweet pure innocence, noticed nothing amiss. "Ok," he said happy to merely have his father join in his game. "You need to get dressed." Luke unwrapped himself from Padmé and grabbed Vader's gloved hand. He started to pull his father towards the closet. Leia only moved closer to Padmé. Her small form was leaning against Padmé's legs.

"Leia?" Padmé asked. The girl didn't look up, but kept looking into the closet.

"It wasn't a game," she said softly. Padmé knelt down and gently put an arm around the girl. Leia looked over at her mother. "It wasn't a game. He's not playing. He really is the Emperor." Leia's eyes were filled with fear, and Padmé could only hug her daughter in a tight embrace in hopes of chasing it away before Vader returned and noticed something amiss.

Padmé felt shamed that it was the first time she had thought about what her children knew. What did they know about the galaxy? The Empire? The Emperor? Luke appeared to not know much, but Leia did. She knew Vader was the Emperor. What had she learned about him? Did she follow the propaganda-filled holonews broadcasts? Knowing Bail Organa, surely not.

Bail, Padmé thought. What had become of him? Of his wife? What had happened when Vader came to claim his daughter? Padmé could hear Luke finishing up dressing up his father. Yet Padmé could still tell Leia was not comfortable.

"Leia listen to me," she said. The young girl looked over. "You are Leia Organa, Princess of Alderaan. You're going to be brave. You're going to make your parents proud." To say some of these things tore at Padmé. To call Leia a different name. To say she had different parents. Yet she knew this was a moment where Leia needed strength. "You will face the Emperor, your father. Your birth father. And you will not be afraid."

A long moment stretched between the two as Leia stared at Padmé. She was clearly contemplating the words. Finally she gave a small nod of her head. Padmé stood back up.

"Leia! Mother!" Luke called as he came jogging out of the closet. "Look at father!"

Padmé couldn't stop the laugh that escaped her. She could feel Leia loosen up as well. Vader wore a long cloak, possibly one of the few items of clothing that would actually fit his form. The cloak started off as a steel blue and blended down into a dark gray at the bottom. Small white beads were woven into a swirling pattern around the bottom. Vader had been accessorized with a few chunky bracelets and an impressive red-stoned necklace that was acting as a crown.

Vader walked over to the girls. He wrapped his arms around Padmé. His eyes were blue, sparkling with humor and warmth.

"Now your highness," Vader said lightheartedly. "Is that how you greet your Emperor?"

"Forgive me your majesty," Padmé said. "But your choice of outfit today is . . ." She paused and glanced down at Luke, who now stood nearby. His eyes were wide, and he was hanging on to every word.

"Amazing? Spectacular? Stunning?" Vader offered. "Alluring?"

"Let's go with unbelievable," Padmé said as she pulled away from him.

The rest of the day and evening went along smoothly. After the twins were put to bed, Padmé retreated into her bedroom to finally free herself from the mismatched clothes. Vader followed her and came to stand right behind her. One hand wrapped around her waist. He leaned over and placed his mouth on the base of her neck. He then started to give slow open-mouthed kisses that moved up her neck.

As he reached the top of her neck, he said in a low husky voice, "And you say you are a bad mother." He paused to give off another kiss. "It appears you are doing an excellent job, my empress." The way he said the last word was filled with pleasure and a certain sense of twisted joy. "Though I don't believe these clothes are really fit for such a title."

Again he started to kiss along her neck, this time moving down the neck. Both his hands moved and started to peel off the velvet jacket. Once her arms were free of the jacket, Vader dropped it to the floor and then moved on to the skirt. He undid the hidden clasps and the zipper and let the smooth fabric fall to the ground. One gloved hand and one calloused hand slid under the silky shirt against her sides. The hands lifted the shirt over her head and threw it to the ground.

Vader gently spun her so she faced him. His gold eyes traveled up and down her body, which still wore her under garments. A pleased smile ran across his lips.

"Now this is much more fitting of my empress," he said as he cupped her face in his hands.

That night after Vader had fallen asleep, Padmé still found herself awake. Her mind couldn't stop thinking back to Vader and Anakin. She had given up believing that Anakin had survived. She had lost him, her husband, her love of her life. Yet now Padmé was starting to doubt that. There was no way Vader could be this kind.

Suddenly, Vader jolted awake and sat straight up in bed. He was tense and his eyes seem to focus on something beyond that room. Then he took a sharp intake of air, before he threw the covers off of him and ran out of the room.

What was wrong? Is it the children? Something with the ship? The Empire?

Yet Padmé couldn't shake her worries and fears that it was the children. She slipped out of bed and wrapped a white silk robe around her. The door to the bedroom was still open. As she approached it she saw Vader exiting the hallway door across the living room. He was carrying Leia, whose tiny arms were wrapped tightly around her father. Her head was buried into his neck.

Padmé took a step back into the room as Vader entered. "What happened?" she asked. At hearing Padmé's voice, Leia brought her head up and looked at her mother. Her face was stained with tears. Upon seeing her mother, Leia let go of Vader and reached out for her mother with a small whine. Padmé stepped forward and took the child into her own arms.

"It was a bad dream," Vader said. He placed his flesh hand on Leia's back and started to rub it comfortably.

Padmé carried Leia back over to the bed. She placed Leia down and got into the bed with her. Leia curled up against her mother as Padmé pulled the covers over both of them. Padmé wrapped an arm around her child. Vader came into the bed a few moments later. He slid under the covers and placed his flesh hand on Leia's hand. Eventually Leia's whimpers calmed down and an even breathing fell upon the child as she fell asleep.

Padmé looked up into the blue eyes of her husband. He smiled warmly over at her. A new fresh ache tore through Padmé's heart.

Anakin.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18: The Prisoners

Leia continued to have nightmares. They plagued her almost every time the small child fell asleep. As such it plagued Padmé's rest as well. It had only been three days since the first nightmare, and Padmé was exhausted. The past two days Vader had barely been around. Even when he was there, his mind seemed preoccupied. She once asked him what was bothering him, but he of course told her not to worry about it.

Padmé now found herself in her own bed. She had already gone through one fit of Leia's nightmares this night cycle. Now Padmé hoped she herself could get some rest. She fell into an uneasy sleep. She wasn't sure how long she slept for before she was woken up. Small hands pulled and pushed on her. The children's cries snapped her awake with her heart pounding. As soon as she sat up, both twins wrapped their arms around their mother and squeezed tightly.

"What's wrong?" she asked them.

Leia buried her head into her mother's side. Luke looked up at her mother. His blue eyes were wide and full of fear. Padmé feared that now both twins were suffering nightmares, but then a strong vibration shook the room. The furniture rattled. Both children whimpered and squeezed their mother tighter. Padmé's attention snapped to the large viewport.

Bright bolts of green and red raced across the view. Swarms of Imperial TIE fighters zipped by. Other starfighters, enemy craft, also fell by in formation chasing after or being chased by the TIEs. They were in a battle.

No wonder the children are terrified, Padmé thought as her thoughts went to how to console and comfort her children.

It ended up being a long day as the battle waged on. The twins clung to her waist all day and cried whenever she forced them apart from her. She remembered preparing food and looking over to see both twins sitting at the table. Their eyes were wide and ready to flow with tears. Each time the room shook or the scream the TIE engines filled the room, the two would whimper and call out for their mother to quickly finish and return to their side.

The ship was now slowly cycling into the night cycle once again. The twins both slept in Padmé's large bed. She had led them to bed early and was thankful when they both finally fell asleep. She herself was just falling asleep when she felt a weight lean against the side of the bed. Then she felt his hand rub down the side of her arm. She shrugged him off.

"Here I've been gone all day," he said in a whisper. "Only to find my wife in bed with another." She rolled over to look at him. He sat on the edge of the bed. He glanced over at the two sleeping children. "I see you still have a taste for blonde hair and blue eyes," he joked with a cocky smile.

"What can I say?" she said a bit dryly. "He's younger. Kinder. And way more enjoyable company than you."

The amusement never left his face. "I suppose that may be true," he said.

Padmé threw off the covers, while Vader stood up to let her out of the bed. She pulled the covers gently back up around the children. Without giving Vader a second look, she walked out of the bedroom. She marched over to the viewport in the sitting area. Debri of the battle littered the space around the destroyer. She heard Vader approach. She turned sharply to face him.

"How dare you!" she hissed in a soft voice. She didn't want to wake the children with her shouting. It was the last thing they needed after their day. "How dare you bring this ship into battle!"

Vader crossed his arms across chest and raised an eyebrow. "It's a star destroyer, my dear. Going into battle is what it is made to do."

"And how many star destroyers do you have?" she said as she pointed a finger at him. "Hundreds? Thousands? You didn't have to bring this star destroyer into battle. The one with your children on it." A smile crossed Vader's face early into her rant. He looked quite amused. "This isn't a joking matter!" she snapped at him.

"This overprotective mother side of you is new," he said. "You and the children were never in any danger."

"Never in any danger? There were TIEs flying right outside the viewport. I felt this ship get hit by cannon fire. Don't tell me were never in any danger!"

He sighed and shook his head slightly. "As if I'd let such miserable little worms win," he said.

She clenched her teeth. "And what if they did? What if they managed to get a lucky shot off?"

"They didn't," he said. "They couldn't. Not against me."

She bit back a frustrated scream that wanted to be let loose. "Then get another ship," she said. "Find another ship and use that ship to go into your stupid little battles with. Not this ship. Not this ship withyour children on it. Do you have any idea how terrified they were today? They clung to me all day crying! You want to go and play Vader the conqueror? Fine! Do it away from my children! Your children!

"Or," she continued, "Make a detour to Imperial Center. Or put us on a shuttle. Bring us to your palace." She took a deep breath. Then another. Feeling herself calm a bit. "In fact that'd probably be for the best. A war ship is no place for children. Not that this place isn't nice, but . . . this isn't normal. Healthy. What about school? Friends?"

He was quiet for a while. His eyes were focused on the viewport and the aftermath of the battle beyond. He walked over to her. He slid his glove hand around the base of her neck to her back.

"Our children deserve the best, and they shall have it," he said. "As I've said before, when my duties in space are finished, we shall return to Imperial Center. Everything is already arranged. Luke and Leia will enjoy my palace. I already have the best tutors lined up. Until then I will not bring this ship into any planned battles. I can't promise it won't be attacked, but I will avoid bringing it into any conflicts."

"Thank you," she said as she glanced down.

He brought his flesh hand up to her face. His knuckles gently brushed her cheek. "Don't worry, Padmé. Everything will be fine. Everything at the palace is the best for the twins." He was smiling warmly at her. "And if it isn't to your liking, it can be easily changed. Now then I think it's time you got some sleep. You appear to be quite tired, my love."

She let out a deep sigh. She was tired, but she wasn't ready to go to bed just yet.

"Is that all you wanted to talk about?" he asked as he leaned his forehead against hers. His flesh hand moved to rest softly on her shoulder. His glove hand moved slowly up and down her back in a comforting manner.

"No," she answered.

"Hmmm? What else?"

"I'm worried about Leia," she said.

"That she is still clinging on to those imposters?" Vader said in a dark voice.

"It's her nightmares," Padmé said. "She keeps having them. They're about . . ."

"The Organas," Vader said. He sounded disgusted and annoyed.

"What- what happened when you went to Alderaan? When you got Leia? What happened . . . what happened to the Organas?" She was hesitant in asking this.

"I arrived at the palace. I had the queen and the senator arrested. I collected Leia and returned back here. That was it."

"You . . . you didn't hurt the Organas in front of Leia?"

"No," he said clearly annoyed. "I didn't even let them see each other. By the time I had Leia, the Organas were already being transported back to the Devastator's detention block."

"What happened after they got to the detention block?" Padmé asked.

"Why does it matter?" Vader snapped. "They took your daughter. Lied to her. Now she doesn't even see you as her mother."

Padmé couldn't help the small tremor that ran through her. She took a deep breath. She had to keep going. She needed answers. "I'm just worried," she said. "Her dreams are about Bail and Breha being in pain . . . I was just afraid that . . . when you had your dreams about your mother, that Leia might be experiencing the same thing."

There was a sudden drop of a temperature. Padmé could feel Vader's grip on her shoulder tighten.

"Don't you dare compare my dreams to Leia's," he hissed lowly. She knew she was going to hit a nerve bringing up his mother.

"I . . . I . . . It's just . . . It looks the same," she pleaded. "She can't sleep for long before she wakes up crying about her parents."

"They are not her parents," Vader growled.

"Yes, I know," Padmé agreed hoping to ease his anger. However she did keep going, not wanting to end the conversation yet. "Regardless, she still dreams of them. What have you done to the Organas?"

"Nothing," he replied shortly.

"Nothing?" she asked as she watched his expression. His anger had died down. He now just looked highly annoyed.

"Nothing," he confirmed.

Padmé sighed. "What does nothing mean?"

"It means I've done nothing to them," he spat. "I haven't even visited them." Her mouth opened ready to respond, but she couldn't find the words. She was surprised. He added, "They're still locked up, of course."

"Why haven't you gone to see them?"

He looked away from her. His eyes again going out the viewport. "Honestly? I don't have the time," he finally replied.

She couldn't help but scoff. "You don't have the time? You're the emperor. You make time."

He looked over at her. The corner of his lips tugged at a smile. "I'm busy," he said. "My attention has been quite distracted of late." He let the smile fully grow across his face. "I've had my family pull me away from my duties quite a bit." He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. "When I'm not with you and the twins, I have a lot of work to catch up on. Even now it is piling up. I just don't have the time to deal with those traitors at the moment."

She couldn't help but wonder how much of what he said was true. She had a hard time believing he had left the Organas alone.

Vader sighed. It sounded annoyed. "I see you don't believe me," he grumbled.

Padmé couldn't help but blush, but said angrily, "Don't read my mind!"

"I'm not," he said. "You're just projecting your thoughts and emotions quite loudly at the moment. But very well I shall show you."

He looped his arm into hers and led her towards the hallway. They passed the twin's room and after a few doors they came to his office. It was déjà vu for her. It was almost a repeat of the last time she was in here. Vader let go of her aem and walked to the large holotable in the middle of the room. He started typing into a control panel.

The first holo came up. It showed two people huddled together in a cramped cell. They had a blanket wrapped over their backs. The two clung to it and to each other. It was clear they were shivering. She stepped forward to get a closer look. These two were not the Organas. They were dressed far more simply.

"The Lars," Vader said matter-of-factly.

He clicked a button and the image changed. This time Padmé immediately recognized Breha Organa. She was in a cell alone pacing back and forth. Again with a push of a button, the image changed. This time it was Bail Organa. He sat on the edge of the bench that ran across the length of the back of the cell. He was hunched over, his head in his hands. Despite all of them looking miserable and uncomfortable, none of them appeared to be hurt or injured.

"How-how do I know this is real?" she asked. "How do I know this happening now? That this is just some trick?"

"Give me a number one through five," he said. She just stared at him. What game was he playing now? He sighed. "Just give me a number."

"Three," she replied a bit hesitant.

"Another," he said again.

"Five?"

"Another."

"One."

He walked back over to the control panel of his large holotable and started to type something in.

"I don't understand," she said. "Why the numbers?"

He stopped typing and took a step back. The table was still projecting the holo of Bail Organa hunched over. Suddenly the door to his cell opened and an Imperial officer walked in. Bail stood up and stared at the officier. His face was grim, but there was also fear there as well. The officer turned and looked straight up into the camera. He brought his hand up and flashed three numbers with his fingers: three, five, one. Without a word, the officier left. The door slid close behind him. Bail just stood there looking terribly confused.

"This is a live feed, my dear," Vader explained. "As you can see Organa is truly fine. Come, let's go. You're quite tired."

Vader moved towards the door, but Padmé stayed where she was. Vader had turned the holo off, but Padmé still looked at where it had stood. Her mind went back to the last time she was here in this office.

Rion, she thought.

"I see you do still care for him. It's tearing you apart to see him like this," Vader had said softly to her as she looked at the hologram of Rion. He was strapped to the table and blood pouring from his mouth. Two medical droids were stepping to care for the wound of having his tongue cut out.

Shame swelled inside of her. She hadn't thought about him since . . . at least since Vader had threatened Naboo. Possibly since she saw him in the cell. She became aware that Vader had come to stand at her side. A smug smile played across his lips.

"Nothing to be a ashamed of, my angel," he said. "I knew you would easily forget about your little Rebel friend." He placed a hand on her shoulder. "I knew once your family was back together again, he would become insignificant."

She was at a lost of words. She wanted to bite back a sharp retort at how wrong he was, except he wasn't. She had forgotten about Rion. She had gotten so swept up in the children, that she hadn't even spared a thought for Rion. How could she just forget about him? After everything he had gone through because of her? Vader once again moved to the holo table.

"I see you're still having a problem trusting my word," Vader said.

A new holo came up from the table. It was Rion, but no longer was he strapped down to a hard metal bed. He looked to be in a normal bed, with sheets covering him. She noticed the prosthetic hand as well as a foot-shaped bump where his missing foot had been earlier.

"I promised I would make his life better as long as you continued to keep up your end of the bargain to stay in your place," Vader said. "I always keep my promises." He waved his hand at the holo.

Padmé didn't say a word. She just stared at Rion. He did look better. He didn't look as thin or ill. He looked as if he was merely sleeping, like she had seen him do many times before. The holo shut off and Vader wrapped an arm around her shoulder. He didn't say anything as he led her out of the office.

Her mind was swimming in guilt. She had forgotten about him, but Vader hadn't. He had made Rion's life better. He had given him the prosthetics, taken him out of the cell. She wondered if he was brought out of his coma. Yet she hadn't even given him a thought over the past few days. She had been so consumed with worry when Vader demanded to know where the children were. So consumed by the children themselves.

They had made it back to the living room when Padmé suddenly stopped. Vader stopped beside her. She looked at him. His eyes were yellow. She tried to recall if they had been yellow the whole night. Were they blue earlier? She hadn't been paying attention.

"Something wrong?" Vader asked.

"I just . . . I just can't figure out who you are," she said. He crossed his arms across his chest and tilted his head slightly sideways. "Are you Vader?"

"Yes," he said simply. "Who else would I be?"

She casted her eyes downward. "My husband," she said in a soft whisper. She couldn't look at him. She couldn't see those eyes. She felt a hand land softly a shoulder and then felt a glove hand come under her chin. He lifted her chin to look at him.

"I am your husband," he said softly. "As you are my wife."

His eyes were still yellow, but his expression was soft. Caring. Concerned. But she was still confused. Vader would have tortured and executed the Organas by now. Vader wanted Padmé to be turned into a meek obedient wife. By the gods, she had no idea what Vader had planned for her children. But she had never seen Vader emerge around the children.

"Yes, you are my husband," she replied still keeping her voice soft. "But my husband is Anakin Skywalker." She looked into his yellow eyes. "So who are you?"

There was a moment of confusion in him as he searched her eyes. But then his expression darkened. He took a step back.

"Do not mistake me, my wife," Darth Vader hissed. A cold chill washed through Padmé. "You see my inaction as kindness? That I'm sparing the Organas? I haven't touched them yet, because they deserve my full undivided attention. I want no distractions. And then I will make those traitors pay for their crimes. I will enjoy watching them beg for death, as it would be the better alternative than to live what I have planned."

She couldn't help the small, "No," that escaped her.

"Why do you care for them?" he said as once again he closed the distance between them. "You turned to them for help. They abused it! They kept your daughter as their own! The daughter that doesn't see us as her real parents. Now she's plagued by nightmares about them."

"Nightmares because of you!" Padmé said as she leaned forward and grabbed his shoulders. "Don't you see? She dreams of what will happen to them! You can stop this! Please, Anakin!"

He tightly gripped her chin with his hand. "That. Is. Not. My. Name," he growled between clenched teeth.

The two stayed like that for a minute. Tears welled up in Padmé's eyes. Vader's eyes were a harsh glowing yellow. Then finally he let go of her chin and stepped away. Without another word or glance back, he stormed back down the hallway towards his office. Padmé sunk to the floor crying.

She didn't cry due to the cruel Vader that had just been unleashed. She was far to used of that. She cried for Anakin. She had seen him briefly. He was fighting inside. That moment of confusion told her all she needed to know. Her husband wasn't dead. Anakin Skywalker still lived and he still fought.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19: The Flight

After lunch was quiet hour. Luke didn't have to nap, but he did have to be quietly in his bed. Sometimes he looked at books. He didn't know how to read as well as Leia, so if often meant just looking at the pictures. But he loved looking at them. They were made from real paper. However, today he was bored of looking at books.

He climbed out of bed. He adjusted his clothes. He still wasn't quite used to the fancy clothes he now wore. He kind of missed his old Tatooine clothes. These clothes were too soft or too slinky. Luke made his way across the room to Leia's bed. Both his mother and Leia were asleep in the bed. Mother's arms were wrapped around Leia.

He looked at his two new family members. He was still getting used to the idea of having a mother, a father, and a sister. So far he liked it. Father was very different from Uncle Owen. Uncle Owen was a bit strict, as Aunt Beru liked to call it. He always seemed to have a frown on his face. But Father was very nice. He played with Luke. He also gave hugs and kisses, which was something Uncle Owen never did.

Mother was very nice and pretty. Like Father, she also played with Luke. Yet there were times when he missed his aunt. Sometimes he missed the food she made or the small pats on the head she would give Luke. However, the best thing about his new family had to be Leia. The moment he met Leia he liked her. Back on Tatooine he didn't have a sister nor a brother. It was great to have someone to play with. Leia wasn't mean to Luke like his classmates had been. She was the best sister.

Luke sighed as looked as his mother and sister asleep in the bed. Leia kept having nightmares. Her nightmares sometimes woke him up too. He could sense how scared she was. One time he saw one her nightmares in his own dreams. He wasn't sure what to make of it. There was a lady and a man. They were screaming. They were in pain. A lot of pain. Luke brought his hand up and gently patted Leia on the top of the head. Right now Leia looked like she was sleeping soundly, so did Mother.

Luke made his back to his side of the room. He collected his favorite toy skyhopper from the floor and sat on his bed. He knew Leia missed her family. Her other family. The family before she had come to live with this family. Luke again thought of his aunt. In fact when he thought about his aunt and uncle, really thought about them, he could tell they were close. He thought they would be far away back on Tatooine. But no, they were here. On this big ship somewhere. He was certain.

Luke could also sense his father if he really thought about him. Luke jumped off his bed and entered the hallway. To his left was the sitting room and kitchen, with his parents' room beyond that. To the right the hallway kept going. He had never gone that way before, but Father was down there right now. He sometimes spent time down there when he said he was working. Clutching his skyhopper, Luke walked down the hallway.

He passed several doors until he came to the door he knew Father was behind. He reached up and pressed the button to open the door. Nothing happened. That was odd. The doors always opened when he pressed the button. He tried again. Still nothing happened. He looked at the ground unsure of what to do next.

But then the door slid open. Father stood there looking down at Luke. "Luke?" Father asked. He bent down picked Luke up. Luke wrapped his legs around his father's waist and his arms around his father's neck. "What are you doing here?" his father asked. "Where are your mother and Leia?"

"Asleep. They're napping," Luke answered.

Father turned and walked into the room. Luke got a good look of the room and realized it was a . . . He didn't know what kind of room this was. There wasn't a room like this back at Uncle Owen's home. A large circular holoprojector stood in the middle. It projected a large blue hologram of a bunch of stars. There were red and blue blinking dots scattered around the stars. Father walked closer to the table.

"Is this where you go to work?" Luke asked noting the large desk behind Father.

"Sometimes," Father replied.

"What do you do?" Luke knew when Uncle Owen was working he was collecting water or working on vaporators or droids. Yet he wasn't sure what Father did. Leia said he was the Emperor, but she said this to him in whispers. As if it was a secret. A secret she was scared of.

"Hmmm," his father said. "I keep the galaxy safe." Luke followed his father's eyes to the star holograms. He then realized it was hologram of the galaxy.

"The whole galaxy?" Luke asked. "That seems like a lot. Like a lot a lot."

"It is my little one," Father said softly. He leaned forward and kissed Luke's head.

"I guess that's why you're busy a lot," Luke said.

"I try not to be. I would rather be with you and Leia and your mother." Luke leaned against his father. He placed his head on Father's large shoulder. Father brought up a hand and gently stroked Luke's hair. "Now," Father said. "You never told me why you are here."

Luke leaned back so he could look at his father properly. He looked into Father's blue eyes. "I want to see Aunt Beru," Luke said.

There was a slight flinch in Father's face. The room suddenly felt different. Luke glanced around, but found nothing amiss. Yet there was an unease growing. A sense of cold.

"Why do you think you can see your aunt?" Father asked. His voice sounded off. It was no longer the soft warm voice from earlier.

"I can feel her," Luke explained as he looked back at his father, who was staring intently at his son.

"Feel her?"

"Mmmm. Yeah. If I think about her really, really hard and close my eyes. She's here on this ship!" Luke explained. Father was quiet for a moment before he brought Luke closer and tighter to him.

"Ahhh I see." The warm voice was back. "Oh how strong you already are my little one. But no, Luke, you cannot see your aunt."

Luke frowned. "Why not?"

Father turned back towards the projection of the galaxy. "I said I work to keep the galaxy safe, yes?" Luke nodded. "I'm afraid your aunt and uncle were helping a bad man. A very dangerous and bad man. He's responsible for a lot of bad things. I'm trying to find him." Luke looked up at him. "That man would try to take you away from me. He would try to take Leia and your mother away too. I'm trying to keep you all safe."

Luke frowned again. He wasn't completely sure about what Father was talking about. Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen were good people. He had never seen them help anyone who was a bad person. Luke had seen bad people before. People who worked for the Hutts who came along demanding the water tax. But Uncle Owen never helped them.

"Are- are you sure?" Luke asked.

"Trust me, Luke, I am," Father said as planted a small kiss on Luke's forehead. Luke was about to argue when a beeping sound came from the large desk stopped him. Father, still holding Luke, walked over to a comlink blinking on the desk. "Luke, be quiet," Father said as he picked up the com.

"Vader," Father said in a very dark voice.

"Your majesty. The committee has gathered," came a voice from the com.

"I will be there in ten minutes," Father replied in his dark voice. Yet then Father was back to normal. A warm smile crept upon his lips as he looked down at Luke. When he spoke his voice was kind and warm. "Now let's get you back to your mother before she wakes up and worries where you've gone."


That night Luke slept. Yet then he became aware of big warm hands pulling at him. He slowly came awake and noticed his father was changing his clothes. Luke thought about helping him, he was a big boy after all, but he was so tired. He kept flopping back down on his bed, and each time he thought he'd finally get back to sleep, his father would sit him up. Eventually Luke was dressed in a warm outfit with boots.

Then Luke was picked up by his father. Luke leaned against his father's chest and closed his eyes. Luckily, his father let him sleep this time. He came awake briefly when he felt his father sit down and turn Luke around. Luke was sitting in his father's lap with his back to his father's front, but the boy slumped over and fell asleep against his father's arm.

"Luke," his father called. "Wake up."

There was a gentle nodding in his mind. Luke. He snuggled against his father's arm in protest. A small chuckle left the father. Luke felt a hand come up to his head and start to stroke his hair.

"Luke, wake up."

Luke opened his eyes. He immediately noticed everything was tinted in a red light. He rubbed his eyes and straightened up. His father's arms came to wrap loosely around Luke's waist keeping him secure in his father's lap. Ahead stars lazily moved ahead of through an octanglal viewport. Below the viewport were two handles of a steering yoke.

Luke was now wide awake as he looked around the small room. Small monitor panels were spread out by the yoke. Electrical panels and buttons filled the rest of the room. He was in a ship! Not like the big ship where he had been living, but a small ship. Like his skyhopper toy!

"What?" Luke finally asked as he his head tilted to the side so he could look up at his father. His father had a huge grin on his face.

"This is my fighter," Father explained. He slowly unwrapped one arm from Luke's waist and grabbed one of the handles of the yoke. He nudged the steering and the stars in the viewport slightly moved in response. Luke let out a delighted gasp.

"Can- can we go flying?" Luke asked eagerly.

"You have to stay seated," Father replied.

Luke agreed. Father's other hand reluctantly unwrapped from Luke's waist and took hold of the other handle of the yoke. He pushed and turned the yoke, and they were flying. They were flying! Luke was flying! In a ship! Amongst the stars! Just like he always dreamed he would. His small hands grabbed onto his father's pants to make sure he kept seated. He wanted to jump up and get a closer look out the viewport.

Father took his ship through space. Zig-zagging. Up and down. He even did a flip. Luke squealed in delight. Father turned the ship and Luke saw five white arrow shaped ships in the distance of space. Luke could tell they were large, massive ships. He had seen them before, in brief glimpses on the holonews.

"That's where Mother and Leia are," Luke said as he pointed at one of the ships.

"Yes," Father replied. "How did you know that, youngling?"

"It's easy to find Leia," Luke said. "She's the easiest person to find. Easier than you. I don't even have to close my eyes and think real hard to find her." Father let out a small laugh. "Can I steer?" Luke asked as he eyed the two handles.

"I'm afraid you're still too small, Luke," Father replied. Luke reached out his arms, and it was true. He couldn't reach the yoke. He started to scoot forward in his seat, but Father let go of the handle to pull him back in his lap. "When you're bigger you can steer."

"And when will that be?" Luke whined. "When I'm six?"

"Hmmm. I don't know."

"When I'm seven?"

"Possibly not until you're twelve."

"Twelve?" Luke said aghast. "Twelve. But that's old. That's really really old!" Father let out a hearty laugh in reply.


Luke jumped and skipped through the halls of the big ship. Or at least he tried his best while he held his father's hand. The hangar where Father docked his fighter had been filled with other fighters. Father promised Luke that he'd be able to ride in them all one day. As they made their way through the big, long halls, they passed other people. Luke had never seen them before. He wasn't surprised that other people lived on the big ship like he did with Father and Mother.

Some of them wore gray uniforms. A few wore black. There were also a lot of white armored guards. Luke smiled at them and waved at a few, but none them seemed to notice him. Their eyes would just glaze over him and keep looking down the hall. Perhaps they just didn't like kids. Luke didn't see any other kids on this ship. He only saw adults.

After a long ride in a turbolift, which was also very exciting to Luke who had never ridden in one before, Father picked up Luke. Luke chatted about the fighter and the flight.

"And then you did the flip!" Luke said excitedly. "Did you remember that? And then we saw the big ships, remember?"

"Yes," Father would reply to each of Luke's questions.

They came to two large doors. Father stopped at the door control, and shortly the two doors slid open. Luke quieted down as soon as he saw the two bright red caped men standing on either side of the door. He leaned into his father and hugged him tighter. The men were scary. But father just walked by them. He didn't say a word. Didn't even look at them. His father was so brave.

"Who are they?" Luke whispered when they had left them behind.

"The royal guard."

"What's that?"

"They protect our family. Protect you."

"They're scary," Luke said softly.

"You have nothing to fear from them," Father said soothingly.

They shortly came to another door. Again Luke heard the beeps as Father pressed buttons at the control. Luke wiggled in his Father's grasp. They were back. Back to their home. Leia and Mother were on the other side of this door. Luke was a bit surprised to see once they went through the first door, they were in a small hallway with yet another door. Really how many doors do you need? Only bedrooms had doors back in his home on Tatooine, and that was to keep the sand out.

But then they were in the kitchen. Sitting by the large viewport were Leia and Mother playing with each other. Father stopped at the edge of the kitchen watching them. Luke noticed the pain in his father. It was always there when he was around Mother. Like a bruise.

Luke leaned over and kissed his father twice on the cheek. "There, there. It'll be better." It was what Aunt Beru used to do to him whenever he got hurt.

"And what was that for?" Father asked.

"For your hurtie," Luke explained.

"My hurtie? I'm not hurt."

Luke just looked up at his father. It was so obvious he was. "You hurt in here," Luke said as he tapped his father's chest. "Whenever you're around Mother. You hurt."

Father looked at Luke in surprise. "Ah . . ." he finally said. "I see. Yes, I suppose you are right. Thank you, Luke."

Father let Luke down. Luke gave one more glance up at his father before he ran over to his mother and sister. He could no longer hold back his excitement. He had to tell them about flying the fighter.

Chapter Text

Chapter 20: The Parents

"No!" Leia screamed. "I want my real mommy and daddy!"

She ran from the bedroom she shared with Luke, leaving her brother and mother behind. Her other mother. Not her real one. Her real mother braided Leia's hair the proper and correct way and told her stories about Alderaan. She missed her real mother so much. And her real father.

She ran into the living area and glanced around wildly. There were no good places to hide in there. There were only two couches and a bookshelf. She wanted to be alone, so she kept running into her fake parents' bedroom. This room was also very empty. She glanced at the two doors to her right. She jogged over to the closet and keyed the door panel. She rushed into the closet and wove herself into the many long dresses and clothes. Once she felt she was hidden enough, she sunk to the floor and brought her knees to her chest.

Hot tears flooded down her face. She didn't want to live on this ship any more. She wanted to go home. To Alderaan. But that stupid man wouldn't let her. Her so-called father. He was nothing like her papa. Leia knew that her father was the Emperor. Her birth father. The stupid father she now had to live with. That had taken her away from her family. She was just so tired of having to be nice to him and to everyone.

Leia heard the door to the closet open and she stiffened. Soft footsteps were heard and soon clothes were being pushed back. Small hands pulled open the dresses Leia was hiding in. Luke looked sadly down at his sister. He didn't say anything. Instead he sat down next to her.

"It's not ok," Leia snapped at him. Luke looked over at her questioningly. "I know that's what you're going to say. It's going to be ok. But it's not!"

Quiet fell between the two. Leia just wrapped her arms around her knees and squeezed them. Luke put a hand on Leia's arm. She looked over at her brother's blue eyes. The same blue eyes as that guy. Unlike Leia, Luke seemed to love his new family. Leia could feel it. Luke loved his new mother and father. But then again Luke didn't have a mother or father before. Just some aunt or uncle. Luke didn't really understand what Leia was going through.

"Aunt Beru is on this big ship," Luke said quietly. Leia had not been expecting Luke to say that. "I asked Father if I could see her. I miss her. I wanted to tell her all about my new home. But . . . Father wouldn't let me."

"Hmph. Of course," Leia mumbled.

"Father said it was because Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen were helping some very bad man that wanted to take me and you and Mother away from Father," Luke explained.

"Good," Leia said. "I hope someone does take me away from him." Leia could sense Luke was uncomfortable. But as Leia thought about Luke's words, questions started to form. She turned to her brother. "Do you have nightmares about your aunt and uncle?"

"No," Luke said.

"Then how do you know they're here?" Leia asked.

"Because I feel them?"

Leia looked at her brother. "What does that mean?"

"Well if I think about my aunt really really hard and close my eyes, I can feel she is on this ship. Like I can feel you."

"That sounds silly."

"It's not silly!" Luke said. "It's just as silly as your stupid nightmares!"

"My nightmares aren't stupid!"

"Neither are my feelings!" The tension was high between the twins. Neither of them spoke for a while. Both too mad and too proud, but it was Luke who finally spoke. "Maybe you could try? To feel your parents? Like I feel my aunt?"

Leia gave her brother a long look. Finally she nodded. Luke walked her through it. He told her to close her eyes and think really hard about her parents. She felt like she had done this before plenty of times. She closed her eyes and thought about Alderaan and her parents, but she had never felt anything. But she followed Luke's words. She scrunched up her eyes and thought really hard about mama and papa. Through the blackness she slowly became aware of something. A familiar warmth.

Mama! Papa! Leia realized. It was just as Luke had said. She could feel them. They were close. Here on this ship. She just somehow knew that! She opened her eyes.

"I felt them! Luke! I felt them! They're on this ship too! I just know it!"

Luke beamed at his sister, excited with her success. "I knew you could do it!"

"I can go to them! I can be with my real family!"

Luke's face fell immediately and Leia felt guilty. She did like Luke. She didn't have any siblings back on Alderaan. She would be sad to leave Luke behind. Luke took a deep breath and then looked over at his sister with sad smile.

"Ok," Luke said. "Let's get you to your real family."

"Luke . . ."

"Which direction were they?" Luke said ignoring her. Leia paused and simply pointed down and to her left. "Hmm," Luke said. "You know that's the same direction my aunt and uncle are."

"Do you think they're together?"

"They might be!" Luke said excited.

"How do we get there?"

"We can take the big turbolift! Father took me on it when he took me flying!"

"But how do we get to the turbolift?"

"You go through the door by the kitchen!" But then Luke got quiet as he looked away. "But then there are those scary red guys."

"Scary red guys?"

Luke explained to Leia what he had seen on his way back from the hangar. It was a shame Luke had fallen asleep on the way there, but at least one of them had been beyond the rooms they lived in. Yet it sounded easy enough. All they had to do was go through the two doors out by the kitchen. Go down the hallway. Somehow get past the scary red guys, and get on the big turbolift. That would take them down to where Leia's parents were. They made their plans.

That night Leia laid awake. She and Luke had pretended to fall asleep after Mother put them to bed. Luckily Father was gone. Leia waited until she heard the soft sounds of the cleaning droids. She had learned they came late night due to waking up so many times due to her nightmares. She got her brother and the two slipped on some shoes and carefully walked out of their room.

Two human shaped droids were cleaning the kitchen. A large hovercart sat next to the kitchen door. Leia looked at the cart and back at Luke and nodded. The two without saying a word snuck up to the cart. Leia slid open a door at the bottom open. Inside were folded towels. Leia wiggled her way in and Luke followed. Then Luke slowly shut the door.

When they heard the droids come closer and the cart start to move, Leia just squeezed her eyes shut and tried to be as still as possible. Please don't find us. Please don't find us, Leia repeated to herself. The cart seemed to move then stop. Then move. Then stop. Then it moved for a long time. Leia wondered how far away they were. She closed her eyes and concentrated on her parents. She was getting closer. Her heart pounded in her chest. She was going to be with them again!

"Leia," Luke whispered. "We're in the big turbolift."

She nodded and he slid the door open in the cart. The two cleaning droids stood facing the lift doors. Their backs were to the cart. Luke as quietly as he could crawled out of the cart. Then Leia did the same thing. The droids never turned around. Then they both crept behind the cart.

The lift stopped, the two droids left with the cart following behind them. The twins stayed. The doors closed silently. The two shared a victorious smile. They had done it! Luke closed his eyes. Leia knew he was trying to feel where his aunt was.

"They're down lower," Luke said. Leia nodded. Her parents were down lower too. Leia walked over to the large panel of the lift. She clicked a button she could reach and the lift started down again. It took them a few tries to actually get to the right floor. Leia had to fight back her excitement. She was so close to her mama and papa! She could go home soon!

They slowly made their way through a few hallways. There were stormtroopers walking around here. Each time they came close, Luke and Leia would duck into another hallway or hide behind a small wall. Please don't see us, Leia would repeat in her head. Surprisingly the troopers never did. They didn't seem to look down.

They finally came to a set of big double doors. This was it. They were so close. Leia was gripping her brother's hand so tight. They two hesitantly walked up to the doors. They slid open.

"What is that?"

Both twins' heads snapped up. A large desk sat inside the two big doors. A man in a gray uniform had his hands on the desk as he leaned over to take a good look at the children.

"Children, sir?"

Two white stormtrooper stood on either side of the desk.

"Who are you? How did you get here?"

No, Leia thought. They were so close. She could feel it. One of the stormtroopers started to approach the children cautiously. Without another word Leia ran pulling Luke with her. She was so close! She could hear the troopers chasing them. But she getting closer. She was almost there. Then finally she felt it. The door her father was behind. She ran up to it and pounded her little fist on the door panel, but nothing happened. She jumped at it again and again.

"Papa!" she shouted. "Papa!"

"Leia!" Luke shouted.

She turned just in time to see the stormtrooper lean over and grab her. She screamed and kicked. The trooper's grip loosened a few times, but he always seem to regrab Leia. Leia fought. She pushed and pulled and kicked and hit.

"Throw her in here," one trooper said. Then Leia was thrown into a small dark room with Luke. The man in the gray uniform walked in with the troopers and the door shut.

"Now," the man in the uniform said. "Who are you?"

"I'm Leia Organa," Leia said standing straight and tall. "Princess of Alderaan. I demand you take me to my father. He's right over there." She pointed through the wall to where she knew her father was.

"Organa?" the uniform asked. He glanced over at the two troopers. "And you boy?" The uniform man asked Luke, but Luke didn't answer. "How did you two get on a star destroyer?" Neither child spoke up. "Alright then," the uniform said. "You two just stay here."

Then they all left leaving Luke and Leia alone in the small room. It was not a comfortable room. The floors were made of metal grates. A long bench ran across the back of the room. Luke climbed up and sat on it. Leia wasn't ready to just sit down. She ran to the door. There were no door panels. She kicked the door. Pounded on the door. She screamed and then called out for her mama and papa. Surely they would hear her. They were so close!

But the door didn't open. Tears filled Leia's eyes. It wasn't fair! She was so close! She stomped over to the bench and climbed up next to Luke.

"I'm sorry Leia," Luke said sadly. "My aunt and uncle are here too. They're in this hallwa-" Luke suddenly stopped talking and snapped his head to the right.

"Luke?" But then Leia felt it as well. The room was getting colder. It felt like there was something in the room with them. It started from the floor and then seem to slowly wrap around them until it completely cocooned them. It was oppressive and possessive.

"Fa-father," Luke said. "He's coming here. He's angry"

Luke was wide eyed. Leia frowned. She wondered how Luke knew that, but then she realized Luke must have felt him. She didn't think she could feel out that man. She closed her eyes and thought of the Emperor. She found him far quicker than she had her parents. The Emperor, her birth father, was much different in feeling as well. He was big and bright and angry. Very angry. And he was getting closer. Very close.

She scooted closer to Luke to where they were touching. Luke wrapped his arm around her and Leia did the same. The two hugged each other. That's how they were when the door slid open and their father walked in. He was dressed like the first time Leia had seen him. He was wearing all black with a black cloak. A metal stick was clipped to his belt. Leia realized he really looked like the Emperor. The one she had seen in the holonews back on Alderaan. He looked nothing like the man she had gotten used to seeing in their rooms with their mother.

The most striking difference was his eyes. His eyes weren't blue. His eyes were yellow. A deep burning yellow.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21: The Father

Padmé paced the sitting area. She had awoken after a few hours of sleep. She had yet to be woken up due to one of Leia's nightmares. Had the girl simply not had one? Perhaps she would manage to get through a night without one. Padmé went to check on the twins, but found both of their beds empty.

There was no message like when Vader had taken Luke to go see the fighter ships. Surely Vader would have left another message if he was taking the children. She looked through all the rooms, including her closet, and there was no sign of the children. She was starting to worry. She had no way of contacting Vader. So she ended up pacing in the sitting area.

She wasn't sure how long she had been at it, when the door by the kitchen slid open. Darth Vader marched into the room with a child under each arm. Both children were held by the waist. Luke's eyes were wide. He was tense and unmoving. Leia was quite different. She squirmed and wiggled. She kicked and punched. She screamed.

Vader was dressed as the Emperor with cloak and lightsaber. A cold chill ran down Padmé's spine as she saw his yellow eyes briefly meet her's. She swore she could feel a wave of angry heat run through her. He didn't say a word as he marched to the twins' room. Padmé followed right behind him.

Vader first walked over to Leia's bed where he dropped her. At once Leia scrambled up. Vader had moved on to drop Luke on his bed. Leia had started to charge off her bed, but Vader brought a hand and the girl was pushed over as if by an invisible hand. Leia let out a frustrated scream. Then she was right back at it, moving to get off the bed. Again Vader used the Force to push her back onto the bed.

"You will stay on your bed," Vader growled pointing a finger a Leia.

"No!" Leia shouted. "I want my papa and mama! I want to be with them! Take me back!"

Vader just stood there for a moment, but then he turned sharply and headed for the door. Padmé was going to wait for him to leave to comfort the children, yet Vader grabbed her tightly by the arm and dragged her out of the room. He pressed some buttons on the door panel. The door slid shut, and she could hear the soft click of the door locking.

Then Vader stalked off down the hall. Padmé followed after him. He went past his office until he reached the door at the end of the hallway. It slid open for him. It was another sitting room with a small kitchen. It appeared to be a mirror layout of her sitting room. Except this one had more character. Comfortable black leather couches and chairs filled the sitting area. There were was abstract art on the wall. There was some decorative glass art on a table next to the sofas.

Padmé realized this must be his rooms. Vader's personal rooms. Her eyes went to the door across the room opposite of the hallway door. She assumed that his bedroom. Her attention snapped from the door as she saw the decorative glass sculpture thrown from the table into the wall by the Force. Then the table itself was thrown into the air and smashed into the wall.

Vader sat down on the edge of one of the sofas. He braced his elbows on his knees and brought his head into his hands. He hunched over. Padmé couldn't stop the small pang that formed in her heart at seeing such sight. She slowly walked over to him then stopped. He didn't move. Didn't say a word. She slowly brought her hands up to his head. She laced her fingers into his hair and then started to gently stroke his head.

"What happened?" she asked in a whisper.

Vader was quite for a while, but eventually he spoke up. "They . . . the children . . . left," Vader said softly. His head was still in his hands. Padmé knew from the way Vader said left, what he meant to say was escaped. "They went to the detention block to find the Organas and Lars."

Now it was her turn to be quiet. A million questions ran through her head. "What? How?" was the only two words she managed to get out.

"They are truly my children, Padmé," he said. "Both already strong in the Force."

"They used the Force to get to the detention block? How? I didn't know . . . they were trained to use it."

"They are not trained. They merely did what felt natural. The Force heard and answered their call," Vader explained.

She still didn't understand. How had they even gotten out of these rooms? How had no one spotted two children on a star destroyer? How did they know the Organas and Lars were kept on board? Padmé was having a hard time just chucking everything up to the Force.

"Padmé," he said softly. "I just . . ." He looked up at her. His eyes were a mix of blue and gold. "I just want us to be a family," he said softly and painfully. "And I just . . . I just can't make it right!" His eyes flashed gold.

She didn't step away. She continued stroking his hair. He leaned his head against her stomach. His arms wrapped around her legs. They stayed like that for a few minutes before he pulled his head away and looked up at her. His eyes were still a mix of blue and gold.

"Will you stay with me tonight?" he asked. His eyes were pleading her.

"Yes," she said softly without much hesitation.

There was an immediate look of relief on his face with her answer. He needed this she thought. He needed her and her acceptance right now. She knew the one who had asked her had been Anakin. Vader didn't ask. He demanded. Threatened. Vader got off the couch and led her into the bedroom. A similar bedroom like hers. At the foot of the bed he wrapped her in a warm embrace and kissed her. Then for the first time in five years, Padmé made love to her husband Anakin Skywalker.


When Padmé awoke, he was gone. The sheets were cooling, which said he had left some time ago. She sighed before she rolled out of the bed. She got dressed and made her way back to the hallway. She found the twins' door unlocked and entered. Both twins were curled up on Leia's bed. Luke was under the covers, while Leia was sprawled out on top. Her cheeks were red and puffy from crying.

Not wanting to leave the children, she crawled into Luke's small empty bed. She would just wait until they woke up, but quickly fell asleep herself. She woke up with both twins curled up beside her. The bed was too small to hold all three, but Luke had somehow fallen asleep on top of his mother. There was a warm love growing inside Padmé at the thought of her little children sleeping with their mother. They still wanted to be with her after the two had tried to escape.

She understood her husband's frustrations. Deep down she desperately wanted them to be a family too. Her image of family probably didn't match Vader's, but after being reunited with her children she realized she wanted them. She wanted them more than anything, because she loved them more anything. She had been a fool to give them up.

Yet as lovely as this moment was, she was uncomfortable. Her side hurt and her arm was cramping. The moment she started to shift her weight, both twins started to stir. They both looked at her with their big round eyes. Leia's eyes were bloodshot. Luke cuddle against his mother. She let them be for a small moment before she got them all out of bed and ushered them into the kitchen. The kitchen on her side. The twins were silent as they ate breakfast. Luke kept shooting his sister worried glances.

"I was told what happened last night," Padmé said breaking the silence. "You went to the Organas and the Lars."

Luke flinched and looked guilty. He glanced down at his plate. Leia however had a fire in her eyes. She slammed her little fist against the table. "Take me back!" she demanded. "I know my mama and papa are in this ship! They were in that hallway! Take me back, please!"

There was a flash of pain in Padmé's heart at hearing her daughter's pleas. She hoped it didn't show on her face. "I can't," Padmé said softly.

"Yes you can!" Leia shouted. "You just don't want to! You want to be my new mother! But you're not! You're not my mama! I want my real mama! Let me go back to her!"

The pain only got worse in Padmé's heart. "Leia," Padmé said evenly. "I can't leave these rooms. I . . . I am a prisoner here. Just like you are." Both children just stared wide eyed at their mother. "Those doors," Padmé gestured towards the one kitchen, "are locked even to me. Only your father can go in and out of them. How you two did it last night, I do not know. I myself have tried several times."

"We snuck on the cart with the cleaning droids," Luke said in a small voice. Padmé couldn't help but smile at the cleverness of her children. They were indeed Skywalker children.

"What do you mean you're a prisoner here?" Leia asked.

"Don't you want to be here?" Luke asked. "With Father? Aren't you two married? Don't you love each other?"

"I think it's time you both heard the story about me and your father," Padmé said as she stood from the table. The twins followed her to the sitting room. They all settled on the couch. A twin sat on each side of her. "When I was young, I became the queen of a planet called Naboo," Padmé started out.

She told her children the story of how she met Anakin Skywalker, who became a Jedi knight. She of course kept the story simple and left out a lot of details. But she covered the basics. She told them how their parents fell in love and married in secret. She told them briefly about the Clone Wars, which kept the parents apart.

Then she told them how Anakin joined Palpatine, who became Emperor. How she hid from Anakin who had become Vader with her two little babies. She explained that she wanted to make the galaxy a better place for her children, so she gave her children to the Organas and the Lars so they could be safe. She tried to make the galaxy better, but in the end she was captured by Vader and locked away in these rooms.

Though the two children had asked a hundred questions during the story, once it was done they all fell silent. Each one lost in their own thoughts.

"Do you still love Father?" Luke asked.

"I love Anakin," Padmé answered truthfully. "That is the man I married. Not Vader."

"So there are two people inside Father?" Luke asked.

Padmé didn't even know what to say. She felt it was a much more complicated answer than that, but didn't she herself classify Anakin and Vader as two different individuals? She didn't get a chance to respond as the door by the kitchen opened and Darth Vader walked in. He was again dressed as the emperor. He wore his cloak and lightsaber, and his eyes were yellow. It was something that did not go unnoticed by the twins as they both scooted closer to their mother.

He walked to the otherside of the low table that sat in front of the couch. His yellow eyes examined each member of the family on the sofa. A cruel smile crawled across his lips. A shiver ran down Padmé's spine. She didn't like this. This reminded her too much of how Vader was like before the children arrived. What had happened to the man she saw last night? The man struggling and fighting for his family?

"Hello, my family," Vader said. "I have something to show you."

Padmé's first thought was to please let it not be a body part. To her relief Vader pulled out a small holoprojector. He placed it on the table. Still she didn't like where this was going. His eyes were still gold.

"You don't have to do this," Padmé said softly pleading to Vader to stop whatever he was about to do.

Vader's gold eyes bore into her. "I believe I do," Vader responded harshly. "I've been a fool and honestly far too patient." He gently waved his hand the holoprojector came on. The first holo that came up was of a row of bodies, laying still on the ground. Each with a blaster shot to the head.

"This children," Vader said darkly, "is what happens when you leave these roms without me. These are the men I had killed. The men who were working in the detention block. The men who were answered their call. I simply could not allow them to live after knowing about you."

Padmé could feel the twins' fear. They both wrapped their arms around their mother's waist. Padmé wrapped her arms around their shoulders.

"Please," Padmé said softly. "Please stop."

"No, I will not," Vader barked. "They need to know what happens when they disobey me. If they step outside of these rooms again, then they will do it knowing full well I will personally kill anyone who sees them."

"Stop this," Padmé said. "You're scaring them!"

"Good," Vader growled. He waved his hand and the scene changed.

"Papa!" Leia cried seeing the image of Bail Organa. He sat in a chair. His hands obviously bound behind his back. He looked worse for wear. His beard was scruffy and hair was messy. Large bags were under his eyes. His face looked a bit shallow.

"State your name," a voice said off camera.

"Bail Organa," Bail replied weakly.

Padmé looked pass the projection to Vader. She opened her mouth to say something, but suddenly found she couldn't speak. She tried again, but still she could not speak. Vader's sulfuric yellow eyes were on her. She realized he was somehow using the Force to prevent her from talking.

She decided that was fine with her. She would just get up and turn the projector off. Throw it across the room if she had to. But yet she also found she couldn't move. A cold fear washed over her. She glared at him. Don't do this, she shouted at him. Please don't do this. Yet it didn't stop.

"You are the senator of Alderaan?" the interrogator asked. Bail said yes. "You are married to Queen Breha Organa of Alderaan?" Again Bail said yes. "What is the name of your daughter?"

Bail flinched and grit his teeth. It looked like he wouldn't answer, but then a very slight spasm ran through him. He was being tortured. Discreetly and where the camera couldn't see. "My daughter is named Leia Organa."

"Is she your biological daughter?"

"No-no."

"You adopted her?"

"Yes."

"How did you go about adopting her?"

"It doesn't matter," Bail said angrily. "Leia is my daughter. I love her-" His words were cut short by another stronger spasm hitting him.

"Papa . . ." Leia cried. Padmé couldn't even turn her head to look at the girl, but she could feel the vibrations in the small child. Leia was crying.

"How did you go about adopting her?" the interrogator asked again.

"We went to the Alderaan courts-" Bail started but was stopped by another spasm.

"Don't lie," the interrogator said in a smooth voice.

"I'm not," Bail spat. "We went to the courts. We went through official means."

"Official? Perhaps in the actual adoption, but how had you actually come to have the child?" Bail was quiet. The interrogator continued. "Did you contact an orphanage? A foster service?" Again Bail was silent. "You did none of these things correct?"

"Cor-correct," Bail said.

"So let me ask again, how did you come to have the child?"

"She was given to me," Bail said.

"Elaborate please."

"Her mother could no longer care for her."

A coldness washed through Padmé. That . . . that wasn't true. She cared for her children! She always had! During that first year she had given up everything to take care of the twins. She did nothing else!

"Are you saying the birth mother was not fit to be a mother?" the interrogator pushed. Padmé's breath caught in her throat as she waited to hear Bail's reply.

"She . . . she . . ." Bail looked down. A silence stretched before another spasm shook Bail. "She knew her life was too dangerous for children. She did the honorable thing and gave the child up. She asked me to care for it, and I gladly did so."

"Why was the mother's life too dangerous?" the interrogator continued.

"She decided to join the rebellion," Bail said. Padmé noticed he was more calm now. No longer fighting the questions. "To fight against the Empire. It would be too dangerous to bring children into that."

"Yet it wasn't for you?"

"What . . . I . . ."

"Were you not also part of the rebellion, Organa? Did you not also give them money, supplies and information? How is it that your involvement in the rebellion was any different from the mother's?"

"Because I could provide a safe and secure home. I was still a Senator. I may have been a part of the Rebellion, but I was not on the frontlines nor was I being actively hunted."

A sharp pain stabbed Padmé's heart. Bail wasn't wrong. She knew it. How many times had she herself stood awake over two sleeping babies fearing that stormtroopers would burst in at a moment's notice? Had many times had she jumped at any hissing sound thinking it was a lightsaber? But . . . but that was what drove her to do what she had done. She had wanted a safe home for her children. She had to stop the Empire. But . . .

Her eyes moved pass the hologram and found Vader was staring at her directly. He was clearly watching her reaction to all of this. She gritted her teeth and steeled herself. She turned her attention back to the interrogation.

"Only half of your story matches up with the mother's," the interrogator continued. "She did give you Leia to keep her safe while she joined the rebellion. However that was it. She was not handing over her daughter for you to adopt and claim as your own. You were aware of this?"

Bail looked at the ground. He looked guilty. Leia murmured a soft papa.

"You were aware of this, Organa? You adopted Leia as your daughter knowing full well that was not the mother's wish. You took someone else's child for your own selfish means because you and your wife could not have children."

Bail's head snapped up. "No!" he shouted. He quickly spasmed.

"Do not lie," the interrogator growled.

"I'm not," Bail said between clenched teeth. "I did what was best for . . . Leia. We kept her safe as I promised her mother. But after . . ."

"After . . . ?"

Another spasm. "After Palpatine died and Vader took the throne . . . Vader was just as bad as his predecessor, if not worse. I knew I had to keep Leia safe. Having her under the Organa name would bring her security."

"So you adopted the girl?" the interrogator asked.

"Yes," Bail said.

"For in doing so kept her safe? Being safe meant she wasn't with her birth parents?"

"Correct."

"What was going to happen if the birth mother asked for her child back? She hadn't legally given up her rights to the child. You had essentially kidnapped the girl."

"I did no such thing!" Bail barked.

"I suppose it is a matter of perception. But back to the question: what was going to happen if the birth mother asked for her child back?"

"I had hoped it would never come to that."

An ice cold tendril rose from Padmé's gut. It sliced through her and wrapped itself around her heart and started to squeeze.

"Why is that?"

"I . . . I . . ." Bail looked down as guilt crossed his fact. It was the first time he actually looked guilty. A spasm shook Bail again. Padmé wondered if he was being hit by electricity. Yet Bail kept silent. Another spasm shook him. It appeared stronger than the previous one. He clenched his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut.

"Why is that, Organa?" the interrogator pressed.

"I . . . I made sure Padmé was kept busy. She easily accepted any missions that I threw at her. She was desperate to try and make the galaxy better."

The coldness spread to the rest of her body completely over taking her. Her heart felt empty as it dropped into her stomach.

"He was purposely keeping you away from your daughter," Vader said lowly and darkly. Padmé was startled by the fact his voice was now behind her. He had moved unnoticed to stand behind the couch. He had leaned over so his mouth was close to her ear. "Just so he could have her."

Tears started to slide down her face. The tears felt hot against Padmé's cold insides. This . . . this wasn't how this was suppose to go. Bail was her friend. She had trusted him. She had trusted him . . .

"Yes but what would going to happen if the birth mother asked for her child back? Surely you had thought about it. Possibly made a plan."

"I didn't . . ." Bail started. He looked down at the ground. "I wasn't . . . I couldn't give Leia up. I loved her too much."

"And if the mother fought you?"

Bail was silent. His dirty deeds possibly weighing too much on him. Hot tears dripped into Padmé's lap. The two children were still tucked into her side. She wondered how much they comprehended the conversation. Neither one had spoken. Neither one had moved. Another sharp spasm ran through Bail, yet he only grimaced. Another stretch of silence and another spasm hit Bail. He like out a strangled noise through his clenched teeth.

"And if the mother fought for her daughter?"

"I . . . would . . . I had considered . . ." Another sharp spasm. "I had considered giving Padmé to the Empire."

"I'm sure you wondered," Vader said in a dark but soft voice into her ear, "how I finally captured you. How I not only got you, but also your entire little Rebel crew." She felt Vader's gloved hand slide down her neck and rest on her shoulder. "I guess now you know."

Chapter Text

Chapter 22: The Argument

Air completely left Padmé. She sat frozen. Unmoving. As if a statue. Then it felt like she was breaking. Crumbling into small pieces.

Bail . . . Bail Organa had betrayed Padmé. He had sold her out to Emperor Vader, so Bail could keep Leia as his daughter. This couldn't be true, could it? Bail was Padmé's friend. Her dear friend that she had trusted her daughter with. This was all a lie. A horrible trick of Vader's.

Even worse was the interrogation was not over. The small holoprojector continued to project the form of Bail Organa sitting in a chair with his arms bound behind him. The interrogator had moved on to talk about what Bail's future plans were for Leia, but Padmé had stopped listening. Her mind spun in circles.

Before she could properly think anything through, she jumped up and swung her hand as hard as she could. There was a gratifying sound as the back of Padmé's hand slapped into Vader's cheek. Both twins screamed and jumped at the action. Luke crawled over to Leia, and the two held each other. Both their big eyes were darting between their mother and father.

Vader brought his flesh hand up to his face and gently rubbed the reddening cheek. He straightened up and glared at Padmé. However, he wasn't as mad as she thought he would be.

"You know, angel," Vader said with a slight smile. "You do make the perfect wife to a sith lord. If you were a sith, your eyes would be burning yellow right now." She couldn't argue with that. She was pissed. She marched over to the still playing holoprojector. She picked it up and threw it against the far wall. While it didn't break, the projector did turn off.

"I want off this ship," she said as she turned back around. Her voice was low. That comment wiped the smile off Vader's face.

"No," Vader said.

"Yes," Padmé hissed back. "I do not want to be around you, near you, by you. At all. I want off this ship. Now. With my children."

"No," Vader growled. "You and the children are to stay here." There was an unsaid 'with me' left hanging in the air.

"I. Want. Off. This. Ship," Padmé growled back. "I want away from you. I don't care where. Your stupid palace on Imperial Center. An Imperial outpost. A prison planet for all I care. Throw us in a cell, but it is to be far from you."

"My wife and my children are to be by my side," Vader said as he rounded the couch.

"Your children?" Padmé said aghast. "No. They are no longer your children. Not when you show them murdered guards and staff because they were- what?- merely seen by them. Not when you show a man getting tortured and interrogated. What you just did was cruel. You have scared my children. Scarred them. And turned them away from you."

"What I did was show them the truth," Vader hissed. "If my daughter wants to cling and cry for Bail, then she needs to know exactly what kind of man he is. A man who stole her from her rightful parents."

"You stole her from Bail!" Padmé shouted back.

"I took back what was mine!" Vader said as he took a step closer to Padmé. "What should have always been mine!"

"People are not possessions. We are not items that belong to you. You of all people should know that, Anakin," she barked back. There was a quiet tense moment as Vader and Padmé, husband and wife, glared at each other.

"Why are you fighting me, Padmé?" Vader finally asked. "I'm trying to fix this! I'm trying to bring this family together!"

"This isn't how you do it!" she shouted at him. "You bring family together with love! Not fear!"

"So we should be a family made of lies again? Of false hope?" Vader shouted. " Should we go back to lying about being married? Bail lying he's Leia's father? Obi-Wan lying he'll raise Luke?"

Padmé didn't answer as she didn't completely disagree with this notion. This family had started off being built on lies from Padmé and Anakin's secret marriage. It seemed like lies followed them wherever they went.

"What do you mean about Obi-Wan?" she asked as she moved the conversation away from the part she actually agreed on.

"You should have watched the full interrogation, my love. Eventually Bail shares what Obi-Wan had planned for Luke."

A fresh wave of coldness washed through Padmé. Her eyes darted to her son who still sat on the couch. Leia and Luke were huddled together, tightly grabbing each other. Their eyes were wide with fear. Luke's lip was trembling. Leia's face was stained with tears.

"You put your trust in the wrong people, Padmé," Vader said. "Obi-Wan planned on training Luke to use the Force, so the boy could become a weapon. A weapon Obi-Wan and that Force-forsaken Yoda wanted to use to kill me. They were going to train Luke to kill his father without even knowing who his father was."

"You're . . . you're lying . . ." Padmé said softly. Her words had lost their edge.

"You gave your children away to keep them safe, while you tried to make a better galaxy for them. A noble cause. Yet the people you entrusted your children to never wanted to let you have those children again," Vader said as again he took a step closer to Padmé. "How does it feel? To have your own children kept from you? To have them lied to about their parent that was willing to give up everything for them?" Again he stepped closer. He was only about two steps away. "Heartbreaking isn't it?" he said in a low voice.

He held out his hand and the holoprojector floated into his hand. He held it out to her, but she didn't take it. Her mind was spinning. Inside it felt like she was broken. Sharp shards of her heart was tearing into her insides. How could everything have gone so wrong? How could Bail purposely take Leia and then keep Padmé away from her? Did Obi-Wan really plan on using Luke as a weapon to kill Vader? What was the truth in all of this?

"I have never lied to you," Vader said softly as once again he took another step closer. His free hand rested softly on her shoulder. She took a step away and Vader let his hand fall off her shoulder. She looked into his yellow eyes. She shook her head at him. Tears were starting to sting her eyes.

"I need to be away from you," Padmé whispered. "I can't be here anymore. I can't trust you anymore. I can't trust anyone."

She walked over to the couch and grabbed each child by their arm. She pulled them off the sofa. They both gave a soft whimper, but otherwise gave up no fight. She led them both into her bedroom and shut the door behind her. Then all three of them climbed into the large bed together. She tightly held both children to her. Both children tightly clung on to her as well.

Padmé didn't even know where to begin. Her own mind was a mess. She could barely sort out her own thoughts, so how could she make it better for the twins. Yet they hadn't said a thing. Both were quiet. Both contempt to tightly curl up to their mother. The three just stayed like that for a long time until all three of them fell asleep.

Padmé's dreams were a mix. They flicked from one thing to the next. She was once again in the dark maze of hallways. Luke and Leia following behind her with glowing yellow eyes and holding a small red lightsaber.

Then she was back in the apartment she had lived in when she still had Luke and Leia as babies. Bail walked into the room and took Leia from her crib. Padmé tried to call out to Bail. But found she had no voice. Found she could not move. Bail turned around and looked at Padmé sadly.

The dream shifted again and she was running through the halls of a ship. Most likely a star destroyer. She was carrying a child. Clutching the child tightly. Her heart was pounding and she kept looking over her shoulder.

The dream flicked again. Luke was hunched over on all fours. One hand grabbed at his stomach. Blood started pouring from his mouth. He looked up. Fear was etched across his face. "Mother . . ." he said. "How could you do this?"

Again the dream changed. The place was filled with smoke. Padmé was coughing. As the smoke cleared she saw Luke standing over a fallen body. A blue lightsaber in his hand. Luke looked up at his mother. His eyes held a craze look in it. "I did it," Luke said. "I killed the Emperor. We're free, Mother. We're free." Padmé noticed the corpse was Vader.

The dream flicked again. There was a crying baby in the distance. Its wail were that of danger. Padmé needed to reach this child. It was her child, she was so sure of it. She ran through an indistinguishable landscape. She found herself running along a white wall. When she turned the corner, the wailing suddenly and sharply cut off. A man stood with his back to her. It was not Vader. The man held a knife that was dripping in blood. Padmé took a step forward and the man turned around. She gasped a name, but in the dream state she couldn't make it out.

"Let me see them!" she cried. The dream had changed again. She was in a cell. She banged against the orange energy field. On the other side stood Vader. He wore all black, but his clothes were rich and regal.

"No," Vader said darkly. "I've finally managed to put this family back together. My children finally love me. I won't have you ruining it again."

"No! Please!" she cried. But Vader turned away walking down the hallway.

She awoke with a start. Her heart was pounding in her chest. She could feel a thin layer of sweat on her skin. She put her hand on her chest. She could feel her heart starting to calm down. She closed her eyes and focused on her breathing. Once a bit calmer, she reopened her eyes.

The ceiling above her was an off-white. Odd, Padmé thought. It seemed to be made of stone. It appeared to be iridescent with very light rainbows swirling amongst the stone. It made her think of opals. She sat up and fully realized this was not the star destroyer.

The room circular with a domed ceiling. She was in a large round bed against one of the walls. The walls were made from the same stone the ceiling was made of. Everything in the room was white. The white fur blanket on her bed along with the bedsheets and pillows. The dresser and nightstands were white. The lamps on the walls were white. Across from the bed was a small sitting area with white sofas. The metal detailing everything was also white. Large floor-to-ceiling windows stretched part of the curved wall to her right. Light wispy white curtains hung over the windows.

Padmé slowly got out of bed. She noticed she was wearing a white nightgown. She didn't think this was the same nightgown she had been wearing earlier. She walked over to the windows and pulled back the curtain. A white landscape met her view. There were no trees or plants. Just white stone and clear crystals that jutted up in sharp towers. Even the sky was white as it was completely covered in dull white clouds.

Padmé let the curtain fall. She glanced around the room again. There was an open door on the other side of the bed. It clearly led to a refresher. There was another open door by the sitting area. She went out that door into a quiet hallway. She followed into another room.

It was bigger than the bedroom she had woken up in, but like the bedroom it was also circular with a domed ceiling. It appeared to be a living room. Large white plush sofas and chairs were arranged together. There was a small white table with chairs. Like her room there were large floor-to-ceiling windows against the right wall.

In front of them stood Vader. He was looking out the window. His hands were clasped behind his back. He stood out painfully from everything else in his all black attire. She slowly approached him, but he never moved. He stood straight and still. She stepped up to the windows. A silence hung between the two.

"You said you wanted off the ship," Vader said quietly.

She was at a lost of words. She hadn't expected him to listen. Hadn't expected him to follow her wishes. She looked out at the white world.

"Where is this?" she asked. Her voice just as soft and quiet.

"Some place safe," he replied. "That's all I can tell you."

She looked over at him. He was looking at her. His eyes were a bright blue. He had a slight frown on his face. Padmé turned to face him completely.

"Ana . . . Anakin?" she asked.

He sharply turned away from her. His gaze going back to the window. She quickly stepped over to him. She brought a hand up to his far cheek. Her hand gently pushed his face so it faced hers once again. This time . . . there was no denying it. This was Anakin. Anakin Skywalker. The man she had fallen in love with. Padmé had seen Vader with blue eyes, but these eyes were so different. They were full of pain and regret and love. Anakin brought up his hand and gently placed it on top of Padmé's hand on his cheek.

"I . . . " Padmé started. "I always knew you were in there. I never gave up hope."

"Padmé . . ." Anakin said. His words were pained. "Please . . ."

"No," she said sharply. "You have to win this. You have to come back to me. To us. Our children. It was you last night when you were hunched over on the couch. It was you I made love to. But then Vader came back . . . He . . ."

Padmé recalled the holorecording. The horrible things that had been shown and said. The yellow eyes of Vader boring into her. The trembling forms of her children. Anakin brought her hand off his cheek, but he still held her hand.

"Padmé . . ." he said again. "There is no fight to win."

"Yes! Yes there is!" she said. "I won't give up on you!"

He took a deep breath. "Padmé, I am Vader. Vader is Anakin. We are not two separate people."

"Then what is this?" she asked desperately. "Who is this I'm talking to? It's not the same person who was in the sitting room showing that recording of Bail. Do not tell me you are the same person." He flinched slightly. His eyes seemed to flash gold. "See?" Padmé continued. "Even now you're fighting. Please don't give up. Please, Anakin. I need you."

He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. Padmé squeezed his hand. She knew he could do this. Anakin Skywalker was stronger than this. Was stronger than Darth Vader.

"It was you who brought me here?" she asked softly. "Not Vader, but you."

He opened his eyes and looked at her sadly. Then he slowly nodded his head. "I'll be leaving shortly," he said in a small voice. "So you won't have to be around me any more. At least for a while. I'm . . . I'm sorry Padmé. For all the pain I've put you through. For all the pain I've put our children through. This . . . this isn't what I wanted for you or them."

"Why . . ." she asked. Her voice was unsteady. Her emotions were bubbling up in her. There were so many different why's she could ask him. In the end she picked the one question she wanted to know the most. The one question that perhaps would answer all the others. "Why did you turn to the dark side?"

"To save you," he answered softly. It was the same reason he had given as Vader when they had lunch in the detention block right before he killed her crew.

"I didn't need to be saved," Padmé said softly. "You were all I needed. You could have saved me. Protected me. You. Anakin Skywalker. Not Vader."

His face was pained. "I see . . ." his voice was still soft. Almost a whisper. "Obi-Wan never told you."

Her heart pumped a wave a cold through her. "Told me what?"

"Five years ago, after you gave birth. I did save you. It was the only way, Padmé." His voice had been steadily growing louder. "You were dying . . ."

Padmé realized he was talking about what had happened after she had given birth, when she had been in a coma for two months. She freed the hand that was in his grasp. She placed both hands on his face. "Tell me," she pleaded. "Tell me what happened."

Chapter Text

Chapter 23: The Sith

The was sun was setting amongst the many skyscrapers of Coruscant now the seat of the Imperial Throne. The Empire had finally risen from the ashes of the Republic two months ago. Peace was finally coming to the galaxy. Yet Darth Vader had a war raging inside of him. He paced the veranda of Padmé's apartment. He wore a black tunic and robes, still similar to that of a Jedi. Yet he was no longer a Jedi, but a Sith.

He still recalled the price he paid for proving his worth and loyalty to the dark side. What was it all for? He had casted away everything in his life for Padmé. So she and their child could live, and yet . . . she was gone. Two months now. Surely by now she had given birth. Had Vader's visions come to past? Had she died in childbirth as he had forseen? What had happened to his wife and their child?

These questions were consuming Vader. His emotions violently swung from one to the next. One minute he was stricken by grief. The next by uncontrollable anger. Why had she left? Had she left him? Betrayed him? After all he had done for her?

Sidious, the man Vader onced called Palpatine, claimed Padmé had run off with Obi-Wan. The two were having a secret affair behind Vader's back. Jealousy and possessiveness clawed at Vader. He had watched the security holos. He saw Padmé board her skiff. He saw Obi-Wan sneak aboard. Surely if the two were together, they would have boarded together. Why did Obi-Wan sneak aboard if he was invited?

Obi-Wan hadn't been invited, Vader was sure. Obi-Wan had taken Padmé. Taken her and her child, Vader's child. The betrayal inside Vader ran deep. Already he placed a significant bounty on Obi-Wan's head. Currently the highest in the galaxy. It was only a matter of time before Vader found either Obi-Wan or Padmé.

Not that Vader was idly sitting by. He had searched for his wife. He had gone to Naboo. Her family had not seen her in months. Didn't even know she pregnant. Every where Vader looked, he couldn't find a trace of his missing wife. So he often came here, to her apartment. Each time he hoped she would be there waiting for him with a small bundle. Each time the cold emptiness only fueled Vader's grief and anger.

Padmé's once beautiful apartment was trashed. Torn apart by violent shock waves of the Force that erupted from Vader. The furniture had been blown into the walls. Cracks ripped at the floors, walls, ceilings, and windows. The place was far from the one tranquil home of a young couple. It was no place for a new family with a baby.

A beeping noise came from a pocket. Vader pulled out his commlink. It was his old Jedi one. He had yet to throw it away as it would be the only com that Padmé would know to call him on. Vader saw Padmé's frequency number displayed on the com. He clicked the com on. It was a voice-only call.

"Padmé?" Vader desperately called out. His whole body was tense while he waited anxiously for an answer. The seconds dragged on. "Padmé?" he called again. His voice more desperate. Why wouldn't she answer him?

"This isn't Padmé," came a very familiar voice.

"Obi-Wan," Vader growled. "Where is she? Where is Padmé? Where is my wife?"

Again another silence stretched. Vader's anger only grew. So Padmé was with Obi-Wan. Why? Was she with him willingly? Unwillingly? "Anakin . . ." Obi-Wan said sadly. Vader clenched his fist of his free hand at hearing that name. "Padmé is . . . dying . . ."

Instantly cold rushed through him. He felt like he was being dragged down from the inside. "What . . .?" was all he managed to gasp out.

"When she went into labor . . . something went wrong. She . . . she hasn't recovered . . ."

Images of Vader's dreams flashed before his eyes. He saw Padmé on the birthing table in pain calling out his name or Obi-Wan's. No, thought to himself. No! He had given up everything for Padmé. Everything so that she could live.

"Anakin I can't . . . I've tried. The doctors have tried . . . Anakin. I've kept her alive for two months. But I can't do it anymore."

"Where is she?" Vader asked. He had to get to her. He had to save her. Only he could do it.

"You must come alone," Obi-Wan said.

Vader hesitated only a minute. "Very well," he said through clenched teeth. Vader knew it could be a trap. He couldn't trust Obi-Wan. He couldn't trust any Jedi any more.

"I will jump to hyperspace if you aren't alone," Obi-Wan warned. "I'm sending you some coordinates. Meet me there in twelve hours."

"That's a short amount of time," Vader growled.

"That's the amount of time Padmé has," Obi-Wan said softly.

Twelve hours was indeed cutting it short. The meetup was in some empty space out in the outer rim. It wasn't near even in a system. Vader assumed that was the point. When Vader's ship exited hyperspace after eight hours of travel, he first saw nothing but the blackness of space. He turned the ship around and was surprised to find a lone Venator-class Star Destroyer. It still bore the red coloring and marks of the Galactic Republic. Vader had come alone, but he had ordered a battlecruiser to come to his location in six hours if he didn't report to them.

Vader reached out into the Force and found only one life force signature. It was bright in the Force, and Vader instantly recognized it as Obi-Wan. He reached out to see if he could feel Padmé, but came up empty. Obi-Wan could be shielding her. Vader had no choice but to pilot his ship towards the cruiser. The large top-side hangar doors were open, allowing Vader to pilot his ship into the hangar.

He at once set out for the med bay of the ship. He noted as he left the hangar, that there was only one other ship there. Most likely Obi-Wan's. It looked like this ship at one point had been abandoned out here in empty space. There were a hundred different reasons to abandon ship, but Vader had a hard time believing it would simply be left out here. A whole working ship was a complete waste. But unless someone knew where to look for it, it was very possible it had simply been forgotten in the bustle of the war.

Vader turned the corner that would lead him to the med bay. He snarled as he was met with the sight of his former master. Obi-Wan Kenobi was unchanged. He still wore his Jedi tunic and robes. His brown outer robe was pulled around him. His arms tucked into the fabric. The two stood staring at each other. Vader's anger pooled around him. Obi-Wan just looked on sadly, before he turned and disappeared into the med bay.

Vader only paused a minute before he stalked after the Jedi. Vader was mentally preparing himself. He had come here to get his wife and bring her back home. Where she belonged. Vader would also need to find out what had happened to his child. Obi-Wan had mentioned Padmé had gone into labor. Yet everything went out of his mind the moment he saw Padmé laying on the cold medical table.

Her skin was pale. Too pale. It had an unhealthy tint to it. Pale blue and gray in some parts. Parts of the skin was transparent and he could see her veins in places. Her skin had sunken in. Her eyes had deep bags under it. It barely looked like she was breathing. Vader reached out in the Force and could barely feel her life force. It was but a mere whisper flickering between life and death. Obi-Wan hadn't lied. Padmé was dying.

"Pad-Padmé," Vader croaked out as he approached the table. His eyes lingered to the flat stomach. The baby was gone. "The baby?" Vader asked. His voice was small. Obi-Wan was silent. Vader snapped his head up at him. "The baby?" Vader growled this time. "What happened?"

"Survived," Obi-Wan said. "Alive. Healthy. Safe." And away from you.

Despite Obi-Wan not telling Vader any more about his child, Vader let out a small sigh of relief knowing that the child lived. Once Padmé was safe and secure, then Vader could deal with securing his child as well. Vader looked down at Padmé. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and fully submerged himself into the Force. He quickly found his anger and rage. He anger at the Jedi. At Obi-Wan, especially Obi-Wan for taking Padmé and his child.

The dark side swirled and lashed out, but Vader reached out and tightly grasped it. He demanded it to listen to him. To follow his orders. The Force fought back a little, but Vader's rage only tightened. Eventually the Force listened allowing Vader to bring his focus to Padmé's body. He carefully examined the failing body.

The organs were in various states of failure, but it all seemed to link back to the heart. Padmé's heart was too large. During pregnancy, the mother's heart was flooded with extra blood to nourish both mother and child. Perhaps it had been too much. Padmé's heart had become enlarged and weakened, most likely during childbirth. Now the heart was failing, or had been failing for two months. Vader could feel Obi-Wan's Force signature trying to help the dying heart. Vader ripped Obi-Wan's work away.

At once the heart started to beat erratically. Vader reached out to it. Felt the midichlorians inside of Padmé, inside of her heart. Vader willed them to heal the heart. To bring it back to its right size. But the work was slow. The midichlorians fought against Vader. It was time to die, the Force seemed to say.

No, Vader thought. He would not lose her. A small part of Vader wondered why Obi-Wan had kept Padmé alive. He recalled Yoda's words when he had confronted the Jedi about saving Padmé. Death was a natural thing and should be celebrated. Why would Obi-Wan go against that? But this was not the time or place for Vader to muse on such things.

Still Padmé's body fought to be healed.

"It's because you're too weak."

Vader's head snapped to the side where he heard the voice. It was not the voice of Obi-Wan. Vader was no longer in the med room. Instead he stood in a barren red landscape. In front of him stood himself. A mirror image. The other Vader wore the black tunic and robe. His eyes were gold with a red edge.

"You're still clinging on to the Light Side," the other Vader said. "Still the weak Jedi Anakin Skywalker."

"No," Vader growled.

"Who are you trying to fool, Anakin?" the other Vader said as he walked over. "With those blue eyes of yours?"

Anakin blinked. For some reason he knew this other Vader- no this was Vader- was right. He was Anakin. The other was Vader.

"You want to save her?" Vader asked. A devilish smile grew across his lips.

"Yes," Anakin replied. "I can't live without her."

"Good," Vader said still smiling. "But only I can do that. Not you. Not Anakin, but Vader."

"Then do it!" Anakin shouted at his other half. "Save her!"

"It's not that simple, Anakin," Vader said as he once again stepped closer. "You're still clinging on to the Light Side. You're afraid. Afraid she won't accept you, me, for what we've done. You still cling to the weak Light Side as a way out. A way back, as if you could."

"No," Anakin replied weakly but he knew it was a lie. Vader was speaking the truth. He hadn't completely banished all of the Light Side inside of him.

"Shall we make a bargain?" Vader said with a slight tilt of his head.

"A bargain?"

"I shall save Padmé. Heal her completely, and you . . ." Vader said drawing out the last words.

"And me?"

"Will be destroyed," Vader said. His smile grew bigger and once again he took another step closer. The two were but a step apart now. Anakin said nothing. "This is the only way, Anakin, to save Padmé." Again Anakin didn't answer. "You are weak!" Vader hissed. "Only the Dark Side can save her. There cannot be a fraction of the Light Side lingering about. I can save Padmé. will find our child. I will make sure we have everything we've ever wanted and deserved. Everything you failed to do."

Anakin closed his eyes. It shouldn't be a difficult choice. He already knew the answer. But still he hesitated. He would be destroying a part of himself. The old part. The weak part. Yet it was the part that had been a child on Tatooine with his mother. The part that had met Padmé and fallen in love with her.

You couldn't save her, Vader's voice sounded in Anakin's head. Your mother. She died in your arms. Just like Padmé is about to do.

Anakin could feel Vader growing impatient and angry. He could feel Vader's greed and desire. Too long had this side been pushed and smothered down, especially when trying to be the perfect Jedi. Where had that gotten Anakin? Nowhere. The Jedi Council doubted him, questioned him, undermined him almost at every step. No longer would he be humiliated and disgraced. He would be respected and feared.

Yet it would all be at the price of Anakin Skywalker.

Anakin took a deep breath and opened his eyes. His blue eyes met with the burning yellow eyes of Vader. Vader was frowning. Anakin took a step forward, closing the distance between the two. He grabbed Vader's arm.

"You better keep up your end of this bargain," Anakin said.

Vader smiled. "Do you accept?"

"Yes," Anakin said.

"Good," Vader said. Anakin gasped as he looked down to see a red lightsaber stabbing him in the heart. Vader held the hilt. He twisted it slightly and pushed it in deeper. Slowly, coming out of the wound caused by the saber, a black darkness started to crawl across Anakin.

Anakin was frozen. He couldn't move. Couldn't fight it off. The blackness now completely enveloped his body and was growing down to his limbs. Finally all that was left was his head, and soon that was completely covered in blackness as well. Vader pulled the red saber out. With that movement, the form of Anakin Skywalker started to flake apart into ashes and float into the red landscape. Vader only smiled as he watched the flakes float away.

He turned his attention back to the body which was now his. Completely his. He re-established his connection with the Force. This time it easily bent to his will since there was no longer any conflicting notions about which side of the Force he should wield. This time he was completely using the Dark Side. This time it completely accepted Vader's control. Vader could feel the power swelling in him. More power than Anakin had ever wielded.

He pushed out in the Force back to Padmé's failing body. He once again reached out to the midichlorians in her heart and other dying organs. Heal, he demanded. Live. The midichlorians fought back. They didn't want to. They wanted to die. Heal, he demanded again infusing the Dark Side into his command.

Slowly the midichlorians started to react. The fed off Vader's dark energy. They started to heal the heart. The swollen tissues started to go back to normal. The heart was able to pump blood more easily. With better blood flow through the body, the rest of the organs started to mend themselves as well.

When Vader opened his ember eyes, there was a significant change in Padmé. Her breathing was more even. There was a red color to her skin now. Most importantly was her Force signature. It was still weak, but it no longer flickered. She would live.

Vader took a shaky breath. The soft sound of cloth moving, brought Vader's attention to the other inhabitant in the room, Kenobi. The Jedi had moved closer while Vader was healing Padmé. Kenobi was looking down at Padmé.

"You . . . you did it . . ." Kenobi said softly. He looked up at Vader. "But how? What price did you pay, Anakin?"

"That is no longer my name," Vader growled. "Anakin has been destroyed. I am Darth Vader."

Kenobi examined Vader closely. Vader could feel Kenobi reaching out with the Force as well.

"I see," Kenobi said slowly. "So you are truly a Sith."

"Now then, Jedi" Vader hissed. "Tell me where is my child?"

Kenobi straightened up. "You will not get it."

Vader glanced down at Padmé. Her breathing was still even. It looked like now she was just sleeping. Deep inside Vader he felt the small leftover fragments of Anakin stir in anger. Even the weak side of him was angry at Kenobi for keeping the child. Vader straightened up and slowly made his way around the table. He unclipped his lightsaber from his belt.

"This is not a choice you get to make, old man," Vader said as he ignited his blade. A red blade sprang to life.

"I will not hand over innocent lives for you to twist into your darkness," Obi-Wan said as he too brought out his lightsaber and ignited it.

"One way or another, Obi-Wan," Vader said, "You will tell me."

Vader dashed forward, using the Force to enhance his speed. But Kenobi was waiting. Their blades hissed as they crashed into each other. Vader took a step back, allowing his black robe to fall to the floor. Obi-Wan shed his brown robe. The two sized each other up. Then Vader was once again bringing his saber down fast and hard on Obi-Wan.

Vader knew this would be a hard duel. The two knew each other's moves. They knew how the other fought with great intimacy. Yet Vader had the advantage. Obi-Wan knew Anakin, and Vader was no longer Anakin. He pressed hard and fast. It made Obi-Wan go on the defensive. He was slowly being pushed back out of the med bay. More importantly away from Padmé.

Sparks flew from when a saber scraped into a metal wall or floor. The two sabers clashed and clashed. Obi-Wan ducked low and then shot up and forward. He came in close to Vader. Vader barely had time to bring his saber up. He could feel the heat of the two sabers against his chest and face. Vader kicked at Obi-Wan, who somersaulted away.

Not letting Obi-Wan collect himself, Vader charged forward. He brought his saber down low and then up in a strong swipe. Obi-Wan deflected the blade to the side and then brought his own blade into a stab at Vader's open body. Vader used the Force to push himself out of the way of the beam. But then he felt the Force come from Obi-Wan's open hand. He was Force pushed into the wall.

Obi-Wan at once was bringing his saber high and down to strike at Vader. But Vader was able to collect himself fast enough. He brought up his own hand use the Force to blow Obi-Wan back. Vader jumped up. The Force enhanced jump launched him in the air and landed with a satisfying crunch on Obi-Wan's non-saber arm. Obi-Wan let out a pained scream. Vader brought his red blade low to Obi-Wan's throat.

"Now," Vader growled. "Where is the child?"

"I will never tell you where they are," Obi-Wan spat back.

"Fine. We'll do this the hard way."

Vader reached out with his free hand and grabbed Obi-Wan's face. At once Vader was slamming into Obi-Wan's mental shields. The Jedi was desperately trying to keep them up, but he was no match for Vader. Vader used his rage to fuel his power. He smashed through Obi-Wan's shields. Vader savored the fear that blossomed in Obi-Wan.

Vader tore through Obi-Wan's mind to locate his memories. He saw flashes of Padmé on a medical table. Then he saw flashes of a baby. His baby! This only enraged Vader further. The first time he was seeing his child was through Obi-Wan's memories. Suddenly a memory came into sharp focus.

Two small babies were wrapped in soft grey blankets. One had small tufts of brown hair. The other had blonde. They were both sleeping side by side in a crib.

There were two . . . There were two babies. Twins. Vader recalled Obi-Wan's words. I will never tell you where they are. I will not hand over innocent lives for you to twist into your darkness. Obi-Wan knew. Of course he knew! Obi-Wan was planning on keeping this from Vader! This Jedi would die-

Pain exploded in Vader's mind. All he saw was white. He gasped. He couldn't breath. It felt like his whole body was on fire. He was aware his body was on the floor, thrashing in pain.

"I loved you!" Vader heard Obi-Wan say. "You were my brother!"

"Obi . . . Obi-Wan!" Vader managed to spit out. He still couldn't see. The blinding white was consuming him. Burning his body and his mind. Slowly the whiteness dimmed into grey and into black.

Vader awoke to hands shaking him.

"Sir?" came a voice through a vocoder.

Vader's yellow eyes snapped opened. A clone trooper was kneeling on the ground next to him. A few other clones looked down at him as well. Vader quickly sat up, but at once was met with a wave of dizziness.

"Take it easy, sir," the clone trooper said as he put an arm on Vader's back for support.

"Where . . .," Vader said. His mouth was dry. His voice came out as a croaking noise. "Where is Kenobi?"

"There is no one else here," one of the standing clone troopers responded.

Vader swung his head up to that trooper. His armor marked him as the leader of this squad. "No one?" Vader asked.

"No sir. This ship is empty. We only found you," the trooper explained.

Kenobi was gone. He had mentally attacked Vader with the Force. A dirty trick for a Jedi. Then the coward had fled and took Padmé with him.

Padmé!

His heart hurt and ached. She was gone. Taken from him. Again. Their children were also kept from him.

Kenobi, Vader's thoughts hissed. Even the small fragments of Anakin cursed that name. I will find them, Vader promised. I will find my wife and my children. I will have them all. We will be a family. It was after all the bargain he had made with himself.


Anakin's eyes looked at the white and cyrstal world of the moon he had brought his family to. Padmé stood quietly next to him as she processed what he had just told her.

"Was there really no other way to save me?" Padmé asked. Her voice soft. She turned to face him.

"No," Anakin replied. He took a deep sigh. "At least not right then. You were dying Padmé."

"Then you should have let me die," she said in a soft whisper.

The deep anger and darkness flared up inside Anakin. He pushed it down. "I . . . I couldn't," Anakin said.

Tears were filling her eyes. "Yes you could have!"

Anakin placed his hands on her shoulders. "Would have let me die if the roles were reverse?" Anakin asked. She didn't answer, but Anakin already knew the truth. She would have done everything to save him.

"Why . . ." Padmé started. "Why doesn't Vader want anyone to see the children?"

Anakin sighed. "He hasn't made it public that he has a family. He's waiting for when he returns to Imperial Center. He's hoping by then you'd be more . . . open to accept your proper title as Empress. It would be a blow to the Rebellion to see one of their most public faces now at the side of the Emperor. And until he has made it public, he doesn't want it known he has a family especially children. The Emperor has a lot of enemies."

"I'm aware of that," Padmé huffed.

Anakin smiled. "You may be aware of all the Rebellious enemies, but there are plenty within the Empire as well. They wouldn't pause to harm or kill Vader's children."

"I just wish . . . " she said as tears fell down her face. Anakin brought his flesh hand up and gently wiped away the tears. "I just want us to be a family," she said. "A normal family."

"I know," Anakin said softly. "I do too."

"Then leave this all behind! Run away from it all with me and the children!" she pleaded as she grabbed his shirt.

The anger was bubbling inside of him. He pulled himself away from Padmé. "No," Anakin said harshly. "I can't."

"Yes you can!" Padmé pleaded. "You can fight Vader! You can be Anakin. Be with me. With the children. We can all be happy!"

"No!" Anakin said. The darkness was at the tipping point. "Do not ask this of me. It cannot be done."

"Why?" Padmé asked. "Why do you act like you've lost? You're better than this. The Anakin Skywalker I know would never back down."

"I'm not Anakin," he replied. She looked at him like she didn't believe him. He took a steadying breath. "I already told you. There is no fight to be won."

"Then who are you? Who are you right now?"

Anakin stepped away from Padmé and looked back out the window. "Does it matter?" he finally asked. "Who I am? I've told you there is no difference. I'm Vader. Anakin. We're the same."

"I just don't believe that. I don't believe the same person who played so kindly with his children is the same one who threatened them. Anakin is not gone."

"He is!" Anakin barked. "That was the deal!"

"What deal?"

"The bargain I made with the Dark Side," Anakin explained. "I was . . . Anakin was too weak to save you. Only the Dark Side could save you."

She was quiet for a while. Neither spoke. "Which one is it?" she finally asked. Anakin just looked over at her. "Which one is it? You've contradicted yourself. You've said there is no difference between Anakin and Vader. You're one and the same. Yet you also said Anakin was destroyed, which would imply that Anakin and Vader are different. So which one is it?"

Anakin could only stare at her for a moment. There was a small part of pride for her inside of him. "Or perhaps," Anakin said with a slight smile, "Anakin was destroyed and became part of Vader." Padmé let out an irritated huff.

"Regardless I'm not giving up on you, Anakin Skywalker," she said determinedly. "The answer to your earlier question of would I let you die is no. I will not let you die."

Anakin just looked sadly at her. "You should just give up on that fight," Anakin said. "You should just give up on fighting Vader all together. He'll eventually get what he wants. And he wants you . . . and the twins . . ."

"Kriff Vader," Padmé grumbled. "That monster will never have me or my children."

"Please Padmé," Anakin said. He again stepped up to her put a hand on her shoulder. "Do not push him. You do not know the extent to which he'll go to get what he wants. Don't fight him on this. It'll only get worse." He squeezed her shoulder.

She looked at him. Her brown eyes meeting his blue. There was a fire in her. A burning determination. "I will, but only if you make a deal with me," Padmé said. "A bargain," she added with a smile. Anakin slightly nodded his head for her to continue. "I will stop fighting Vader if you start fighting him."

Anakin frowned deeply. "Padmé, we've already gone over this . . . "

"Yes, yes, I know," Padmé said. "But that's my condition. Vader wants a family? Fine. I want a family too. My real family with you."

"And how are we going to be a real family?" Anakin asked. "After everything I've done? How can you be so forgiving?" Padmé was quiet. "Are you just going to skip over the fact I hacked up your old lover? Or killed your rebel crew in front of you? Or bombed Naboo? Amongst all the other things I have done to you? To the children?"

"I don't forgive any of it," Padmé said in serious whisper. "But I know that wasn't you. It was Vader. I can't forgive him. I won't."

"You shouldn't," Anakin grumbled. "He's doesn't regret any of it."

"And yet you ask me not to fight him?" she asked softly.

Anakin closed his eyes. "I know," he whispered softly. "But I ask it of you so he doesn't do more. So you're not hurt any more."

"And the best way to stop him is for you to fight him!" Padmé said. Anakin let out a small groan as once again they circled back to this. "I'm willing to forgive you, Anakin. If that's the price I have to pay to have you back, to have Vader gone, then I will pay it."

Anakin wrapped his arms around her and brought her into an embrace. "I don't deserve you," Anakin said. She wrapped his arms around him. The two stayed like that for a while.

Then Padmé whispered, "Do we have a deal?"

Another stretch of silence followed. "I . . . I will try . . ." Anakin finally said. "It's all I can offer you."

"It's all I ask. Just please don't give up," Padmé said. "I miss you. I need you."

"And you'll stop fighting Vader?" Anakin asked. Padmé reluctantly nodded. "You'll have to get the children to accept him as well." Padmé let out a small growl.

"I will try," she said mimicking Anakin's own words.

"It's all I ask," Anakin said back with a smile. He squeezed her tight for a moment. "I have to go."

Anakin pulled away and smiled at her. Padmé smiled back. Both smiles were sad ones. Ones made from broken hearts that had been attempted to be put back together. Anakin nodded to her and left. He made his way through the hallways. He passed the red guards which were stationed there to protect his family. His passed several stormtroopers on patrol. Each saluted as he passed. He finally made it to the hangar where his shuttle waited.

He said nothing as he boarded. He went straight to the command cabin. Luckily his crew didn't to be told what to do. He felt the vibrations of the engine starting. He sat down in a chair and leaned his head back. His mind went over the conversation with Padmé. He smiled.

"Well that went far better than I expected," he said to himself.

Vader took a deep breath. He knew his eyes were returning back to their proper gold color. Padmé should have listened. He had warned her. He had never lied to her. There was no difference between Anakin and Vader. He had made a deal with her where he had to do nothing on his part. He had told her repeatedly there was no fight to win.

Fear was a wonderful thing. It was something Vader come to learn how to manipulate very well. Yet too much fear didn't work either. That was where Sidious was wrong. He believed that fear alone would keep his empire in line. Fear went hand and hand with hope. You either gave people hope or they would find it themselves. It worked a lot better when you gave it to them. They were always so eager for it.

For example Vader had created fear with a virus. Then he offered hope with the antidote. People were so willing to sell their freedoms for safety. For hope. Padmé was no different. She wanted Anakin Skywalker. She hoped for his return, so Vader had given her that hope. All he had to do was play the role of Anakin. She had completely bought it. Hopefully this would bring her and the twins properly in line. Let them get to love Anakin.

For Anakin was Vader. There was no difference. There was no battle between them. Anakin Skywalker had been destroyed five years ago. The small fragments of that pathetic weakling had long since been consumed by the fires of Vader.

At least that's what Vader thought.

Chapter Text

Chapter 24: The Call

Padmé paced back in forth in her room. It had been three days since Anakin had left. Ever since then she was constantly fighting back her emotions, especially her anxiety. She had better control around the twins, but when left alone her heart beat would start to rise. Her thoughts would spin crazily out of control. She sat down on the edge of the round bed and took a few deep calming breaths.

Over the past three days she had tried to create a sense of normalcy for the children, but that didn't mean she had ignored what had happened. She had talked to the twins over what happened. They hadn't understood everything that had been said, but they knew it was scary and Vader, their father, was the one causing it.

It had been a tough conversation to introduce the idea to Luke and Leia to be nice to Vader the next time they saw him. Padmé knew that Luke would be able to easily reaccept Vader, as long as Vader was in his role of father and not Emperor. It was Leia Padmé still worried over. She had become very quiet around Padmé. Padmé had tried talking to her daughter privately. She wanted to help Leia work through her emotions and thoughts. The last thing Padmé needed to happen is for Leia to yell at Vader, causing Vader to react.

What would Vader do next? Anakin had warned her that Vader would keep going until he got what he wanted. Vader wanted a family. A family that accepted him. Completely and willingly. The words of her own bargain with Vader echoed in her head. Could she fake being a family with Vader? Could the twins? Could Leia?

She heard small footsteps running down the hall to her room. Both twins ran into the room and jumped on to her bed. She couldn't help but smile to see them both happy. At least they could still be happy with everything they had seen. The joy of children was a very hard thing to keep locked down forever.

"It's time!" Luke said as he jumped on the bed. "It's time!"

Leia jumped too, but she didn't say anything.

"Yes, yes," Padmé said as she pushed herself up. The twins jumped down to the floor. "Let's go."

Padmé still didn't know the name of the place Anakin had brought them. She didn't know where it was either. The sky was always covered in white clouds. She could never make out the stars. She had never heard of a planet or moon like where they were. It was as if it was a giant geode. The surface was made completely out of white crystal with some milky white water pooling in the low areas in lakes.

She led the twins through white doomed rooms until they reached the door that led into the gardens. The atmosphere here was not breathable, at least Padmé assumed. But there was a large clear dome over the gardens, allowing them to go outside. One red Royal Guard stood at the door with two normal stormtroopers. The children clutched to Padmé's skirt and hid behind her. They didn't like the guards. She nodded to the red guard, who said nothing but keyed the door panel. The door opened to the gardens. The two troopers went first and Padmé and the twins followed. The red guard came last. The guards would stay by the door allowing the family some privacy.

The garden was just clusters of crystals. The twins loved to run around and climb on the towers. As soon as the guards were out of sight, they squealed and dashed off to a nearby group of crystals and started to climb them. Padmé let the twins play for a while before she called them over.

"How would you two like to play a game?" she asked them. Though she kept her voice and face sweet, her insides were churning. The two smiled and nodded at her. "Do you know how to play hide and seek?" she asked. They both shared a look and again nodded at her.

"Are you going to be the one seeking?" Luke asked.

"Yes," Padmé said. "But also the guards are too." The two children frowned at each other and looked worriedly up at Padmé. "Don't be worried," she said softly. "I know you two are excellent hiders. You won't let those mean guards find you." Luke eagerly accepted the challenge. He nodded with a determined smile. Leia was still unsure. "Oh and one more thing, you can't come out of hiding until I say the code word."

"What's the code word?" Luke asked eagerly.

"I don't know, what should it be?" Padmé asked.

Luke thought for a minute. "Skyhopper!" he shouted. Padmé smiled earnestly this time.

"Skyhopper it is," she agree. "I'm going to go tell the guards we're starting now. You two go find a good hiding spot. And don't get tricked! Only come out when the code word is said."

Luke grasped his sister's hand, and the two went off into the maze of crystals. Padmé let her fake smile drop. She gave the twins some time to find a good spot. She took a deep breath. Then another. She grabbed her skirts in both hands and started to call out for the twins.

"Luke! Leia! Where are you! Come out!" she shouted making sure she added a desperate tone to her voice. "Luke! Leia! Please!" She kept shouting as she made her way back towards the building and the guards. The guards stiffened as they heard her shouting. She looked over at them trying to portray the look of a worried mother. "Guards!" she shouted. "I can't find the children!"

The two stormtroopers looked back at the Royal Guard. They were clearly talking through their helms, but Padmé was not privy to what was being said. Then the two troopers nodded as they headed out into the gardens. The Royal Guard approached Padmé.

"We'll find the children, your highness," the Royal Guard said.

"Thank you!" she said. "And please be gentle! They're just children! They're just playing!" The guard nodded at her as he too walked into the crystals.

Padmé waited until the red faded out of sight. Then she made a sharp turn back to the building. She made her way back to the door leading inside and entered the code she had been painfully learning each time the guards entered it. The door swished open. She didn't head back into her quarters. The gardens were a closed off space. There were two other doors that led back inside, but they were both well locked. But they didn't have guards stationed at them. Only this door.

They weren't guarding the gardens, they were actually watching the service door. Near the door leading outside was another door. It was inconspicuous. It almost blended in with the wall. But it was there. Padmé had paid very close attention to the building when she was outside in the gardens with the twins. The outside size did not match up with the inside size. Parts of the house were blocked off. Padmé assumed these were the service quarters.

She walked over to the door and quickly found a latch that hid the keypad. She tried the same code the guard had used on the garden door. It luckily opened the service door. Padmé sent a prayer to her gods as she walked into the thin quiet hallway. The first door was a linen closet. The next door a storage room of household items. Padmé kept moving. Kept searching. She was running out of time.

Finally she found what she was looking for. It appeared to be a mechanical room. Large pipes and furnaces filled the room. But her eyes were on the desk stuffed into a corner and the com device sitting on it. Padmé smiled as she grabbed the device, stuffed it into her skirt, and made her way back out into the hallway. She grabbed her skirts and ran down the hallway.

She hesitated before the service door again. If the guards had returned to their post or if new guards were there, she would be questioned as to why she was in the service hallway. Possibly searched and the hidden com found. But there was a possibility there wouldn't be any guards waiting outside. They were still in the garden looking for the children. Padmé took a deep breath. It was a risk she was going to have to take. She pressed the door control panel, the door opened, and she stepped through.

The door to the gardens was as she had left it. No guards. She smiled, but wasted no time in returning to the gardens. She could hear the shouts of the guards as they called out to the children. Padmé ran out into the crystals.

"Luke! Leia! Skyhopper!" she shouted. "Let's go play skyhopper!" She made her way through the crystals shouting. "Skyhopper! Luke! Leia!" Padmé shouted again. She had made it to the far wall of the dome that protected the gardens.

"Your highness!" one of the stormtroopers yelled as he ran over. "Your highness! We found the children."

"Oh! Thank goodness!" she said as she placed a hand over her heart. "Where are they? Are they safe? Are they hurt?"

"No ma'am," the trooper reported. "They've been brought inside. I'll accompany you back in."

Padmé smiled and nodded and let the guard lead her back inside. She was brought to a large sitting room. The twins sat on the couch. Both were frowning and looking grumpy. The red Royal Guard stood nearby. His helm pointed at the children. It only moved when Padmé entered the room.

"Luke! Leia!" Padmé said making sure she sounded very relieved to see them. She rushed over to them and kneeled in front of them.

"Mother!" Luke said happily as hugged Padmé around her neck. Leia leaned over and clung onto Padmé's arm.

"I couldn't find you!" she said.

"That's because we hid really really good!" Luke said proudly. "Not even the guards found us!"

"Your highness," the Royal guard said in an annoyed tone. "A word please."

Padmé slowly stood up. The twins looked between her and the guard. They were worried. Padmé smiled at them warmly, before she walked over to him.

"Your highness, for the time being you and the children are not allowed back in to the garden," he said.

"I understand," Padmé said softly. She kept her eyes down at the ground hopefully portraying a soft meek woman. She looked back at the red helmet. "But thank you, so much for finding them for me."

"Of course your highness," the guard said.

Padmé nodded at the guard, called the children, and the three left the guards behind. Luckily the guards never followed them into the bedrooms. Padmé was thankful for the privacy. Especially later that night when she pulled out the stolen com unit. She looked down at it. Again her heart rate was up as her anxiety grew stronger.

Who was she was going to call? She couldn't call her crew. They were all dead or captured. She couldn't call Bail. A cold thought washed through her at the thought of leaning on him again. There were still a few of Bail's close contacts such as Captain Antilles. There were others as well. Mon Mothma. And . . . Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Vader's words haunted her. "Obi-Wan planned on training Luke to use the Force, so the boy could become a weapon."

But then again could she trust Vader? Could she trust anyone? Her heart pounded in her chest. Her insides churned. She put a hand to her lower belly as strong cramps started. Her mind spun. It felt like hours later when she finally decided on a course of action. She entered the memorized frequency. Then waited for an answer. Her hands were sweaty, but clutched the com tightly.

"Who is this?" came a voice from the com. A voice Padmé had not heard in a long time, but still instantly recognized.

"Obi-Wan?" Padmé asked. Her voice was shaky.

"Padmé?" Obi-Wan asked back. There was a clear note of disbelief.

"Obi-Wan! Yes this is Padmé!"

"Padmé, thank the Force," he said. "We had feared the worst when it was reported the Helios Eclipse was captured and shot down."

"Vader has me," Padmé replied.

"Padmé . . ." Obi-Wan said but it sounded more like 'I'm sorry.' "Padmé, listen. The Organas-"

"Have also been taken by Vader," Padmé said softly. "Vader has them. The twins. Vader has us all. I'm sorry Obi-Wan. I . . . I . . ." A small sob formed in her throat. "He threatened Naboo," she cried. "He was going to bomb Theed if I didn't tell him where the children were. I'm so sorry Obi-Wan."

"It's ok Padmé," Obi-Wan said softly. "Are you safe? Are the twins? They're both there?"

"Yes, we're fine. We're no longer on the Devastator. We were kept there until three days ago. There was an argument . . . Vader left us here on some planet or moon. Can you track this call? Can you find us?"

"Vader isn't with you?" he asked.

"No, but he will be back soon, but I don't know when."

"And the Organas?"

"It's just me and the twins. Everyone else is back on the Devastator. The Organas. The Lars. Even Rion. He used them all against me. Rion and Bail . . . they . . ."

"It's ok Padmé. This isn't your fault," Obi-Wan said soothingly.

"Yes it is!" she cried back. "You have no idea what he has done! What he has already put the children through!"

"We'll stop him," Obi-Wan said determinedly.

"Obi-Wan. Please you'll have to work fast. I don't know when he'll come back, but I feel like this is our only chance. He said he would take us to his palace on Imperial Center. I fear if he gets us there, there will be no way to escape."

"Yes, it would be much harder," Obi-Wan said thoughtfully. "Padmé, I've got a successful track on your location. Please stay strong. Hopefully we can get to you soon."

"Please, Obi-Wan, you're my only hope right now," Padmé pleaded.

"May the Force be with you," he said. Then the line went dead. Padmé clutched the com to her chest. Her heart still pounded in her chest. Painful cramps still stabbed at her. There was only one thought in her mind that repeated over and over and over.

What had she done?

Chapter Text

Chapter 25: The Anxiety

Padme watched as the twins slept in their small beds. Unlike on the star destroyer, their beds were next to each other. A small night stand the only thing separating the two. During the day they liked to jump from one bed to the next. Padme had expected the two to suffer from nightmares, especially Leia, but each night they both slept soundly. Perhaps it was the proximity to each other. Perhaps it was being away from Vader.

The stolen com unit laid heavily in the pocket of Padme's skirt. Her hand was curled tightly around it. She had yet to throw it away. The sooner she did so the better. The guards appeared to be watching her more closely. They still didn't come into the bedrooms, but now a red Royal Guard was stationed at the end of the hallway and another in the living room. They were now always close. Within shouting distance. If they found the com on Padme, it would be investigated at once. While Padme could probably talk her way out of an interrogation from the guards, talking her way around Vader was a completely different matter. The last thing she wanted was for him to come back early. Thus the com unit needed to be disposed of and soon.

Padme quietly walked up to the small beds her children slept in. She watched their small chests rise and fall as they breathed. Despite the peaceful scene in front of her, her body was tense. Her heart pounded inside her chest. Her anxiety and fear clawed at her every second since the call with Obi-Wan. The question continued to plague her. What had she done?

Had she doomed Obi-Wan? Did Vader know she had the com unit and made the call? Padme knew that Obi-Wan had destroyed the unit she had called him on. It was far too risky for him to keep that frequency in case their call had been tracked. Would Obi-Wan make it to her in time before Vader returned? She prayed to all her gods and the Force that this would work out. It had to. For the twins. This situation was not good for them. They needed to feel safe and secure. Sadly that meant away from their father.

Again Padme asked herself, what had she done? She had promised Anakin she wouldn't fight Vader anymore. Anakin had promised her he would try to fight Vader off. What would happen when Vader found out her and the children had left? What would happen to whatever remained of Anakin? The children brought Anakin out. Taking them away from him . . . what would happen?

Her heart ached. She just didn't know what to think. No decision seemed like the right decision. Her body was not handling this stress well. She was having strong cramps lately. She sighed, gave one last look at the small sleeping children, and left the room. She headed back towards her bedroom. There was no privacy elsewhere. The guards would be watching. Once in her bedroom she made her way to the refresher to prepare herself for bed. The children had been rather needy lately. Whenever Padme did slip away for a moment by herself, the twins would shortly get bored and find her. They would bug her until she played with them.

Again the strong cramps spiked through her. Perhaps she needed to take something for these cramps. The stress seemed to be affecting her monthly cycle. She had been spotty over the past few days, but she had yet to start her period properly. When was it supposed to start? Padme counted back the weeks since her last cycle.

For a brief moment it felt like her whole body stopped working. Her heart stopped. Her breathing. Her mind. A sense of cold filled her.

Then all at once everything came rushing back into her. When was her last cycle? Her sense of time was all messed up with being on that blasted star destroyer and playing Vader's games. When was her last cycle? She was late. She knew that. And . . . she had been having unprotected sex.

"Kriff," she cursed out loud. She needed a pregnancy test, but how?

She stormed out of the bedroom and down the hallway. She found the red Royal Guard standing at the end of the hallway and the entrance into the living room.

"Guard?" she called out. The guard at once turned to face her. "Is there a med droid here?"

"Why do you need a med droid, your highness?" the guard asked.

"I . . ." she could feel herself blushed. "I do not feel well."

"How so?" the guard pressed.

She clenched her hands into fists. "I need one for feminine discomforts," she explained.

"My lady, you're going to need to be more specific."

Kriffing men, she cursed to herself. "My menstrual cycle!" she snapped at him. "Will you please get a med droid?" The guard seem a bit shaken from her outburst. Good, she thought. Think I'm PMSing.

"At once, your highness," the guard said.

"I'll be my room," she said. She turned without waiting for a response and stalked back down the hallway. She paced her room while she waited for the droid to arrive. Eventually it did. She was thankful it arrived alone without any guard escort.

"How may I help you?" the droid asked.

"I am having menstrual cramps," she reported.

"Are they stronger and longer lasting than usual?" the droid asked. "When was the date of your last cycle?"

Padme paused. "I need a pregnancy test," she said softly.

The droid did not pick up on her hesitation. "At once," the droid said. "I can do a blood test. Please hold out your arm." Padme complied. The droid brought out a syringe and collected a sample of her blood. "I will take the sample to go do a test. I shall have the results shortly," the droid said.

After the droid left, Padme sat on the bed. Her heart was pounding in her chest. She could hear her blood rushing through her. It felt painful to breath. She closed her eyes and tried to calm down. She could do this. If the results were positive . . . she could do this. She had to do this.

"I have the results," the mechanical voice of the droid announced as it stepped back into the room drawing Padme out of her thoughts. "You are pregnant. You would need to come into the med room for a proper examination to figure out how many weeks you are along."

She was trembling. She felt suddenly nauseous. "Thank- thank you," she managed to get out though her tongue felt large and swollen. "I would like to get some sleep now." Padme wasn't even sure if the droid responded. She was only barely aware it had left.

What would she do now? Her hand went to her stomach. She was shaking. Her heart was pounding in her chest. The nausea grew stronger. She needed to go to the refresher. But as she stood up, she found her legs were weak. She slid to the ground at the side of the bed.

A baby, she thought. Her eyes started to water. What will I do? How can I bring a new life into this mess? And what of its father? Vader! What will Vader do?

It hurt. It hurt so much. She clutched at her chest. She felt like she couldn't breath. She needed to get up, but she couldn't. Something was wrong. She needed help. What would she tell the guards? They would tell Vader! Then he would come back! He would take her to Imperial Center with the twins and the new baby.

"Moth-mother?" a small voice said.

Padme looked up to notice Luke and Leia stood in front of her. Their eyes were wide and full of fear.

"Are you ok?" Leia asked. "Are you hurt?"

"Why-why," Padme started to say, but found that was the only word she could get out. She wanted to know why they were here. Why weren't they in bed? Sweat beaded on her head and dripped down her face. Her breathing was short and panicked.

Leia walked up and brushed the hair out of her mother's face. She seemed to be saying something to Luke. "It will be ok," Leia said softly.

It won't, Padme thought. It won't be ok.

Padme's hand gripped at her chest as the pain in her heart grew stronger and stronger. Large hands grabbed at her. Red blurry figures picked her up and placed her in the bed. There were deep voices talking to her. Someone was shouting to someone else. She could just make out the intense blue and brown eyes watching her from the edge of the bed. She unclenched her hand and reached out towards Luke and Leia. But then the world started to spin and the darkness took her.


Padme looked up at the white domed ceiling. She had been laying in bed all day after last night's episode. When she finally came to, she was surrounded by a whole medical team made of human doctors and nurses and droids. It had been a panic attack. For now she just needed to rest. The twins had come in a few times to see her. They were quiet and moved slow around her, as if they were afraid they might hurt her. They were being watched by a nanny droid and one of the red guards.

Yet now Padme was alone, until a red Royal Guard walked into the room. He walked over to her and nodded his head. "Your highness," he said. "The Emperor wishes to speak with you." He held out a holographic com unit. The guard placed the unit in Padme's hand. He then pressed the button on the side.

A small blue holographic Vader stood in the com unit. He glanced at the guard and dismissed him. The guard bowed and left Padme alone.

"Padme" Vader said. His voice was deep with concern. "Are you ok?"

"I'm tired, but yes," she answered truthfully.

"What happened?"

"It was just a panic attack."

"Yes that is what I was told by the doctor," Vader said. "But why? What caused it?" She looked away from the holograph. What was she going to say? She couldn't tell him. "Padme," he said softly. "I'm going to return to collect you and the children." A cold spike of fear ran through her.

"No!" she shouted. "No." This time it came out as a sob.

"No?" Vader asked. "There are much better medical facilities here. You'll be better at my side."

"No," Padme said. "I'm fine. Really. There is no need for us to come back."

"You don't seem fine," Vader grumbled.

"Please, Vader," she pleaded. "The children are much happier here. Leia hasn't had a single nightmare. I am fine."

"I'm not convinced," Vader said.

"Please, no, it's nothing to worry about," Padme said.

""I'm sorry, but you and the children will be returning."

"Vader, I . . . I'm pregnant."

Vader was silent. She couldn't look at him. Instead she looked at the wall.

"Pregnant?" he said finally in a soft voice. Finally Padme looked at him. His eyes were wide in shock. She wished she could tell if they were blue or yellow. She only nodded at him. "Are you sure?"

"I would have thought the doctors would have reported it to you," she responded softly.

"No," he growled. "They did not."

"Don't," Padme said feeling a headache come on. "They probably thought I would want to tell you." This seem to somewhat appease Vader's anger. "I . . . I panicked when I found out."

"Padme," Vader said softly.

"I just didn't know what to do. What to think," she continued. "I don't deserve another child. I can barely be a mother to the two children I have now."

"Padme," Vader said harder this time. "We've been over this! Please, my love, you are being too hard on yourself. Don't you remember? A baby is a blessing. This time will be different. I promise."

Padme couldn't stop the tears from forming in her eyes and spilling down her cheeks. "How can you promise? How do you know? Look what happened last time!"

"My angel, please calm down," Vader said soothingly. His face was etched in worry. "I'll come and get you. We'll be together. I'll make sure everything is all right."

"No!" she cried out. "No, please just let us stay here. A little while longer. I'm fine. I am. I'm just . . . emotional. I need . . . I need to sort this out for myself. Please. Just stick to the original plan."

Silence stretched between them. "I'm just worried," he said. "I can't bare it, being away from you when you're hurting."

"Just finish whatever it is you're doing," she said. "So we can go home." The comment of home brought a smile to Vader. He slightly nodded at the thought. "If we're there on the ship, we'll just be a distraction," Padme continued. "I'd rather you finish up your duties. I want to be done with all this. Then we can relax."

"Very well," Vader said. "I will conclude my work in space soon. Then we can go home. As a family." Vader smiled at her again. "I'm really happy, Padme, about the baby." She smiled sadly at him. "Please take care of yourself," he added before he said goodbye and the holograph disappeared.

The guard returned shortly after and collected the com unit. He asked if she needed anything, but she only meekly shook her head. She was then left alone. Her hand came to her stomach.

"Obi-Wan," she whispered. "Please hurry."


The next day two of the Royal Guards escorted Padme into a different building. There she was taken to a small medical room. A female human doctor awaited her. Padme didn't recall this doctor from when she had a panic attack, but the new doctor explained she had brought here because she was a gynecologist. Padme wasn't that surprised that Vader would do such thing.

She went through the exam. The doctor figured Padme was five to six weeks pregnant. After the exam, Padme found herself back in the twin's room. The two children were still acting subdued around her. She couldn't help but wonder if the guards had said anything to them.

Padme sat on the floor with Leia. The two both held dolls. Padme was brushing her doll's hair.

"The guard said you went to the doctor," Leia said softly. She looked up at her mother. "Are you better now?"

Luke sat nearby. He had a small pile of toy spaceships surrounding him. He looked over at his mother as well.

"I'm fine," Padme said. "Come here my little ones. I have something to tell you." Luke got up and sat on the other side of Padme. "The reason I went to the doctor was because when I got sick the other night, I found out I was pregnant."

Leia let out a small delighted gasp. "There's a baby in your tummy?" she asked.

"Yes," Padme said smiling down at the two children. "You're both going to be big brother and sister."

"Is it going to be a boy?" Luke asked as he edged a bit closer to his mother.

"No!" Leia said. "It's going to be a girl!"

"We don't know what the baby will be yet. It's not big enough," Padme explained.

"When will it come out?" Luke asked.

Padme sighed. "Not for a while. It takes months for a baby to grow big enough to come out. The baby could get sick if it comes out too small." The two twins looked at Padme's stomach clearly thinking about the baby inside.

"What about . . . father?" Luke whispered.

"What about him?" Padme asked her son. Luke looked up at her. His blue eyes were large and sad.

"Will father hurt the baby?" Luke asked.

A sharp pain squeezed through Padme's hurt. How could her own son think that of his own father?

"No. No, Luke. You father will never hurt the baby," Padme said as she put a hand on Luke's back.

"But what if the baby cries?" Luke asked. "What if that makes him angry? What will father do to the baby?"

"Will he lock the baby up?" Leia asked. Her voice filled with concern.

The pain inside Padme continued to stab at her. It was horrible her children had these concerns over their own father. The sad thing was, they asked these questions based on what their father had done to them. Vader had locked the children in their room after they had gone down to the detention center. What could Padme say?

"No," Padme said. "Of course not." The twins looked unconvinced. "I talked to your father yesterday. I told him about the baby. He said he was very happy about the baby." Small frowns were still on both child's face. Padme sighed and placed a hand on her stomach. "I'm not going to let anything happen to the baby."

"I won't either!" Leia said.

"Me too!" Luke said.

"You two will be an excellent big brother and sister," Padme said smiling sadly. "But hopefully nothing bad will ever happen to the baby." Hopefully, Padme thought, this baby will be born away from Vader.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26: The Return

It had been six days since she had called Obi-Wan. Each day that went by Padmé found it harder and harder to bury her anxiety. She found it hard to sleep and eat, but she did her best especially since she was pregnant. On the sixth day, the children were both unsettled. They had both woken up early in the morning and came crying into Padmé's room. She tried to get them to tell her what was wrong, but they didn't seem able to voice it properly.

They were cranky the entire morning. Leia threw a small tantrum over Luke touching her doll. Padmé herself was getting tired. After lunch she tried putting them down to take a nap in their bedroom, but they just weren't having it. Luke kicked all his covers off his bed when Padmé was tucking in Leia. They both just pouted and said they didn't want to nap.

"Fine," Padmé said. "You don't have to nap." The twins jumped out of their beds happy to win this battle. "I'm going to nap," Padmé said. "Me and the baby are going to go to sleep. You two can stay and play in here."

Without another word or look, she turned and went back to her room. But small little feet were heard pattering behind her. She walked straight to her bed, pulled back the covers, and crawled in. She was quickly joined by two children who crawled in the bed from the other side.

"What are you two doing?" Padmé asked. "I thought you didn't want to nap."

"I'm not napping," Luke said. "I'm just watching."

"Well this isn't play time. Go to your room and play. I'm going to sleep," Padmé said as she put on a show of dramatically falling on to her pillow and pulling the covers up.

Leia scooted closer and made sure the covers were pulled up properly around Padmé. She kissed her mother on the head and smiled. Padmé couldn't help but smile back. Then Leia laid down with Luke right beside her. Two sets of eyes, one brown, one blue, stared at Padmé. She sighed and closed her eyes. Every now and then Padmé would open her eyes and watch as the two tired children nodded off to sleep.

She let out a long sigh, happy that they were finally resting. She should get some rest herself, but her stomach grumbled as a wave of nausea hit her. As quickly as she could, without bumping the children, she got of bed and rushed to the refresher. After emptying her stomach, Padmé entered the room and suddenly stopped short. A red Royal Guard stood by the doorway. She glanced around the room. The children were still asleep. Nothing was amiss. She walked cautiously up to the guard.

"Guard?" she asked.

"Yes, your highness?" the guard replied.

"Is there something wrong?"

"No ma'am," he replied.

"Then why are you in my room?" Padmé asked. She didn't hide the irritation from her voice.

The guard was quiet for a moment, as if considering his answer. "My job is to protect the royal family," he replied dryly.

Padmé was going to argue with him. The guards had been protecting the royal family fine outside her room for a week and a half now. Yet then another wave of nausea hit her. She had to quickly return to the refresher again. After throwing up again, she just wanted to sleep and hope her stomach settled down. The refresher door slid open. Padmé noticed a second guard had joined the first. Each one stationed on either side of the door. A small battle was going on inside of her. Part of her wanted to tell the guards to kriff off, but part of her was too tired to care right now.

Then she saw movement out of the corner of her eye. She had expected to see one of the twins awake, but it wasn't. It was Vader. He stood at the edge of the bed. His back was to Padmé, but she could tell he was looking down. Looking down at the still thankfully sleeping children. Vader slowly turned to face Padmé. His gold eyes met her brown ones.

He was dressed in his Emperor clothes. He wore his long black cloak and his fine black clothes. She noticed this outfit seemed to mirror the military uniforms of the Empire. He looked like a commander with his dark blonde hair slicked back. Even as walked to her, his movements were that of a soldier. He walked with confidence and a sense of authority.

He reached her and his gloved hand came to rest of her upper arm. A small smile slowly graced his lips as he looked her over. Her hair hung lose in its brown curls. She wore a simple white dress. She hadn't had the energy to deal with much else this morning with the twins crying. Padmé watched as Vader's smile turned into a frown.

"Are you ok?" he asked.

"Hmmm? I'm fine," she said.

"You look pale," he said. He took a step closer. He put his flesh hand flat against her stomach. Even through the fabric of her dress, she could feel how warm his hand was.

"It's just morning sickness," she said softly.

He pulled her into an embrace, gently hugged her. "You should rest," he said into her hair. He then left three small kisses on the top of her head.

She let out a small huff. "That's what I've been trying to do," she grumbled. "But the children have been cranky all day. I just now got them to take a nap." Vader said nothing. Only continued to hold her. Finally Padmé placed her hands on his chest and pushed away. His hands slowly slid off of her. "What are you doing here?" she asked. "Are you . . . done with your work?"

"No," Vader replied. There was an edge to his voice. Annoyance? Anger? "I decided it would be best to bring you and the twins to Imperial Center. You will be safe there. The entire First Fleet stands guard over the planet. Plus you'll have the best care for the baby." Vader's eyes flicked briefly down to her stomach.

"I thought . . . I thought we were going to wait until you were done. So we could go together," she said.

"We will go together," Vader said. "I'll see you there myself."

"But you're not going to stay," she pushed.

Vader sighed. "No." He looked over his shoulder at the twins. "I'm afraid I won't be able to stay."

"Then we can just wait here," Padmé offered, "Until you're finished. Like we originally planned."

Vader turned back to her. His face was hard. "No," he said harshly. "You three are going to my palace. Going home."

Padmé searched his face. He wasn't telling her something. Something had changed. She glanced over at the red Royal Guard. They were both still standing by the door. She had never seen them in her personal space before. Vader seemed to enjoy his privacy with his family. He had never had the Royal Guard inside their rooms on the star destroyer. So why did he have them here now?

"What happened?" she asked.

He just stared at her as if he was considering telling her or not. "It is no concern to you," he replied.

"No concern to me?" she asked. She realized she had raised her voice and quickly glanced around Vader. Neither child stirred. She glared back at him and whispered. "No concen? If there are guards in my bedroom, then I think there is a concern to me."

"My angel," Vader said as he placed both his hands on her shoulder. "I don't want to worry you about it. You have enough you should be focused on."

"Like what?" she pressed him. "My pregnancy? You forget I was actively involved in the Senate until days before I gave birth."

She saw him tense up. His hands curled into fists at his sides. "And was that really for the best?" he said between clenched teeth. "Padmé, you almost died. You would have died if I hadn't saved you."

She glanced down at the ground, unable to meet his gaze. Vader let out a long breath. She felt the tension leave his body.

"I have a shuttle waiting," he said.

She only nodded as she headed over to her closet and pulled out a jacket and shoes. Vader hovered nearby as she finished putting on her shoes. She glanced over at the children. She didn't want to wake them. They hadn't had enough sleep. Plus they would be waking up to Vader . . . Another wave of nausea hit her.

"Padmé?" Vader asked.

She dropped her jacket and ran back into the fresher. At least this time she was sure there was absolutely nothing left in her stomach now. She shakingly returned to feet and left the refresher. Vader still stood in the same spot, but he had picked up her jacket from the floor. His arms were crossed and the jacket hung from his arm. He had been watching the children, but turned as she came out. He walked over to her and lightly pushed her back into the fresher. Once inside, the door slid shut.

"Are you ok?" he asked.

"Honestly? No. But it's just morning sickness," she said. "Why are we in the refresher?"

Vader unfolded his arm. He opened his gloved hand to reveal a com unit. Her com unit. The stolen one. A sharp coldness shot down her back. Her suddenly seemed to have to work harder. It thumped hard in her chest.

"What is this?" Vader asked. His voice was even. It gave away no hint of his emotions that were surely boiling underneath. Padmé didn't look up at him. Her eyes were just on the com. "What is this?" Vader asked again. His anger started to leak into his words. "Where did you get this?"

Padmé took a deep breath before she straightened herself up. She stood tall and then looked Darth Vader in the eyes. He was angry. His eyes seemed to glow.

"It's a com unit," Padmé replied calmly.

"I know what it is," Vader hissed at her.

"Well you asked me what it was, and I told you," she replied.

"Where did you get it? Who did you call?" Vader growled.

She didn't back away. She didn't flinch. She held her ground. One of her hands came to rest on her stomach. A move which Vader noticed as he eyes glanced down, but then returned right back up.

"Does it really matter who I called?" Padmé asked. "Does it really change anything? You're here. We're going back to your palace. Nothing has changed."

"Nothing has changed?" Vader growled as he leaned in close. So something has happened, Padmé mused to herself. Vader's hand clenched around the com unit. She heard a cracking and snapping sound. Vader opened his hand to reveal the unit completely broken. "We're leaving, now," Vader barked.

Vader sharply turned and left the refresher. Padmé's hand gently rubbed her stomach. She was thankful that hadn't gone any worse. She wondered how much Vader was holding his temper back because she was pregnant. Yet her mind went to back to what Vader had said and how he had reacted. Something had happened. Had it been Obi-Wan? Or another rebel cell? Something had happened to get under Vader's skin. He was worried about her and the children. He had the guards in the room with them. He wanted them at his palace right away. Why?

She exited the refresher to find the children were now awake and sitting up in the bed. They were rubbing their eyes and yawning. Vader was gently putting on socks and shoes on Leia. Padmé walked over to the bed. As soon as Padmé approached both twins called out for her. They eyed their father, clearly uncomfortable to be around him. Leia held her arms to be picked up. Padmé leaned over and picked Leia up. When Vader finished putting on Luke's shoes, he picked up the boy.

"Come," Vader ordered as he led the way out of the room.

No one said anything. The twins were both quiet. Luke stared at his mother over his father's shoulder. His blue eyes were wide. A small frown was on his face. Leia just tightly clung to her mother. There were two red guards in front of Vader. The two from the bedroom had fallen behind them. A third pair joined the end of the line after they walked through the living room.

Suddenly Luke let out a small whine. Vader stopped and the whole line stopped as well. "Luke?" he asked. Luke buried his head into Vader's neck. He let out another small whine. "Luke? What's wrong?"

Vader glanced up at Padmé. His face was full of concern. Padmé moved closer to see if she could see what was wrong. That's when Leia squeezed Padmé tighter. Vader's head snapped up, his eyes wide, his mouth slightly open in shock. His eyes turned towards her, his mouth opened. She was sure it was to say her name, but he never got around to it.

That was when the explosion hit.

Padmé was at once thrown to the ground. Her knees burned from the impact. One of her hands caught herself on the wall. The other arm continued to tightly grab at her daughter. Rubble started to pour down around her. Smoke filled the air. Her ears were ringing. Hands grabbed at her. She jerked away, but the hands kept their grip.

"Padmé!" Her name sounded muffled. She looked up to see Vader pulling her up. He took Leia from her arms and passed her off to a guard.

"No!" Leia cried. "Mother!" She reached out back towards Padmé. Luke was also in the arms of a guard. He looked equally unhappy happy as his sister. His arms were also out towards Padmé.

Vader wrapped his arms around his wife. "Padmé?" Vader asked. "Are you ok?"

She looked up at him and nodded. He hugged her and then he let go. He grabbed her hand and pulled her down the hall. The guards, including those holding the children, followed along. They were moving at much faster pace now. A tremor shook the building, causing the group to pause. Vader glanced back down the hall. He shared a look with one of the guards, before he turned and continued on.

The halls they were walking through had changed. No longer were they the soft whites of the living quarters she had been staying in, they were now a light grey and metal. It reminded her of the star destroyer. Vader paused as they came to an open room. Several hallways branched off from this room. Vader let go of her hand and pulled a guard off to the side. The two at once were talking quietly in the corner.

The twins had been quiet, but now that they had stopped, they wiggled against the guards holding them. The guards struggled to contain them.

"It's ok," Padmé said. "You can let them down."

The guards slowly put the two children down, who rushed over to Padmé the moment their feet touched the ground.

"Mother! Mother!" they both cried as their small arms tightened around her waist. She placed a hand on each of their heads and stroked their hair. They buried their heads into her side. Every now and then they would look around. Often just glare at the guards, and then cuddle back against Padmé.

Vader marched over. His face was grim. "We're almost to the hangar," he said as he looked down at the children. They both peered up at him. "Let's go," he ordered. The twins squeezed Padmé tighter, whined, and buried their heads back into her. Padmé looked back up at Vader. He wasn't angry or annoyed but worried and tired.

He sighed. "Children, we must go to where it is safe," he said calmly. He took a step forward, his arm was out as if to grab one of the children's arm, but then he stopped. He took a sharp intake of air. His head snapped to the side. The temperature suddenly dropped. Padmé felt both children shiver a bit.

"Obi-Wan," Vader hissed softly.

Padmé noticed Vader's hand was on his lightsaber. He glanced over at his family. His eyes were glowing yellow with red along the outside rim.

"Guards," he barked. "Get my family to the shuttle. See them to the Devastator. No delays."

"At once your majesty," said one guard.

Vader's eyes caught Padmé's, before he turned on his heels and marched down the hallway they had just come from. His cape swaying behind him. Padmé felt hands on her arms. A guard had come up beside her and was trying to lead her away. Padmé unwrapped the small arms around her waist. She took a hand from each child, and nodded at the guards. She followed as they led her on.

Her mind raced all over the place. Obi-Wan was here. He had come. His timing was a bit off. He had come at the same time as Vader. But . . . could it still be possible to escape? If so Padmé had to get herself and the children away from the guards. But how? The children were too small to outrun them. Her thoughts were still going over the possibilities when they entered the hangar. An Imperial shuttle sat on the far end.

Her hands were sweaty. Her heart pounded in her chest. She was sure she could hear it echoing throughout the hangar. Her mouth was dry. She glanced around from side to side. There had to be some way for her to get out of this. Once she got on that shuttle, she feared there was no escape.

The clapping sounds of running boots filled the hangar. Four of the red Royal Guard shifted their position. They stood in between Padmé and the group that had just run into the hangar from a side door. The group was made of various sentients. They all wore spacer clothes of synthleather and mix-match armor. Most wore helmets, some of which covered their whole head. They all carried a blaster, which they raised and without hesitation fired at the guards.

The guards were ready. The four in front each pulled out their Force pikes and a blaster from under their robes. As soon as Padmé saw the blasters rise from both groups, she gripped her children's hands tighter and pulled them in the opposite direction. The remaining two guards followed. Red blaster bolts shot past Padmé and the twins. Against the wall was a desk and a counter. She pushed the twins behind the desk and took cover behind it as well. The two guards didn't join them.

The three instantly clung tightly to each other as they huddled under the desk. The sound of the fire fight continued. Every now and then Padmé saw a red blaster bolt go over the desk and leave a scorch mark on the wall. She wasn't even sure which side she wanted to win. If that group out there were Rebels, they opened fire without hesitation. Without concern towards her or the children. What if these Rebels weren't here with Obi-Wan? A separate group?

A new sound was heard beyond the desk. A sound Padmé knew very well. It sent shivers up her spine. The hairs on her neck stood on end. Goosebumps formed down her arms. The last time she had heard this noise was when she had first been brought to Vader. Her hands had been bound behind her back and ankles bolted to the floor. The hum of lightsaber was unmistakable. She remembered the hissing sound it had made as it cut off Rion's hand.

Behind her, behind the desk, someone wielding a lightsaber had joined the battle. She could hear it humming. She could hear it hiss as it blocked or deflected a blaster bolt. Then slowly the shooting stopped. She heard the snap-hiss as the lightsaber blade went back into the hilt. Then there was an eerie silence. The only thing Padmé could hear was the sound of her own pounding heart and her breathing.

Sounds of boots were heard walking across the hangar towards Padmé. They were growing closer. Padmé tightened her hold on the children, pulling them closer. The boots got louder and louder. Her mind raced. Who was it? It could only be one of two people. She heard the steps approach and round the desk.

Padmé looked up. He looked like he had five years ago. He looked like he always did. His wore his tan and brown Jedi robes. His lightsaber clipped to his belt. His auburn hair brushed to the side. His beard well trimmed. Padmé let out a sigh of relief.

"Obi-Wan," she said.

"Padmé," he replied back as he bent over and held out his hand to her.

Chapter Text

Chapter 27: The Rebel

Padmé glanced around the hangar. It was silent. The bodies of the red guards and the rebels laid unmoving. The twins were hugging her side. Their large eyes also looked around the hangar.

"We must go. We can't linger here too long," Obi-Wan said breaking the silence.

"Were they with you?" Padmé asked unmoving. She turned to face Obi-Wan who was staring at the dead rebels. His eyes seemed distant.

"We needed extra help," Obi-Wan said finally. He looked back over at Padmé and held her gaze. His blue-grey eyes didn't waver. "And we didn't have a whole lot of time. I was able to track your call to this moon, but was unable to narrow down your exact location. I had hoped that upon arriving, I would be able to do so. Vader planned effectively. I couldn't pinpoint you, even with the use of the Force."

Padmé noted Obi-Wan's gaze flickered down to the twins, before he looked back up at her.

"I knew the best way to locate you would be to use Vader. We needed to do something that would cause Vader to personally come back here," Obi-Wan explained.

Obi-Wan's timing wasn't off, Padmé thought to herself. He had planned for Vader to come back. It also accounted for why Vader was acting off earlier.

"Whatever you did, clearly worked," Padmé said a bit dryly.

"So far, yes," Obi-wan said. "We're still not clear yet."

"Did you run into him?" Padmé asked still not moving. "He left to go hunt you down."

"No," Obi-Wan sighed. "This is why we must keep moving. Come."

They walked quietly through the hangar. Padmé eyed the rebels as they passed them. "So who were they?" Padmé whispered.

"Part of the diversion," Obi-Wan replied.

"They fired on me and the twins," Padmé said.

"I am sorry," Obi-Wan said. "We did brief everyone, but that also could have been the cause of them shooting at you. Some of the groups we have working with us would gladly do anything to piss off Vader."

Padmé scowled over at Obi-Wan.

"As I mentioned, we were very short on time," Obi-Wan said. "We didn't have time to vet everyone and we needed additional help."

They had made to the side hallway the rebels had entered through. Obi-Wan looked down at the twins.

"We will be able to move faster if we carry the children," Obi-Wan said.

The twins squeezed Padmé tighter. She looked down at them. They looked up at her. Their eyes were big and round. They were silently pleading with her. They didn't want to be seperated from her.

"It's alright," she said softly as she placed a hand on each child's head. "We need to get someplace safe and fast. Luke? You can be a big boy. Let Obi-Wan carry you. I'll be right here beside you."

Luke whined as he clearly did not like the idea. Obi-Wan smiled. "Come now, Luke," he coaxed. Luke reluctantly let go of his mother and shuffled over to Obi-Wan. With both twins being carried by the adults, they continued down the hall.

"What's the plan?" Padmé asked.

"We will rendezvous with my support group," Obi-Wan explained. "There are in the underground roadways. We have speeders waiting to take us to where our ships are."

"Get to the speeders. Get to the ships. And what about once we're in space? I imagine at least the Devastator is up there," Padmé said.

"I never said this was going to be easy," Obi-Wan said. "We will have to trust in the Force to guide us."

Padmé said nothing. They made their way quietly through the complex's halls. They ran into no one else. No troopers. No guards. Not even droids. It was quietly. There was only the sound of the footsteps and the hum of the building's life support systems. Obi-Wan led them to a stairwell. Padmé was getting tired. The lack of sleep along with the explosion to all the walking and carrying was finally getting to her. However she kept pushing herself. There would be time to rest later.

After going down several stories, they walked out into a small hall. It shortly brought them to a balcony that overlooked a larger hall that seemed to stretch endlessly in both directions. As Obi-Wan led them to a set of stairs, she saw on the lower floor a group of three speeders with people standing about them. That is when she realized this large hall was actually an underground roadway.

The rebels looked similar to the ones from the hangar, except they seemed more put together. Polished. While they didn't wear uniforms, their colors of their clothing matched. They wore white, brown, blue and black. They were a mix of races and some wore full-face masked helmets and some just wore simple helmets. The group by the speeders straightened up as they saw Padmé and Obi-Wan approach. Two of the rebels walked up to meet them. One was a Zeltron woman with pink skin while the other was a Gran male.

"We were starting to worry," the gran said.

"Here let me take the child from you," the Zeltron woman said. She held out her hands. Padmé hesitated for a moment. She glanced at Obi-Wan who nodded at her. She reluctantly handed over Leia. Leia whined and frowned, but otherwise accepted being handed over. Padmé was greatful. Her arms were heavy and sore. As they walked over to the speeders, she rubbed and massaged her arms.

The twins were placed in the back seat of a speeder side by side. After putting Luke down, Obi-Wan had moved to huddle with a few of the rebels. A few of the other rebels were jumping into the driver seats of the speeders and starting them up. A few stood around examining their blasters. A few eyed Padmé. She didn't recognize any of these rebels.

A hush fell over the group as the sound of screeching metal echoed through the roadway's halls. All eyes were focused down the hall. Padmé heard the sounds of blasters being lifted into shooting position. Someone whispered, "It's time to go." Slowly the group started to load into the speeders, but Padmé didn't. Her eyes were still focused down the hall towards the sound. She had to see this, for she knew what was coming.

She didn't see him enter the second-floor walkway. The same one Padmé and Obi-Wan had entered the roadway on. He was just suddenly there. A dark black shadow and blazing golden eyes. His face was twisted in anger. Vader had paused only for a moment. She knew the moment his eyes fell on her. She could feel the temperature drop. When they met again, what was she going to say to him?

A hand grabbed her and pulled her into the speeder. Red blaster shots started firing at Vader, who blocked them with his red lightsaber. The speeders sped off down the hallway, leaving Vader behind. Padmé wondered how much of a headstart they had on him. How long until he got himself a speeder? She finally turned around and looked for her children. They were not in the same speeder as her. She was in the middle speeder. The children were in the right one, and Obi-Wan in the left.

She settled down into the seat of the speeder. Her hands gripped the skirt of her dress. She twisted the fabric. She repeated Obi-Wan's plan in her head: Get to the speeders. Get to the ships. Get to space. Get away. This was going to work. She was going to get her children and herself away from Vader. Then she could worry about Anakin.

The underground roadway continued on. They passed several intersections and ramps leading upward. Finally the speeders slowed and turned on to a ramp. Padmé looked over at the right speeder and caught the sight of the twins' heads. They appeared to be safe and calm for now. The speeders pulled into a large garage. Other speeders were parked there. There were more rebels standing around. Padmé noticed the pile of white stormtroopers in a corner. She briefly caught a sign saying the hangar was a short distance away.

The speeders pulled to a stop, and the rebels started jumping out at once. Padmé saw two rebels pick the twins up. She herself got out of her speeder. As she was walking over to the twins, that was when the Imperial speeders showed up filled with troopers. They had cannons mounted to their speeders. At once the cannons let loose on the rebels that weren't near the speeders. Weren't near Padmé or the children. But green stun blaster shots did start coming towards her.

A rebel grabbed her arm and pulled her. The group was running towards the hallway that led towards the hangar. The troopers were spilling from the speeders chasing after them. Padmé's head whipped back to the troopers and then back to watch where she was going. The hallway branched into three different hallways, and the rebels went all three directions. Padmé was pulled down right one.

Padmé's side was hurting. Her muscles were cramping. This was getting to be too much. She needed to rest and soon. The rebel pulled her up a flight a stairs and they went through a doorway into a small hangar. They paused and Padmé stood there panting and heaving as she glanced around the hangar. There was no ships. No shuttles. Nothing. The hangar was empty. There weren't any other rebels. Just her and the one who had dragged her here.

"What's- where's the ships?" she asked between deep breaths.

The rebel was wearing a helmet that completely hid his face. He reached up and pulled his helmet off. As he did so, Padmé realized it was a two part helmet. There was still a part that covered his mouth. The helmet came completely off and the rebel tossed it to the side.

"Hello Padmé," the rebel said. His voice had come through a vocoder in the lower part of his helmet.

Padmé stared open mouthed at the man in front of her. "Rion?" she asked.

It was him. The last time she had seen him . . . she had to think. Was it in his cell? Right before Vader killed off the rest of her crew? No it wasn't. He had shown her a holo of him. He was in a coma, but he had prosthetics. She glanced down to his hand and foot. They were covered by gloves and boots, but clearly there. She did notice one hand was missing a finger. The glove had been sewn shut over the empty digit.

He looked well, but there were clear signs of his imprisonment. His tan skin was still an off-color. He looked thin. There were bags under his blood-shot eyes. His long black hair was tied back into ponytail like he used to wear it. There was a stubble beard growing in. His dark eyes seemed a bit lifeless.

"Yes, it's me," Rion replied. Padmé realized he was speaking through the vocoder because . . . because he didn't have a tongue. Vader's voice pierced through her mind, "Cut out the man's tongue. Maybe that will teach my wife to be careful when she speaks." How had she felt guilty about leaving Vader? How had she forgot how cruel he had been as he manipulated her into being whatever he wanted.

"How . . . how?" Padmé found it was the only thing she could ask.

"Master Kenobi's rebel cell saved me," he explained. "They infiltrated the Devastator. They were able to free me and Bail Organa."

She recalled Obi-Wan's plan. "We needed to do something that would cause Vader to personally come back here," he had said. So they had freed Rion and Bail. She recalled Vader's confrontation in the bathroom after he found the stolen com unit. After the rebels had successfully infiltrated Vader's personal ship, most likely the ship he was on, and rescued prisoners, he had come straight to his family fearing they would be taken next. Well, Padmé mused. His fear wasn't misplaced.

"I'm . . . I'm glad they got you free," she said softly. "I'm sorry . . . about it all. About what happened. I truly am."

He tensed up. His face scrunched up into a snarl. His shoulders raised up. She noticed his eyes no longer seemed as lifeless as they had before. There was something in them now. A fire. An anger.

"Sorry?" he asked. "You're sorry? That's all you have to say?"

"What else do you want me to say?" she asked. "I never wanted any of this. I tried to get you free."

A strange laugh came out of his vocoder. "Wonderful job of that," he said darkly.

"You're here, aren't you?" she snapped back. "You're here because I finally got a call out to Obi-Wan. You could still be back on that ship."

"I could be back on my own ship if it weren't for you!" he shouted back. "I wasted so much of my time with you. I thought . . . I thought loved me. I knew you had a hard time getting over whatever happened in your past, but I never imagined you were getting over kriffin Darth Vader. Were you ever going to mention that to me? That was why he was so obsessed with you! Why he chased you non-stop. We all just thought he was obsessed with taking down the rebellion. No. He wanted you. His wife."

"What did you want me to say?" she asked back. "Do you know what people would do with the information? I already bad people hunting me down due to Vader's bounty. I didn't need to add rebels hunting me down over some vendetta to get back at Vader."

"You could have told me!" he shouted. His vocoder got a bit static filled. "You could have trusted me! Our crew! We supported you! In the end you screwed us all over. They're dead. Everyone is dead, because of you!" He pointed a finger at her. "And I've been tortured. Maimed. Jailed. Because of my association with you."

The two glared at each other. A horrible part inside of Padmé, which she swore was in the voice of Vader, whispered at how ungrateful he was. He knew nothing of what she had done for him. What she had done to keep him alive. His situation could be far worse.

"This isn't the time for this," she said. "We have to get to the ship. I need to get back to my children."

An odd laugh came out of his vocoder. "Your little sithspawn," he said darkly.

She glared back at him. "They," she said lowering her voice, "are the ones truly innocent in all of this. I won't see them turned into monsters like their father. Hate me all you want, I deserve it, I won't lie, but do not punish my children."

"Yes they will be better off without their father," Rion said, "Or their mother."

"What?" Padmé asked breathlessly. "What did you just say?" A sharp coldness was making its way up to her heart. She glanced around the hangar. The empty hangar. "What have you done?" she whispered. "What have you done? Where are my children?" Her voice had raised as she continued to talk. She was now shouting. "Where is the ship?"

She turned sharply on her heels back towards the way they had come, but she felt Rion grab her arm.

"They're gone," he said. "Or will be soon."

She whipped her body back at him. Her eyes glared at him.

"They never planned on bringing you along," he said.

"You were a distraction!" she said.

"No, Padmé, you are," he said.

She paused confused at his words. What did that mean? How was she a distraction? She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn't notice the knife until a second before it came down on her. She brought her hand up, and the blade went into her hand. She screamed as she pulled her hand away. At once she was clinging her bleeding hand to her chest. She stepped away from Rion who held a bloody knife.

"We're going to have to do better than that to get Vader to run to his little whore," he hissed. He reassured his grip on the knife and charged at Padmé.

At once she thought back to her combat training. She would need all she had to get out of this. There was no way in all nine hells was she letting anyone get away with her children. Padmé grit her teeth and focused on pushing the pain of her hand away. She shifted her footing as Rion lunged at her. She was able to dodge and bring up her good hand into a strike against his back. He stumbled forward. She wasted no time in swinging her leg around in a kick to push him over.

Rion sprawled on to the ground. The knife was still tight in his grip, but Padmé ignored it. She ran to the staircase. She was almost to the door when she let out a small scream as something sharp stung into her right thigh. The pain caused her to fall to her knees. She twisted to see a small dart stuck in her leg. She ripped it out and threw it on the floor. She glanced back to see Rion coming to his feet. A small blaster in his hand. He tossed it to the ground.

She stood up but as soon as she did she felt dizzy. She cursed to herself as she realized that dart must have drugged her. She had to get away. She had to get to Luke and Leia and fast. She turned and started to stumble back towards the door and the stairs. Yet she was too slow. Rion caught up to her. He grabbed her hair and pulled her back. She slammed into the ground. Her body hurt and she saw spots swimming in her sight.

Rion was above her with the knife again. For a weird brief moment she wondered why he didn't just shoot her with a blaster, but then a cold realization hit. He was drawing this out. He was trying to get Vader to come.

"Don't do this, Rion," she said. "Vader will kill you the moment he gets here."

He stood over her now. A leg on either side of her. "I know," he said darkly. "I willingly agreed to this if it meant getting my revenge. I have nothing else to live for anyway."

A cold fear ran through her that quickly numbed her to everything. Everything in her yelled at her to run. She brought up her leg and aimed for his legs. She managed to get one good kick in before he stepped away. She attempted to scrambled back up, but found her body sluggish and slow. Rion kicked her back down.

She was a flash of silver as the knife came down. She rolled into his leg, but the knife was able to slice along her back. She opened her mouth to scream but instead she opened her mouth and bit his leg as hard as he could. He let out a weird mechanical scream and he stepped back. She rolled away, but kicked at her. His foot slide across her back and her new cut. The new wound burned and screamed in pain.

She let out an angry scream and fought back the pain. She wasn't going to let him win, but he was coming at her again. The knife held up. She took a deep steadying breath. She needed to time herself right. She hoped, she prayed to all of her gods, her body reacted properly. That her adrenaline was pushing the drugs aside.

The knife came down, aimed right at her core. She brought her hands up and her knees. The knife dug into her thigh. It stung as it dragged through her skin. She kicked him off, but he quickly recovered. The knife was coming for again. She tried to block it, push it to the side with her good hand, but her move was too slow. The knife hit in the side. She could feel it push into one of her ribs.

Then a whole new fear hit her. The baby. The baby inside of her. If that knife had gone lower, it could have hit the baby. A whole new wave of strength came over her. With a scream she pushed herself up and jumped onto Rion. She grabbed at the hand holding the knife, pulling it above both of their heads. The two toppled over with Padmé on top. She was covered in her own blood, which made holding on to him a bit tricky, but she wasn't giving up.

The two fought for control for the blade. He kept trying to bring it down on her, but she was keeping a good grasp on his arm. Keeping that arm still up above them. Her other hand was wrestling with him. She was scratching him. Punching him. Pushing off his other arm. Doing anything she could do to keep him distracted. Then for a very clear moment she got control of his knife. She was able to steer his arm down onto him right into his shoulder. He let out a scream of pain.

He let go of the knife and Padmé grabbed it. She debated if she should attack him. Slice his throat open, but his stupid helmet and vocoder were protecting his neck. So she decided to run. She could feel the heat of her blood coming down her back and her leg. She limped to the door and then down the stairs. She could hear the pants and screams of Rion as he chased her.

She stumbled into the white hallway. Her hands catching the wall to help keep herself steady. She left trails of red along the walls as she pushed herself along. Then she tripped and fell forward. No, she thought. No. No. No! NO! She had to get up. She had to. She had to get to Luke and Leia. She had to protect her unborn child. She had to-

"You!" Rion shouted as he stepped on her foot.

She looked up at him. Blood had stained his shirt from his shoulder wound. Padme's own blood was smeared all over the rest of him from they had wrestled for the knife. "Please, Rion," she pleaded. "My babies." Her good hand still clutched the knife, but her bad hand, covered in blood, wrapped protectively around her stomach. He reached down and easily snatched the knife from her. "Rion," she pleaded again as tears stained her eyes. "Please don't do this. Please."

"This is what you deserve," Rion hissed through his vocoder.

That was when the red lightsaber tore through his chest. Rion looked down in surprise to see the red tip poking through him. He dropped the knife and it clattered to the ground. The lightsaber was pulled out, and Rion was pushed to the ground. Vader stood over Padmé. His lightsaber still in hand. Absolute rage filled his eyes as he glared down at Rion, but as his eyes came to Padmé, they quickly changed.

"Padmé!" Vader shouted. His lightsaber was deactivated. He was kneeling at her side at once. "Padmé!" he cried. His eyes moved over her body. She was covered in blood.

"No," she cried. Tears filled her eyes. "No. You must go. This is a distraction. They're taking the children!"

"Padmé," Vader said softly as his hand came under her shoulders and knees. He carefully picked her up and cradled her to her.

"The children," she cried. "You have to get to them. Please. Please." Her head rested against his chest. She slowly lost consciousness to the sounds of her begging for her children.

Chapter Text

Chapter 28: The Base

Luke awoke to dark gray walls. He rolled over in his bed and spotted Leia asleep in the bed across from his. This room was small and thin. Just enough for the two beds and a small walkway between them. At the foot of the bed was a cabinet for storing clothes and toys, though Luke only had two toys right now. He had been given a small spaceship and funny looking stuffed animal.

He kicked his sheets off of him and crawled out of bed. The floor was cold and felt a bit wet. Everything seemed to be wet here. He made his way out of the room. He softly padded down the hallway. He hated this place. They called it a base. There were no windows. Just the always wet floors and gray walls.

He even hated the adults here. They kept lying to him. Maybe they thought Luke was just a kid who wasn't smart enough to tell they were lying. But Luke was smart enough. They were lying to him. He kept asking about his mother. At first they said she was on another ship and would be joining them soon. Then they said she was keeping away the bad guys. Now they just said that Luke had to wait and be patient, which he hated hearing.

He remembered leaving that white place with the pretty rocks. He was on the spaceship when he felt his mother. She was really scared, and that made him scared. Luke could also feel his father, who was angry. Really really angry. Angier than that time Luke and Leia had snuck out down the big turbolift to find Leia's other parents and Luke's aunt and uncle. But father had also been scared. It was buried under a lot of anger, but it was there. That also made Luke scared. Why were his parents scared?

Luke really, really missed his mother. She was so nice and pretty. She held him and kissed him and played with him. She also didn't lie to Luke. Or at least lie about important things. She would lie that there was no more fruit to eat, but that was a small lie. His mother had told Luke all about his father. How Father had a good person and a bad person inside of him. Luke missed his father too, but only the good father. Not the bad one. That one was scary and cold. But . . . right now Luke would rather be with the bad scary father than be in this stupid base place.

Luke walked down the hall towards the refresher, but he didn't go in it. He heard voices coming from down the hall. One voice sounded like . . . sounded like father. Scary father, but father. He quietly walked down to a large open room. Luke spent a lot of time here playing with Leia. The adults called it the common room. He wasn't sure why they just didn't call it a living room. It looked like a living room. Just a really big living room with lots of couches and tables. Luke peeked around the wall into the room.

The common room was mostly empty save for a group of adults sitting towards the back. Luke got his knees and crawled forward. The other sofas were hiding Luke as long as he stayed small. He crawled along the sofa and under an end table. He peeked at the people sitting and standing near a table. On the table was a holoprojector. The projector was showing a blue holograph of a man that Luke instantly recognized as his father. Father looked angry. Luke tried to focus on what his father was saying.

"- traitorous rebels shall be rooted out," father said. His voice was hard and cold. "I implore all good citizens of the Empire to report suspicious behavior to the nearest Imperial garrison or comm the displayed frequency."

Luke frowned. He didn't know what his father was talking about. He had hoped he would be talking about Luke going home or mother coming here. Luke sat quietly watching the blue hologram of his father. Every now and then Luke would glance up at the adults to see if he had been spotted, but he hadn't. They were all watching the holograph. The adults were all different types. Some looked human, some didn't. The adults would talk to each other and say bad words Aunt Beru had said that Luke should never say.

"That karking piece of sithspit," one adult grumbled.

"And people just eat his words up," came another voice. "Believe any shavit he spits out."

The blue holograph of Father changed. It showed a woman kneeling on the ground. Her hands were behind her back. Her long dark hair fell loosely down her shoulders. She looked sad and angry. Luke started listening again when he heard the word Alderaan. That was the place Leia was from. She talked about it a lot.

"Breha Organa, Queen of Alderaan, you shall be executed for your crimes of being a rebel and traitor to the Empire," came the voice of Luke's father. His father talked some more but Luke was staring at the woman. Luke frowned. There was something about her. Something that tickled Luke's brain. Like he had seen her before but couldn't remember where.

The holograph zoomed out. The woman was sitting on a platform. Father was standing nearby. There were lots of people standing around the platform shouting. They seemed angry. They didn't like this woman.

"Traitor!" one voice shouted.

"Kill her!"

"Rebel scum!"

Luke watched as his father pulled out the metal tube off his belt. Luke had sometimes seen the metal tube, but didn't know what it was. A bright light shout out of the tube. It looked like a laser coming out of the tube, like a laser sword. That was pretty cool. Father slowly walked towards the woman with his glowing laser sword. Once he stood next to her, he raised the sword up and swung it down. It slashed right through the woman's neck causing her head to fall off. The people around the platform cheered. The adults watching the hologram cursed.

"Did Bail see this?" asked one of the adults.

"Of course he saw this," replied another.

"Poor guy. How's he taking it?" asked a third.

"How do you think?"

"He's been in his bunk since he saw it."

"Alone?"

"No, a few people went in to check on him. Though probably wants his space."

One of the adults walked over the projector and turned it off. Luke decided it was time to go back to his bed before any of the adults saw him. He made it back to his room. Leia was still asleep on her bed as Luke crawled back into his.

He remembered one of the names the adults had said was Bail. That was Leia's father. Her other father. He was here. Leia was so happy to see him. She cried the first time she saw him. Luke was happy for her, but it also made him miss Mother and Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen and even Father. He had mentioned it to Leia once.

Leia looked over at him and gave him a face. "I don't miss them at all," she said. Luke frowned. She was lying. It was a small lie. She did miss them or maybe she just missed Mother.

Luke had met Bail, Leia's other father. She called him Papa. He was nice. Luke was sure he made a nice father, but he wasn't . . . he wasn't Luke's father. The one who played starships with him or even took him flying on a real starship. The one who picked him off the floor, twirled him around, threw him up in the air, caught him and hugged him tight.

The next day Luke and Leia were playing the common room when Leia's papa walked over. His face was all red and long and sad. Luke could feel the sadness coming off of him. Bail took Leia away saying the two needed to talk. Luke had a feeling it was about something sad, and that Leia would be sad later. This left him alone with his one starship toy and his odd stuff animal. He played quietly by himself for a while until an adult walked up to him.

"Hello Luke," a man said. Luke looked up to see it was the man that his mother knew. They had met on the place with the pretty rocks. He was tall, but not as tall as Father. He had red hair and wore long white robes. It made Luke think the man might be from Tatooine.

"Hello . . . um . . ."

"Obi-Wan Kenobi," the man said when he realized Luke couldn't remember his name.

"Obi-Won," Luke mumbled. The man smiled.

"Tell me, young one, you look sad," Obi-Wan said as he sat down next to Luke.

"I miss my mother," Luke said softly. "Do you know when I'm going to see her?"

The man's face got all scrunched up as he thought about what Luke said. "I don't know when you'll see her again," Obi-Wan said. His words were soft.

"Why not?" Luke asked. "Can't you just comm her? Please?"

Obi-Wan sighed. "I know you miss her, Luke. I know it's hard to understand why you were taken away from her."

Luke had stopped listening to the man for a moment. Taken? Taken away from mother? Something cold ran through Luke. He realized the man was still speaking.

"But it was dangerous there. I don't think you realize how dangerous it was. It was very important we get you somewhere safe," Obi-Wan explained.

Luke nodded his head. "'Cuse me," he mumbled and grabbed his toys and ran out of the common room to his room down the hall. He jumped on his bed and crawled under the covers. Luke suddenly recalled something Father had said when Luke was in his father's work room. Luke had asked about seeing his aunt.

"I said I work to keep the galaxy safe, yes? I'm afraid your aunt and uncle were helping a bad man. A very dangerous and bad man. He's responsible for a lot of bad things. I'm trying to find him. That man would try to take you away from me. He would try to take Leia and your mother away too. I'm trying to keep you all safe."

Luke had thought . . . Luke was sure his father wasn't telling the truth. There was no way his aunt and uncle helped bad people. They just didn't. But . . . but maybe Father was at least right about the dangerous man who had taken Luke and Leia away. Luke curled up into a ball and squeezed his eyes shut.

His missed Mother so much. If she was here, he would go to her and she would hug and kiss him and hold him. He thought really hard about her. Maybe he could find her, but he couldn't. Yet if couldn't find Mother, maybe he could find Father. Luke focused on Father. He thought really hard. Really, really, really hard. It was like digging through lots of sand. No matter how much sand you pushed away, more sand just came tumbling back down on you. But there was something just there. Just through the sand. Something cold.

Luke?

It was a whisper. Luke barely heard it. He almost let go, but thankfully he didn't. The voice came again.

Luke?

It was hard to hear the voice. It was muffled. As if the voice was from another room and coming through a wall.

"Fa-father?" Luke whispered.

The coldness Luke had felt pushed its way through the sand. Luke tried to pull away, but it wrapped around him.

Luke!

"Father?" the boy asked again. Luke grabbed at his bed sheets, ready to pull them down, but he already knew. His father wasn't here. He wasn't in the room.

Yes, Luke.

"Where are you?" Luke asked. "I want to go back. I don't like it here. I want Mother."

Father didn't answer immediately. Luke could sense sadness from the coldness, but there was a flicker of heat. Of anger.

Tell me where you are Luke, and I will come bring you home.

"I'm in a stupid base place," Luke replied.

Yes, but where is it? Do know what planet? What system?

"I . . . I . . ." Luke could feel the tears starting to well in his eyes. "I don't know," he cried. "I don't know."

Luke. Luke. Calm down. It's alright. Father said in a soothing voice.

"No it's not!" Luke shouted. "I hate it here! I want Mother! I want you!"

Shhhh. Shhhhh. Father said. I know it's scary, but you're being so brave young one. Don't worry. I'll come and bring you home soon.

"When-when?" Luke said between a sob.

Soon . . . Father's voice was fading away.

"Father?" Luke asked. "Father?"

But there was nothing. Not even the coldness. He was alone. Luke grabbed his pillow and cried himself to sleep.

 


 

"Bail?" Mon Mothma asked as Bail walked into the conference room. In his arms he carried his daughter Leia.

"I'm sorry," he said. His voice was ragged and course. "I told her the news . . . and she just didn't want to leave me."

Mon along with the others of the Alliance High Command all nodded knowingly. Leia looked around at them. They all knew. They all knew her mama was dead. Papa had told her earlier that Mama had died. When Leia asked how and why, Papa said she died protecting Leia. That was all Papa would tell her.

Bail walked over to a chair in the back and placed Leia down. "Remember what we talked about?" he whispered. "I'll be right over there. You have to sit here and be quiet." Leia nodded. She didn't want to leave her papa right now, but he had to come this meeting. Bail straightened up and walked over to the rest of the group. They were gathered around a large holotable.

Leia looked at the group. She of course knew her papa and she recognized Mr. Kenobi and Senator Mothma as well. The rest were mostly human, but there were a few aliens. Two of which were Mon . . . Mon . . . Mon Calamen. Leia nodded to herself. Two of the people were blue holographs.

"How are you doing?" someone asked.

"I am . . ." Leia's father said. "I am managing." Papa's voice was full of sadness and pain. The others in the group nodded their heads.

"Sorry to call you like this," said one man. He was one of the blue holograph people. "But you needed to be here Organa."

"I understand," Bail replied.

"I'm glad to you safe Organa, but I'll be blunt," the holograph man continued. "The Emperor is out of blood. Whatever you did in the Velm system has left him pissed. He's placed a high bounty on you and Kenobi."

The large holograph table lit up. Two blue holograms slowly spun above the table. It showed a picture of Leia's father and Mr. Kenobi. Attached to their picture was a number. It was a very long number with lots of zeroes.

"Kriff," someone said softly.

"That's a very generous bounty," Senator Mothma said.

The blue holograph man laughed. "Generous? That's putting it lightly. If someone cashed in on that bounty I'm no sure how Vader would get the credits. You could buy a planet with those two bounties combined."

"Alive only . . ." Mr. Kenobi said softly while he stroked his beard. "Has Vader put anything out on the twins?"

"Luckily nothing official or on the black market," came a new voice. It was female, but it wasn't Senator Mothma. Leia leaned to the side of her seat, but couldn't tell who was speaking. "However there is another development."

The blue holograph man spoke up again. "The Emperor has placed a reward for any information regarding known rebels and their families. He's capturing families who are tied to rebels. This message is then sent to the rebel."

The two images of Papa and Mr. Kenobi disappeared from the large hologram table. Instead it was a picture of him. The Emperor. Leia's other father.

"To the rebel receiving this message," the Emperor said in his mean voice. "Your family has been captured. In two standard weeks they'll be executed for treason. If you wish to see your family alive, then turn yourself over to an Imperial Garrison."

"Kriffing all nine hells," someone whispered.

"However I am a generous man. If you provide information on Obi-Wan Kenobi or Bail Organa, then your family will be freed from imprisonment. If you provide information on these two children . . ." A still image of Leia and Luke flicked onto the holograph. "I will release all rebel families. All charges will be erased."

The blue holograph of the Emperor disappeared. The room was quiet, but several people exchanged looks with one another. A few looked over at Leia.

"How many confirmed families does he have?" Mr. Kenobi asked.

"We don't know," replied the female voice from earlier. "We don't keep track of all our agents' families."

"Has anyone from this base been targeted?" Senator Mothma asked.

"Again," the woman replied, "We don't know."

"A few agents have come forward," a new voice sounded. It was a man. He stood next to Senator Mothma. He was old with white hair. "That is why we know of this. We need to decide how to handle this. We can make an official announcement throughout the Alliance, asking for any agents involved to step forward but . . ."

"It will spread paranoia," a new voice said.

"Vader's favorite weapon is fear," Mr. Kenobi said. "It's a well played move, as much as I hate to admit it. It strikes at the very core of the Alliance, our members. Those who aren't affected will fear they may be next, and may leave the Alliance to protect their families. Those whose families have been taken may also leave the Alliance. And Vader knows there is no way we can save every family. When members approach us for help, we will have to decline. Which will only drive more into Vader's hand than ours. Thus the best thing for the Alliance to do is to hand the children back over to him."

A heavy silence fell across the group. Then they started whispering to one another. This talking went on for several minutes before Senator Mothma called for silence.

"Regardless of what we decide," Mothma said, "Bail, Kenobi, and the twins need to be moved to a safe and secure location. A location that is highly classified. And we'll need to act fast. Get you on a ship today or tomorrow if possible."

"We should plan to abandon this base," a gruff man's voice said. A few people nodded their heads.

"Is there no way to appease Vader?" one voice asked. "Couldn't we give one of the children back? The boy?"

A few people shifted around uncomfortably. Mr. Kenobi spoke up again. "Vader will never be satisfied with only one child. Plus it's far too dangerous for him to get his hand on either one. Both children are very strong in the Force. If Vader turns trains them into Sith, I fear the galaxy will be forever tainted in the Dark Side for decades to come. Training the children in the Light Side is our only hope to truly defeat Vader."

"So you're saying we just wait around for another ten, fifteen years, Kenobi?" one annoyed voice asked.

"Would you want a little Vader running around the galaxy?" came the female voice from earlier. "Two of them? Look at the harm Vader does by himself. Imagine that doubled or tripled."

"I am with Kenobi on this," Senator Mothma said. "I may not know much about the Force, the Jedi, and the Sith. But I do believe it is for the best that Vader does not get his hands on the children."

Leia had listening very carefully. They were clearly talking about her and Luke about going back to that man. She was glad some people didn't want her to go back. Leia didn't want to go back. Her birth father was scary and mean and he hurt Papa. But Leia did miss her birth mother. She wasn't Leia's mama, but Mother was nice.

"What about the baby?" Leia asked.

Everyone in the group turned to Leia.

"Baby?" Papa asked.

"The one in my birth mother's tummy," Leia explained.

Several people in the group exchanged looks and whispered to each other.

"Padme's pregnant?" Mr. Kenobi asked.

Leia nodded. "She got sick and went to see a doctor. Then she told me and Luke she got sick because there was a baby in her."

"What happened to Amidala in Velm?" someone asked. Leia saw that it was one of the Mon Calamen.

"She got separated from the group when troopers arrived at the hangar," Mr. Kenobi explained. "We were forced to leave without her. I assume she's in Vader's custody again."

"What does it matter?" The person who asked was the same person who suggested giving Luke back over to the Emperor. Leia decided she did not like this man. "Are we going to kidnap every child the Emperor has? Clearly he can go around impregnating whoever he wants. Can't stop him from doing that. For all we know he could have banged out multiple children by now."

"I highly doubt that," Mr. Kenobi said softly to himself.

"You can't seriously think the Emperor is faithful to Amidala? There have been numerous reports of his escapades when Amidala was actively part of the Alliance."

"Which I think he did to make Padme mad," Mr. Kenobi argued. "To hopefully cause her to slip up. I don't see him having children with anyone but his wife."

"If Padme is with Vader," Bail spoke up for the first time, "I don't know if we'll be able to get to her or this new child. The past four years, and especially the last few months, haven proven one thing. Vader is very focused on his family. He sees them as his rightful property, and he's ready to go to extremes to get them back. I doubt he will allow himself to be lax in his security surrounding his family again. He does learn from his mistakes."

"If we can't get them out, we could always eliminate the threat," came a quiet voice. All the heads of the group turned towards someone on the far side of the holograph table. Leia couldn't see who it was.

"You don't mean," Senator Mothma said softly.

"If it that big of a threat to the galaxy then . . . I'm just saying it's a lot easier to slip some poison into a cup then to extract someone."

"You mean to kill Amidala?"

"Possibly . . . or at least cause her to miscarry and become sterile."

"We are not the Empire," Mothma said. She stood tall with her head raised. "This is not how we do things. Right now we are getting off focus. What we need to do is to focus on what to do about our current problems."

"Please not like the Alliance hasn't played dirty before," a voice grumbled. Yet everyone else ignored him and went on to talking about the Emperor and rebel families.

 


 

Luke finally saw Leia again at dinner. She had been gone all day. They were in the mess hall, which was a big room full of tables. The food wasn't good. It always looked gray and blobby. Luke didn't like it. Even the food on Tatooine was better than this.

"Where did you go?" Luke asked his sister.

"I was with my papa," Leia said. Neither one said anything as they poked at the food on their trays. Leia spoke up again, "I saw a holograph of . . . of Father."

Luke looked up. "I did too!"

Leia looked surprised. "You did?"

"Yes! He was on a platform with lots of angry people around him. He had a laser sword."

"Hmmm. That's not what I saw."

"What did you see?"

"He was angry that we were gone. He took some people's families. He said if they wanted their families back, then they would have to give us back to him."

Leia frowned as she glared at her food. She clearly did not like this idea.

"Oh . . ." Was all Luke could say.

Leia said, "Plus the big group said they wouldn't give us back." She sounded pleased.

"Oh." Again silence fell between the brother and sister. "I hate this place," Luke said softly. "I just want to go back. To Mother."

"Well we're going to be leaving soon," Leia said.

"Leaving? To Mother?"

"No. Just somewhere new."

"Do you know where are now?" Luke asked. "Like what planet?"

"Some place called Sump," Leia said.

"Do you know where we're going?" Luke asked carefully.

Leia shrugged. "I think they said a planet called Kwenn."

Luke pursed his lips to avoid the smile threatening to come out.

Chapter Text

Chapter 29: The Space Station

Leia watched as the door closed and heard the soft click of the lock. Papa and Mr. Kenobi had left Luke and her alone in the apartment. They had left the damp Sump base a few days ago. There had been a long flight in a small spaceship until they reached this huge space station.

It looked like a floating castle. Or a cake. Or a floating castle space station cake. The whole thing was round and had different tiers. The top part appeared to be that of a city with towering and large buildings. The middle section was just a bunch of lights and viewports. The bottom part was big and open, which allowed really big ships to dock there. It was shaped like a hexagon. (Leia was a really smart girl. She had already learned her shapes.) About three big ships could fit in there. There was one large ship there already. It was one of those white pointy ships that she had been on when she was with her birth mother and father.

Leia had hoped that when they left Sump that the new place would be nice with grass. But it wasn't nice. It wasn't as wet as Sump had been, but the place they were staying in was small and brown and dirty. Everything was dirty. The furniture was torn and ragged. The walls had peeling paint. Even Leia's clothes were dirty looking though Papa promised they were clean. Papa said they needed to 'blend in' and 'stay hidden.'

Papa and had changed how they looked. Mr. Kenobi had shaved all of his hair off. He had no beard or hair on his head. He looked really funny. He didn't wear his soft robes anymore either. Instead he wore plastoid armor and leather. Papa had also shaved off his beard, but luckily not his hair. She thought he already looked funny enough without the beard. Papa had always had a beard. But he had also changed the color of his to blond. It was darker than Luke's hair, but still much brighter than his brown hair from before.

With Papa and Mr. Kenobi gone, it was now just Luke and Leia. Luke sighed and sat back on the floor of the small dirty living room next to his toys. He didn't seem like he was in the mood to play with Leia. She debated on what she could do. She could work on her lessons Papa had given her or read a book.

That was when she felt the soft breeze in her hair. She whipped her head around, but there was no wind. The apartment had windows but they looked out to space and couldn't open. The door was still locked and closed. And yet she felt a soft touch in her hair. It almost felt like someone was gently stroking her hair. She had felt this same strange sensation when they came out of hyperspace right outside the space station. But like back then, there was no one around her and no wind. It was odd.

Shaking her head she crawled up on the threadbare couch where her datapad was. She brought up one of her math lessons, but found she really wasn't paying attention.

"Leia?" Luke asked.

She looked up to see her brother staring at her. She was about to ask what he wanted when she felt something. It started low inside of her and started to rise rather fast. Her heart started to beat really fast. Something in her ear seemed to whisper, 'Danger.' She looked around and noticed Luke was doing the same. He felt it too.

She slid off the couch and walked over to him. The two grabbed hands and continued to look around the room. There was nothing there, but yet the bad feeling didn't go away. That was when they heard the soft sounds on the other side of the door. They both heard it. They both squeezed their hands tighter. The sounds didn't stop. Slowly the two approached the door so they could hear better.

Yes, there was someone on the other side of the door. Leia tugged on Luke's hand. They should go hide. She didn't think this was Papa or Mr. Kenobi coming back. The soft sound of the door unlocking was heard. Luke pulled Leia under the small table that sat right next to the door. They both curled themselves up to be as small and tight as possible. The door slid open. After a short pause Leia saw two thin legs with tall boots walk into the room. Shortly after two very mechanical legs of a droid walked in. Leia barely got a look of a woman and a droid walking into the room, before Luke tugged at her. He pulled her out from under the table and out the door.

The door of the apartment slid close with a soft swoosh. The two just stood there half expecting it to open back up and the woman and the droid to come out. But nothing happened. So hand and hand they trotted down the hall to the turbolift. Leia pulled at her itchy clothes. Like Luke's, they were brown and gray. Luke kept glancing over his shoulder to the door of their apartment. The door was still close. The woman and the droid were still inside.

The turbolift doors open and closed with the twins inside. They rode down to the lobby. This was only their second time in the lobby. The only other time before was when they first arrived at the space station. They exited the lift and walked across the silent lobby. It was small and filled with mismatched chairs. Some of which were broken. No one else was there, and so the children were able to exit the building with no problems.

As they walked down the small alleyway towards the bigger road, Leia felt that strange feeling again. The breeze was back. But this time it wasn't as soft or gentle. 'Stop!' The air seemed to be pushing on her. Luke looked around wildly and struggled as well. The two took a step back and at once the sensation disappeared. The children shared a silent glance at the other.

Red and blue lights flashed around them as a speeder lowered itself down into the alley. A white and black humanoid droid stepped out of the speeder. The droid held a blaster in its hands as it walked up to the twins.

"Children," it said in a robotic voice. "Where are your parental units?"

Luke and Leia shared another look. What were they going to say?

"Kwenn Space Section Code 75-28.04 states that all minors under the age of ten be accompanied by an adult of maturity age," the droid rattled on. "You two are not ten. Where is your parental or caregiver unit?"

Before either child could say anything, footsteps were heard running up behind them. Leia turned to see a woman running up to them. "Officer!" she cried out. "I'm so sorry! They got away from me."

"Are you the parental or caregiver unit of these children?" the droid asked.

"Yes. I'm their babysitter," she said as she handed over a datapad to the officer. The officer looked at the datapad for just a brief glimpse before it handed the pad back to the woman. The droid gave the woman a reminder of the code, got back into his speeder with the red and blue flashing lights, and left.

Leia looked up at the woman. She was a human with dark skin and dark hair that was done in many thick braids. When she looked down at Leia, she had bright yellow-green eyes that almost seemed to glow in the darkness of the alleyway. Leia couldn't hold the woman's gaze so she looked down. That was when she noticed the thin legs and the tall boots. The very same she had seen in the apartment.

The woman moved faster than Leia could keep track. Her hands grabbed the outside arm of each twin. Leia and Luke both let out a small yelp of pain. White teeth showed as the woman smiled at the scared children. "Hello there young ones," she said in a voice that sounded sweet but it wasn't. The woman's grip was tight and it hurt. At once both children tried to pull away but the grip was too hard. It wasn't long before the sound of a speeder was heard over the small grunts and yelps of the twins. A speeder landed right next to them. A tall skinny droid exited it.

"Os-Seven," the woman said. "Help me get them in the speeder."

The droid said nothing. It had several red optical lenses on its head that pointed in different directions, but the biggest one was focused on the children. The droid grabbed both of Luke's arms and hoisted the boy up.

"No!" Luke cried.

"Luke!" Leia shouted out as the woman grabbed her.

The droid threw Luke into the backseat of the speeder. Leia was thrown on top of him. Before the twins could sort themselves out, the speeder was in the air. The woman was driving and the droid was in the passenger front seat. It's large red optical lense was focused on the children. By the time the children crawled to the side of the speeder, they were already dashing through traffic.

"It's me," the woman said. Leia looked over to see the woman speaking into a comm link. "I've got the kids. Yes, they're safe. Nothing happened to them." A pause. "We'll be there soon."

Luke and Leia settled into the backseat side by side. They again wrapped their hands into one other, squeezing the other's hand tightly. Leia could feel her brother trembling slightly. The droid's large lense was still focused on them. Leia hated this. She wanted to be back in the apartment. She wanted to be with her papa or Mr. Kenobi. She wanted to be with her mama or even her birth mother.

Then there was that feeling again. The soft breeze rustling through her hair. It made her think of her mama and her mother. How they would stroke her hair when she had nightmares and tell Leia everything would be ok. She fought back a sob that was growing deep in her throat. She just wanted to go home. To Alderaan. She wanted to be away from stupid space ports and stupid ships and stupid bases. She just wanted to be home.

The speeder slowly started to descend. Leia didn't bother crawling to the side, but Luke did. The speeder sat down in front of large rectangular building with many large doors. Again Leia was grabbed by the woman and Luke by the droid. A steel grip held Leia by her upper arm. The droid and the woman pulled the children into the large building through a small door. They dragged them down a long hallway into a small, dark, gray room. The woman and the droid finally let go of the children. Leia tried to kick the woman, but the woman had stepped away.

"We're here," the woman said into her comm link.

"I want to go home!" Leia shouted. The woman looked over at the girl scowled. "I want my papa! Take me back!" The dark-skinned woman only looked down at the child in annoyance and disgust. Leia pursed her lips as she tried to think of what to do next. She could run up to the woman and kick and punch her. Maybe that might make her fall over. But then what about the droid? It stood quietly off to the side. It's large lense focused on Leia. She huffed at it.

A door slid into the room slid open with a soft woosh. Leia hadn't turn her attention away from the droid when she heard a new voice.

"Leia?" came a woman's voice.

Leia at once whipped around. It couldn't be! Her eyes went wide as she saw the woman who walked in. Her brown hair was pulled up into a loose brown bun on top of her head. She wore a simple grey jumpsuit. Leia at once was running across the room with her arms wide open.

"Mama!" she shouted as she jumped into the arms of Breha Organa.

 


 

Something soft and cold rustled Luke's hair. He woke up. He was still on the hard floor where he had fallen asleep. Leia's mama had put a blanket down for him and Leia to sleep on. After she had shown up, the bad lady and her droid left. Leia's mama was very nice. She brought the twins to this room. It had lots of desks with glowing buttons and terminals and view screens. Leia's mama gave the children some warm blue milk and put the blanket on the floor. She said they should try to sleep.

Luke got up and looked around the room. There was no sign of Leia's mama, but he heard her voice. It sounded odd. He listened.

"It was a fake!" she said.

"Breha, are you sure?" a man's voice said. One that sounded like Leia's papa. That was when Luke noticed two figures in one of the large view screens. It was Leia's mama and papa. Luke walked over to a chair in front of a desk and climbed on. He was barely aware of Leia calling his name sleepily as she woke up.

"Vader faked my death," Leia's mama said.

"How did you escape?" Bail asked.

"When you got free of the Devastator, there were a group of Rebels who got seperated from Obi-Wan. When Vader left the ship, they were able to free me."

"But how are you on Kwenn?"

"Kwenn isn't that far from the Velm system. It was decided it would be a good safe place to hide. I see I was not the only one who thought that. When you contacted the Rebel base here, I recognized your voice at once. I knew it was you."

Leia climbed into the seat with Luke. The two children barely just fit into the chair.

"Mama and papa," Leia said.

Luke nodded and looked at the viewscreen. The two were hugging, but something didn't seem right. He looked hard at the view screen. That was when he realized where he had seen Leia's mama before. He had seen her on that hologram with Father in it. She had been the lady that lost her head! Luke glanced over at Leia and decided to keep that information to himself for now. But that wasn't what was bothering him now.

Something else was off. There was a lie here. Where Luke didn't know. But it was just like back on the base when the adults would lie to him about his mother. Something wasn't right here. The hair on the back of Luke's neck stood on end as he watched.

"Leia is safe," Bail said as the two parted after their hug.

"Is she?" Breha asked.

"Yes, yes of course she is!"

"Then why is she here?"

"What? What do you mean? Breha?"

"Two bounty hunters were paid by some Rebel to get the children. Apparently Vader has been capturing Rebel families and threatening them. He would release the families if the Rebels told them about you, Obi-Wan, or the twins' locations. The Rebels here didn't recognize you with your beard shaved off and your hair dyed, so they didn't know it was you. But they did recognize the children. I paid them off to bring the children to me instead . . . I sold off my wedding ring . . ."

There was a moment of quiet as Bail and Breha stood staring at each other. Bail turned sharply away from Breha. He marched to the other side of the room, out of view from the camera, and then marched back.

"Where is she? Where is Leia? Where is Luke?"

"They're sleeping and safe," Breha said calmly.

"But where?" Bail shouted. Leia jumped slightly next to Luke.

"Is . . . is something the matter, Bail?" Breha asked. Luke leaned forward. Had it been his imagination? Had he seen something off with the view screen? For a moment it appeared as if the image jumped.

"I need to get Leia," Bail said. Luke was watching closely to Bail's mouth. Did his mouth match up to the word he was saying? Luke wasn't sure.

"I just told you she is safe. Let her rest," Breha pleaded.

"No!" Bail shouted. Luke frowned. The voice sounded like he was shouting in anger, but his face . . . his face looked more like fear. "Leia . . . Luke . . . where are they? I must find them! They are our only hope to kill Vader!"

Kill Vader? Kill his father? Why would Luke do that?

"Leia is just a child! So is Luke!"

"No! They are weapons! Tools!" Bail hissed. Luke barely missed it, but this time it was there. A jump in the screen. The lips not matching up to what was being said. Luke looked over at Leia to point this out, but Leia was leaning forward on the edge of the chair. Her eyes wide and mouth slightly open as she watched the view screen.

"Leia is our daughter!" Breha cried. "We love her! You love her!"

"How can I love that thing?" Bail hissed. "When she's the daughter of that monster?"

Leia let out a gasp. "Papa . . ." she said softly.

"Leia . . ." Luke said. "I don't . . . There is something wrong . . . There is a lie . . . I just don't know where." It was true. He didn't know where there was a lie. But there was here. Where was it?

"Bail . . ." Leia's mama said softly. Leia didn't seem to be listening to Luke.

"And one of these days she'll turn into a monster just like Emperor Vader," Bail said.

"How could you?" Breha asked. She wiped at her eyes as if knocking away tears.

"Tell me where she is Breha!" Leia's papa shouted.

"No . . . not when you're like this," Breha said.

"Tell me!" Bail shouted. He brought out a blaster and aimed it at Breha. "Breha," he hissed. "Tell where that little whelp is."

"I can't," Breha said. "I won't."

"Papa! Mama!" Leia cried.

"Breha . . ." Bail said. It sounded pained. "Please don't make me do this." This wasn't a lie. This was the truth! Luke leaned forward. He just didn't know. It was all too confusing. Sometimes there was a lie and sometimes there wasn't.

"Bail!" Breha shouted. A red beam of light shot through across the view screen.

"Mama!" Leia cried. Breha laid still on the ground. Bail looked down at the woman. Then he tucked his blaster away and ran from the room. "Mama!" Leia cried again. She jumped out of the chair and ran to the door. Luke scurried after her.

"Leia!" Luke cried, but Leia had hit the door panel button. The door slid open, and she was running down the hall.

"Mama!" she cried. "Mama!"

"Leia!" Luke called as he ran after her.

Then there was a high pitched scream of a desperate and sad, "Mama!" Luke reached the room to see Leia's mama lying still on the floor. Leia threw herself on to the body. "Mama," Leia cried. "Mama."

Luke slowly walked up and knelt down next to Leia and Breha. He gently touched Breha's face. She was cold. Very cold. And pale. That wasn't right. People weren't supposed to be this cold or pale. Her eyes were open and glassy. She was dead. Luke could feel it. She didn't feel like Luke or Leia did. She was empty. Gone.

Tears started to well up in Luke's eyes as well. Why was this happening? Why did Leia's mama have to die?

"Luke? Leia?"

Luke lifted his head and even though his vision was blurry, he recognized the figure at once. His was up at once and running across the room. "Father!" he cried as he flung his arms around his father's waist and buried his head into his father's side.

Father knelt down and pulled Luke into a hug. "I'm here," Father said softly as he kissed Luke's head. "I told you I would come to you. I'm here."

"Father!" Luke cried again so happy to have Father here. To have him really here. When he had told Father they were going to a place called Kwenn and then he never showed up, Luke was afraid he would never see him again. But he was here now!

Father slowly stood up and walked over to Leia. "Leia," he said softly as bent over and gently grabbed her. Leia grabbed Breha's jumpsuit.

"Mama! Mama!" she cried.

"Let go, Leia," he said. "She's gone."

Father slowly pulled her off. He picked her up into his arms and cradled her. Leia curled into him, grabbing his shirt, and cried. Luke was at Father's side at once. He wrapped an arm around Father's leg. Father looked down at Luke with sad eyes, yet Luke didn't feel any sadness from him. Luke felt happiness from his father.

"Come," Father said. "Let's go home."

Chapter Text

Chapter 30: The Revenge

The Rebel base was in complete darkness. The red light of Vader's lightsaber casted an eerily glow through the narrow halls. He didn't need the light. He could easily sense the Rebels. He kept his lightsaber ignited as it heralded his impending arrival. Vader enjoyed soaking in the fear of the Rebels as they realized he was approaching them in their hiding spots.

He stepped into an open room. It was a storage room filled with metal crates and pathetic scum that bled fear into the Force. Vader smiled. He could hear the Rebels tightening their grips and fingering the triggers as they hoisted their blasters up. With a simple click, Vader deactivated his lightsaber casting the entire room into darkness. One of the Rebels jumped, and a stream of red blaster fire shot towards the doorway where Vader had just stood. A few other Rebels jumped as well and more blaster fire joined the first.

The blaster shots briefly illuminated the room, showing that Vader was no longer in the doorway. There was panicked breathing as the Rebels looked around. Had Vader ducked back into the hallway? There was the sound of scuffling boots and the rustle of fabric as the Rebels shifted nervously. Some cursed softly under their breath. One Rebel reached out to another nearby and squeezed their shoulder. Perhaps, just perhaps, they had escaped.

The red beam re-activated with a snap-hiss. Already it was swinging down towards a group of kneeling Rebels. They barely had time to turn their heads before the lightsaber cut them all in half. Then the red beam disappeared as some of the Rebels turned and open fire where they had seen the red light. There was a sound of banging as Vader grabbed two Rebels with the Force and threw them against a wall. He made sure their bodies hit against the wall at just the right angle and force that would snap their necks.

Vader jumped and his lightsaber snapped to life again. He stabbed down at an unsuspecting Rebel and slashed the head off of the one sitting next to it. Blaster fire shot at him, but this time he deflected the shots with his lightsaber. A few shots he was able to bounce right into some of the Rebels.

It wasn't long before the room was silent except for the buzzing of Vader's saber. The red light reflected in the the open eyes of the corpses. Vader took a small moment to savor his victory and the linger fear and pain. Then he moved to find the next pocket of pathetic scum. He would destroy them as he had the ones in this storage room, the hangar, the barracks, and any and all he came across.

He was enjoying this. He had troops stationed around the base with strict orders to kill any Rebel on sight if they managed to get through the locked doors. No other troops had accompanied Vader into the base. He needed none. They would only hamper him in his hunting. With only himself, he was able to fully unleash himself.

There were rooms where the Rebels were blasted into the walls. Their bodies still hanging there in the small craters their bodies had created on impact. Their bones and skull caved in from the force in which they had been blasted into the wall. There were rooms were all the bodies were hacked and sliced to pieces. Rooms were the Rebel corpses all grasped at their throats. There were still some Rebels alive in those rooms, yet wouldn't be for long. These Rebels had been gifted a slow, painful death full of fear and realization their doom was upon them.

Vader needed this. He needed to unchain his emotions. Let them loose. Vader's emotions were volatile and dangerous. When free, they flew around dangerously and wildly. As a Jedi he had to fight against his emotions. Smother them. Push them down. Pretend they didn't exist. As a Sith he was finally let them free. By allowing that freedom, Vader had come to learn how to control his emotions and his power in the Force, which only made him stronger.

But Vader rarely let himself go so completely, to let his emotions and his power run free. He was generally one for control, necessity, efficiency, and order. He wanted peace. He had always wanted peace. It was one of the reasons he had killed Sidious. It was the reason he wanted Padmé by his side. It was why he did whatever was necessary to bring the galaxy to heel. For that, Vader had to be in control, but it was nice for a moment to grant himself full freedom.

Freedom to soak in and relish the fear of the Rebels. To revel in his satisfaction of not just their deaths, but their complete demise as he crushed their hopes. He spared no one. He brought his fury down on them all, but his rage still hungered. These weren't the Rebels that had caused his rage. These weren't the ones who had stuck on board his ship and freed Organa and that Rebel pilot. These weren't the ones who had come to the Velm system and attacked his family. Stabbed his pregnant wife. Kidnapped his children. These. Weren't. The. Ones. It was a shame they weren't.

When the entire base was destroyed, he finally pulled himself in. He collected his emotions and replaced the control. His lightsaber was clipped back on to his belt. As he made his way through the hallways, stepping over corpses, he took deep even breaths as he recentered himself. He left the base and the dismal planet it was located on without a second thought. Once back on the Devastator, his mind at once went to his family.

Padmé . . . His rage fired up inside him. The massacre of the Rebels had done little to ease him. Why hadn't she just listened to him? Why was she still clinging to the Rebellion? He should have made her watch Bail's full interrogation. Heard what he what he said about Obi-Wan. Then perhaps Padmé wouldn't have turned to that traitorous man. Why hadn't she stuck to their bargain? All she had to do was stop fighting him. Just accept her place as his wife and mother of their children. They could finally be a family. All of them together. Safe. Secured. Loved. Instead everything was a wreck. His children missing. His wife in critical care. The baby inside her . . . the baby . . .

Vader couldn't recall the last time he ran, but he ran through the halls when the Rebels attacked the estate on Velm. He had failed to track down Obi-Wan. His old master had dropped his shields to lure Vader away. Once Vader was away, the shields were back up and Vader lost track of the Jedi. Obi-Wan had successfully gotten his hands on Padmé and the children. As Vader tracked them down, that was when the Force almost knocked him over. For a moment he almost thought he had been shot by a blaster, but it was the Force screaming at him.

So he ran. He followed the pull of the Force and eventually the trail of blood smeared along the wall to find his bloodied wife laying on the ground. One arm wrapped protectively around her stomach as she begged the Rebel standing above her with a knife not to kill her. Vader hadn't hesitated. He threw his lightsaber. The Force guided it into the Rebel's chest.

As he collected Padmé, his wife, his angel, off the floor, she begged him to go after the children. His heart was torn. He wavered on his feet. The children had been taken, but he looked at Padmé. She was covered in blood. Her pleas were fading away as she lost consciousness. No! Vader cried. He couldn't let her die. He marched back to the hangar entrance. Stormtroopers had secured the area. Vader bellowed for a medic, but his eyes never strayed from her face.

He vaguely recalled the medics arriving with the stretcher and lowering her down on it. He didn't move as the medics started to cut away her tattered and stained clothing. Instead he focused on how pale she was. How labored her breathing was. Was she going to survived this? She had to . . . He had done this all for her! Without her what was the point? The price he had paid was . . . incredibly high and unspeakable (and perhaps unforgivable), but as long as he had Padme it was all worth it.

" . . . Majesty?"

Vader finally tore his eyes away from Padme. He realized the head medic had been calling him for a while. The medic jumped nervously seeing the red-rimmed ember eyes staring at him.

"Your majesty," he said nervously. "She should be fine. She lost some blood, and the bioscan reports no broken bones and no major arteries were hit. We're giving her fresh blood and stitching up the wounds now."

Vader's eyes turned to watch two of the medics working to stitch up the cuts on Padme. A blood bag hung from a skinny pole that stuck out from the stretcher.

"However . . ." the lead medic continued. Vader's attention was back fully on the man. "The baby . . ."

"What?" Vader demanded.

"We don't know what the blood loss did to the baby," the medic stated.

"Then find out," Vader hissed.

"Your maj-majesty," the man stumbled. "It's still too early in the pregnancy to tell what damage has been done. All I can say is that she hasn't miscarried yet."

Vader looked at Padme's stomach. It was still flat. He reached down with his ungloved hand and placed it flat against her stomach. Was it just his imagination? Was she cold? He closed his eyes and called the Force to him. His anger at his wife's health and the loss of his children quickly powered his connection to the Dark Side. It hissed as it swirled around him in the cold, inky folds of the Force. He pushed his awareness out and focused on Padme.

He could sense the small, so very, very small, little life inside of her. He had only felt it once before, when they were in her room mere hours ago. The baby had hummed strongly in the Force despite how tiny and fragile it was. Now it flickered. The baby was in danger. No! Vader cried. He wasn't going to lose anyone anymore. Not Padme. Not the baby. He wouldn't allow it.

He summoned his power and focused on the baby. Just as he had done years ago when he had saved Padme, he focused on the midichlorians that made up the baby. Heal, he demanded. He infused his dark power into that command. The little life brightly glowed for a second, then returned to a flicker. Vader scowled. Heal! The Force lashed around him creating a hurricane. Even the medics seemed a bit uncomfortable, but Vader ignored them. His whole focus was channeling the thrashing Force into the small little baby.

Heal.

The little life of the baby glowed brightly, and this time it stayed bright and steady. Vader watched as the light of his unborn child hummed evenly in the Force. Slowly, a bit reluctantly, Vader pulled away.

In the present, Vader moved through the halls of his flagship. Two red Royal Guards followed him. Whoever he crossed paths with, at once flattened themselves to the wall and saluted. He made his way to the med bay. One of the doors had two red guards standing beside it. Vader entered alone, no guards followed him in.

A bacta tank sat in the middle of the room. Padme floated gently inside. Her eyes were closed. This was her second dip into the tank. Her cuts had healed from the first dip. This time was more for the baby. Vader hadn't explained to the doctors the powers of the Force. He knew the baby was fine, but he was willing to accept the doctor's suggestions. He would rather be too careful than not.

He looked at his wife floating peacefully in the bacta. What was he going to do with her? It was clear he couldn't trust her. Look at what had happened due to her actions. Hopefully this would finally allow Padme to realize what Vader had known all along: the Rebels were not to be trusted and her place was at his side. There she would safe. If she did what Vader asked and wanted, if she would just love him and be beside him, he would give her the galaxy if she wanted. As long as she was with him.

He thought back to when he had healed the baby. The last command hadn't been him. The word heal had come from a soft whisper. From a voice Vader hadn't heard in five years. The voice of Anakin Skywalker. Vader scowled. He had thought all remnants of that fool had been destroyed. All that was left were ashes, flakes dancing about in the maelstrom of Darth Vader's mental landscape. Apparently, something remained. Something that was able to voice itself. Vader had meditated to find these little worms of Anakin and destroy them, but he hadn't yet. In due time he would. He didn't need any conflict inside of himself.

Casting one last look at Padme, Vader left the med bay. He had other duties to attend while his intelligence agents hunted down Kenobi, Organa, and his twins. He had reports to look over, a council meeting to attend to followed by a briefing of the military chief staff. Vader was still the Emperor and his empire still needed him. When all that was done and finished, Vader finally made it back to his room. He needed time to think. To meditate.

Yet he was barely into his bedroom when he felt a soft nudge against his mind. Vader froze at once and gently reached out into the Force. He had felt this same sensation before.

Luke? he asked.

The warmth that was Vader's son was strong and bright when the boy was with Vader. But now over a distance of unknown lightyears, it was barely noticable.

Father? Luke asked back.

Relief and happiness rushed through Vader hearing Luke's voice. There was a small bit of pride that marveled at how strong his boy was. However, this was too much. Luke was too young and untrained. This was sure to strain the child, if not eventually hurt him.

Luke, you can't keep talking to me like this, Vader explained though part of him hated to say that. If you keep doing this, it can cause you to get sick. Hopefully Vader had worded that in a child-friendly way that Luke would understand.

Father, I know where we are! Luke said. Vader could sense Luke's pride in his accomplishment. I'm on a place called Sump . . . but Leia said we'd be leaving soon. For a place called . . . Ken? Keen? Queen?

Kwenn.

Yes! That's it! Luke said happily. Will you come get me? I want to go home.

Yes, Luke I will, Vader said. Now let go of this connection, Luke. I will come get you and your sister and take you both home soon.

Luke sent out a small wave of happiness and relief before his presence disappeared into the Force.

Sump? That was on the edge of the galaxy. A good place for a hideout. It was also far from Vader's current position. The Kwenn system however was much closer. He could see why the Rebels would choose Kwenn. It was the last mid-rim world on a hyperspace lane. Many ships stopped there to refuel and resupply before heading out into the outer rim. It was also on the edge of Hutt space. If one couldn't escape down the hyperspace route, then the scum could always scurry to a Hutt-controlled world.

It wasn't long before a plan started to form in his head. Yes, this would work. He would not only get his children back, but hopefully, finally, get the family he had always wanted.

 


 

The moment Luke and Leia left hyperspace, Vader felt them. He himself was heavily shielded to make sure Obi-Wan didn't sense him. Perhaps Obi-Wan had tried to shield the children, but they were Vader's children. His connection to them was strong, and he knew they were close. He reached out with barest whisper of the Force towards them. He gently pressed against them. Sending them waves of love before he withdrew not wanting to draw Obi-Wan's attention.

Vader was very tempted to seize his children the moment the Rebel ship landed in a hangar on the space station. He wanted to scoop them up in his arms and make sure they never him again. But . . . the problem was Leia.

Luke wanted to come back. He wanted to be with his family. His real family. Unlike Leia, the boy had never been poisoned against Vader. It was why the Lars still lived. They were still imprisoned. They had kept his boy away from him. But beyond keeping Luke and telling the child his father was dead, the Lars had raised Luke well. At least as well as they could as poor moisture farmers on Tatooine. The Organas were the complete opposite. While they gave Leia the best, the Organas had stolen Vader's daughter. Lied to her and twisted her mind against him.

When Bail had escaped and the twins taken away, Vader had been so tempted to kill Breha in relitation. But he stayed his hand. Breha would be more valuable alive, but that didn't mean he wasn't going to send a message to Bail and the Rebels. At the very public execution of Breha that was broadcasted across the galaxy, it was not the Alderaan queen on the platform. It was a Clawdite impersonating her. Vader had made the Clawdite wore a wig and gloves. So after Vader cut its head off, it wouldn't be revealed it was a fake as the Clawdite reverted back to its natural state after death.

Now Vader had the perfect role for Breha to play. Though getting her ready to follow his orders faithfully and unquestionably was taking time. The woman was incredibly strong willed. It took a few days to break her down, but finally she was ready.

Everything went as planned. Vader hired the bounty hunter to collect the twins once Organa and Kenobi had foolishly left the twins alone. Though of course his little children complicated things by somehow sneaking out of the apartment before the bounty hunter or the droid could collect them. Vader had to use the Force to gently push against them. Delaying them enough for a police droid to come to the scene, which allowed the bounty hunter to finally collect the twins and bring them to the warehouse.

Then Breha Organa stepped into the scene. She collected the twins. Gave them warm milk laced with a mild sedative. Put the two to sleep. Vader just had to make sure they stayed asleep while Bail was lured to the warehouse. His undercover agents lured Bail alone. Kenobi would sense the puppet strings of the Dark Side pulling Breha. Despite the burning desire to go after Kenobi and exact his revenge, Vader focused on his children.

"Breh-Breha?" Bail asked as he walked into the empty room of the warehouse. His beard was shaved and his hair was dyed, as if it would fool Vader.

"Bail!" Breha said relieved.

"How are you . . . How are you alive? I saw you . . ." he said. He hadn't approached her.

"It wasn't me. It was a fake. Vader faked my death," she explained.

Bail was still uncertain. "How did you escape?" he asked. Vader reached out into the Force. He was overseeing everything in the nearby control room of the warehouse. He sat in a chair in front of a various view screens. The main screen showed the interaction between Bail and Breha. Vader kept checking a secondary scene which showed the security room where the twins still slept.

He reached out into the Force towards Bail. He needed this to speed along. There was quite a bit of work to do before he woke up the twins. Vader felt for Bail's mind. He had to admit, the man had an impressive natural will. But Vader wasn't looking to barge into the other's mind. He only sent out waves of comfort, of ease, love, and longing.

"When you got free of the Devastator, there were a group of Rebels who got seperated from Obi-Wan. When Vader left the ship, they were able to free me."

"But how are you on Kwenn?"

"Kwenn isn't that far from the Velm system. It was decided it would be a good safe place to hide. I see I was not the only one who thought that. When you contacted the Rebel base here, I recognized your voice at once. I knew it was you."

Breha was playing her part well. She gave a soft sad smile. Bail smiled back.

"I'm just so glad you're ok," Breha said as tears glistened her eyes. Vader nudged Bail's mind again. It was all it took for the man to cautiously walk forward and approach his wife.

"Is it really you?" Bail asked in a soft voice.

"Yes," she said as Vader soothed Bail's mind. Finally the man opened his arms and the two hugged. Vader smiled as he felt the relief in Bail.

"Leia is safe," Bail said as he pulled away from the hug.

"Is she?" Breha asked.

"Yes, yes of course she is!"

"Then why is she here?"

"What? What do you mean? Breha?"

"Two bounty hunters were paid by some Rebel to get the children. Apparently Vader has been capturing Rebel families and threatening them. He would release the families if the Rebels told them about you, Obi-Wan, or the twins' locations. The Rebels here didn't recognize you with your beard shaved off and your hair dyed, so they didn't know it was you. But they did recognize the children. I paid them off to bring the children to me instead . . . I sold off my wedding ring . . ."

Bail was instantly on edge. His shoulders were tense. He paced away from Breha to the other side of the room before marching back to her.

"She's here? Where is she?" he asked. When Breha didn't reply, he pushed more. "Where is Leia? Where is Luke?"

"They're sleeping and safe," Breha said calmly.

"I . . . I need to see them. We need to get them somewhere safe. If bounty hunters were already after them . . . we need to get out of this system. We need to find Obi-wan and leave at once."

Silence stretched between the king and queen of Alderaan. Vader slowly pulled on the puppet string attached to Breha. A smile spread across her lips, and as it grew Bail's face fell. His eyes widen. His jaw slack.

"Breha?" he whispered.

"I'm afraid, Bail," Breha hissed, "I can't let you near them." Bail straightened up. He held his chin high. "Is . . . is something the matter, Bail?" Breha asked her voice this time heavy with concern.

"What have they done to you?" Bail asked. "What has Vader done to you?"

Breha let out a laugh. The same laugh coming out of Vader. "Breha Organa is now a very loyal puppet to the Empire. To the Emperor. To me," Vader said through Breha.

" . . . Vader! You! What have you done?" he said. "Where is Leia?"

"I told you she is safe," Breha said softly. "Let her rest."

"No!" Bail shouted full of fear.

"Very well," she said. Her voice low and deep. "How about a bargain, Bail? You can either have Leia or Alderaan."

"What . . . what do you mean?"

Through Breha, Vader continued, "What I mean is that if you leave now, without your daughter, I won't destroy Alderaan."

"What?" Bail gasped.

Breha dug out a holoprojector out of her jumpsuit pocket. She placed the disc in her hand and turned it on. It projected the planet of Alderaan surrounded by an Imperial fleet.

"No," Bail said. "You can't mean to . . ."

"Attack an entire planet? I've done it before. You recall the recent bombing of Naboo? The navy was rooting out those terrorists responsible for the outbreak of that horrible Gray Fever? It was so sad what happened to Naboo."

"You . . . you monster!" Bail shouted. "Get out of my wife! Give me back my daughter!"

"Is that what you choose?" she snarled. In the holograph, a star destroyer started to lower its orbit. Then suddenly, Breha's head snapped back. Her eyes went wide and wild. She gasped for several deep breaths. The holodisc clattered to the floor. Bail looked on in horror. Then as quickly as it started, it was gone. Breha hunched over as she caught her breath.

"Bail?" she said. "Bail! It's me! He's not in control!"

"Leia . . . Luke . . . where are they? I must find them! If you're really Breha, tell me where they are!"

"I . . . don't know, Bail. I don't know! I'm so sorry!" Breha said as she cried.

Bail wavered. Vader could feel the conflict inside of him. Should he run to his wife and comfort her? Was she even his wife?

"Bail . . ." Breha said. "Please . . . Save Alderaan. Let Leia go. You can't pick one life over billions!"

"You're still Vader!" Bail shouted. He drew out his blaster and leveled it at her, setting the gun to stun.

"Leia is just a child! So is Luke!" Breha cried. "Just two children. How many children are on Alderaan? You would choose countless others over just two? You can't Bail! Leia is our daughter! We love her! You love her! But we can't pick her over our planet!"

"Breha please if you're really you, my wife, my love, tell me where Leia is! Vader is using you like a tool!"

"How could you?" she asked as she wiped a tear away from her eye. "How can you pick our planet for just two children?"

"Tell me where she is Breha!"

"No . . . not when you're like this. You need to calm down. Think rationally."

"This is all a game Breha! You're being used by that monster!" Bail raised his blaster.

"I can't," Breha said. "I won't."

"Breha . . ." Bail said painfully. "Please don't make me do this."

"Bail!" Breha shouted. "Please!" Then in a soft whisper, in a moment of defiance, the real Breha said, "Shoot."

The beam shot out from the blaster, but it wasn't the green stun beam. It was a red one. The shot struck true into the Queen of Alderaan. She fell to the floor at once. Bail just stood looking at his wife. His eyes wide. His face had a thin layer of sweat.

"Breha . . .?" he said as he tucked his blaster back into his belt. "Breha?"

He slowly walked forward and knelt down. The burning hole through her chest was clear. "No . . ." he sobbed. "No! It was set to stun! It wasn't supposed to be like this!"

Vader leaned back in his seat and smiled as he enjoyed his revenge. It had been so simple to flick the switch on Bail's blaster off of stun. Vader clicked a small button on the control panel and stormtroopers flooded into the room. They grabbed at the senator. He screamed and tried to fight against them as they dragged him from the room leaving Breha's body still on the ground.

"Bring me the slicer and the droid," Vader barked into his comm.

The door to the control room slid open and a red guard pushed the Rodian slicer in followed by a humanoid looking droid.

"You know what you are to do?" Vader said as he stood up from the desk.

"Yes . . . yes . . ." the Rodian said.

"Then get to it," Vader hissed. He then turned his attention to the droid. "Can you match their voices?"

"I have watched 116 hours of footage of the senator and queen," the droid replied. There was a whirring sound inside the droid. This time when it spoke, it sounded just like Bail Organa. "I believe I have gotten the voice signature down correctly." It paused. Again the whirring noise was heard. "I should be able to complete the work" it said perfectly replicating Breha's voice.

"Good," Vader said as he waved the droid towards the slicer.

He left the room, letting the two work. His two red guards followed him as he walked through the hallway to the security room where two more red guards stood guard. He entered the room alone and saw his sleeping children. He frowned. They were sleeping on a blanket on the cold hard ground. He sighed as he knelt down next to them. He longed to pick them up and carry them off to his ship.

But he had to see through with this plan. It was for the best. He could take his children away right now. He could have done it the moment they exited hyperspace into the Kwenn System. But then what? Leia would go back to resenting him? Her father? Her real father? Would she have nightmares that plagued her each time she slept of those pathetic kidnappers? Her nightmares drove the twins to go to the detention block on a star destroyer. Drove his wife to contact Rebel scum because she thought she was doing what was best for her children. She couldn't bare to see her daughter in pain.

No. Vader wanted his family, and for that to happen Leia needed to let go of the Organas. So Vader created this scheme to let his daughter see the Organas for what they really were. The droid would provide the voice overs. The slicer would alter the footage. Soon Vader would lightly nudge his children awake in the Force. They would see the fake footage. Watch as Bail killed Breha. The Emperor would let his daughter go to her fake mother. Let her see that she was indeed dead.

Then Vader would come in. He would be the one to comfort his daughter. For who else would she fall back on? Bail? The one who murdered Breha? Padme? No. It would be Vader. He smiled as looked down at the two sleeping children. Soon, he told himself. Soon he would finally have what he wanted the most: his family.

Chapter Text

Chapter 31: The Training

Darth Vader, Emperor of the Galaxy, was happy. It was an odd feeling. As long as he had been Darth Vader, happiness appeared to be more of a fleeting desire than a reality. Yet here he was with a genuine smile on his face as he walked through the halls of his palace home on Imperial Center. He had come home early after finishing up his business back at the Imperial Palace, which was previously the Jedi Temple. He had no issues using the the temple as his seat of power, but he didn't want to live there. In another life, that of a man long destroyed, he had been bound to that place. Chained to it. Vader wanted a place to call his, truly his, where his family could be kept safe.

Since he was home early, the children were still busy with their daily lessons. His presence often derailed their lessons and distracted the twins, so for now he made his way deeper into his home. Two red Royal Guards stood at the entrance of the hall leading to the bedrooms. However they didn't wear the normal bright red uniform with cape and helmet. There wore a dark red military uniform with plastoid armor on their shoulders. Their faces were left uncovered, but they still carried Force pikes. The children were scared of the red guards, so Vader had opted for something a bit more subdued.

He passed the guards and made his way down the hallway. The door to his bedroom was to the right, but he instead went into the door directly across from it. It was the nursery for the new baby that Padmé had been working on preparing. He was glad he had given her this project. It had kept her busy, and he wasn't surprised to find her in there now. However, she wasn't alone. She never was. Not any more. Vader was not taking any chances of his happiness being ruined.

Inside the nursery standing by the door was another red guard. It was one of the few women red guards, and she was Padmé's personal guard. Along with the guard was a handmaiden. Upon seeing the Emperor enter, the two silently bowed, and left the room. Padmé sat in a rocking chair. Her head was slumped over resting on her shoulder, and she dozed peacefully. Her hands were folded on top of her round swollen stomach.

She was now seven months pregnant. Vader reached out into the Force and felt the strong life of the baby inside. The doctors insisted Padmé take it easy as they still feared for any adverse effects after the stabbing. While Vader was sure the baby was fine, there was still a part of him that worried. He made sure her handmaids kept her from over exerting herself.

He had yet to go public about his family. He was hoping Padmé would come to be more amenable to being his empress. So far she was not. Vader sighed as he looked at his sleeping wife. He had always imagined her ruling by his side as the two finally brought peace to the galaxy. But he would be fine if that wasn't what she wanted. She could stay here at home with the children. As long as she was with him, he would be happy. In fact part of him liked the fact of not having to share her at all just as it was now. She and the children were simply his.

He brought up his left hand, his flesh hand, and gently pushed a long curly strand of hair out of her face. The touch caused her to stir and slowly she awoke.

"Hmmm?" she moaned as she woke up. Vader smiled at her.

"How are you feeling?" he asked. He leaned over so he could place his flesh hand against her round belly.

"I'm fine," she said as pushed herself up out of the rocking chair. "Just a bit sore and swollen." Vader took her arm and helped her stand up. She checked the time on a chrono on the wall. "You're home early," she noted.

"I was able to wrap a few things up faster than expected," he said. The two walked side by side out of the nursery and into their bedroom across the hall. Padmé excused herself to the bathroom as he changed out of his formal clothes into his soft leathers he used for training. When Padmé returned he took her hand and they walked through the palace.

"Have you given any more thought to a name?" Padmé asked.

Vader glanced briefly down at her round stomach. "No," he answered truthfully. Honestly, he would much rather have Padmé think of a name. She had insisted that he be the one to name their new little girl, since he had no input in naming Luke and Leia. He told her that those names were perfect names. Clearly Padmé was great at picking out names.

"What about naming her after your mother? Shmi?" She caught his foul expression. "What's wrong with that?"

"That is a slave name," he half mumbled under his breath.

"And now it could be the name of a princess," she said.

Vader didn't reply as they walked down the hall. Shmi was the mother of Anakin. Of that Jedi. Not him. He had been born out of power.

The two made it to the twin's lesson room. Two desks sat in the center in front a large viewscreen and a holotable. Their lessons had just finished. As soon as they saw their parents, both their faces lit up with smiles.

"Mother!"

"Father!"

They both ran at their parents, arms wide. Luke's small arms wrapped around Vader's waist. The father could only smile warmly at his son. He placed his flesh hand on top of Luke's head. He ruffled the soft blonde hair. The boy stepped away looking annoyed. Luke was now six. He had grown a bit over the past few months. He was a bit taller. Leaner. But still Vader's cute little one.

"Father?" Leia asked. "Are we going to train today?"

"Yes," Vader replied. A large smile grew across her lips. It had been months of work, but finally Leia had warmed up to him. No longer did she cling on to those imposters. She had accepted her new family. "But first you two must change."

The twins didn't wait for another word. They rushed out of the room. Their small footsteps were heard echoing down the hall as they hurried back to their rooms to change. Padmé let out an annoyed breath. She didn't like that he was already training the children to use the Force. She thought they were too young. Yet what she didn't really like the idea of them becoming Sith.

"I'll see you at dinner," she said in a clipped tone. She turned and left him. He made his way to the training hall. The children bounced into the training hall wearing their gray tunics. They both enjoyed learning about the Force and honing their natural talent. As Vader lead them through exercises, he marveled at their natural strength in the Force. These two would be powerful Force users one day.

He found it interesting how the two differed in their strengths. Luke was much stronger when it came to external uses of the Force. He learned and progressed at these skills much faster than his sister. He could levitate things better. He also was better connected to the Force to receive warnings and used it to hone his own reaction speeds. Leia was much stronger in using the Force internally. She was better at meditating and constructing shields around her mind. She was also better at using the Force to assist her physically such as jumping.

Vader always watched his children's duels with practice sabers very closely. For one, he was always ready to intervene should one of them slip and accidentally hurt the other. There had already been one close call to an eye once. Padmé hadn't let the children train for a while after that. But Vader was also memorized by how the two complimented each other. Leia had better strength, but Luke had better reaction times.

However, lately Leia had been beating her brother more and more. His girl was tapping into her emotions to power her. It was giving her an edge over her brother. Vader didn't find it that surprising. She had anger and fear inside of her, most of which was directed at Bail Organa. It was pushing Leia towards the Dark Side. Luke didn't have those strong emotions yet. The boy was much more rooted in the light. Vader would eventually need to think of a way to push his son towards the Dark Side.

 


 

Golden sunlight shone through the windows. Even after being on Imperial Center for a few months, Padmé still marveled at the normalcy of daylight. She had spent the past four years almost exclusively in space. The year before that in hiding. She had forgotten how nice, how natural, it was to have the natural cycle of day and night.

Vader had been right. Everything at his palace was better. It was clear Vader clearly had it built to his specifications. Large parts of the interior were reminiscent of Nubian architecture. She didn't know if it was because Vader actually like these design features or if he did for her. And if Vader did it for himself, then why? Vader had no connection to Naboo. It was all Anakin who loved Naboo. Anakin who had fallen in love with Padmé on Naboo. Got married there. Why would Vader care about it?

Most of the palace, at least the parts Padmé had access to, were crafted with a sense of obvious love and care. The twins both had their own rooms that were wonderfully done. They weren't too gaudy, large, or lavish. They were reasonable sized rooms for a child. The children not only adored their new rooms, but the palace as well. They were able to run and play. There was a large private garden for them to be outside. Luke was absolutely amazed by all the plants.

Indeed Vader have lived up to his promise. Everything at his palace was nice and everything was better, yet Padmé hated it. She was never left alone. There was always someone or something watching her. The Emperor was sending a very clear message: he no longer trusted her. Granted, he had all right not to. It had been all her fault. She had caused the Rebels to come. For her children to be taken. For her to be attacked. For her unborn child to be in danger.

At nights she often had nightmares about the event. Rion chasing her down endless white corridors. His knife dripping with her blood. Her arms wrapped tightly across her stomach, protecting the child within. She often woke up crying or screaming. If Vader was in bed, he would comfort her. He would hold her, rock her, gently stroke her hair or rub her back while he promised nothing would harm her or the baby. They were both safe. Though he wasn't always there. Those nights were the worst when she woke up to a cold empty bed.

Sometimes the children would come to her. It was usually Luke. He would crawl into bed and curl up next to his mother. His little arms would wrap around her. He said nothing. His presence alone was enough to chase the demons away. A few times Leia came in. Sometimes with Luke, once or twice by herself. Like her brother, Padmé found hugging her daughter was enough to calm her down.

As Padmé watched the sunlight filter through the window, she rubbed her swollen stomach. At seven months pregnant, her belly was nice and round. She filled her days with trying to focus on the baby. She spent a lot of time in the nursery. Yet all she was doing was trying to run away from her fear. The fear of what Vader was going to do to her children.

She wasn't surprised she had made her way to the training hall. Her personal guard shadowed her from a respectable distance. Padmé eased her way up to the door and peered in. The twins were dueling with the the small practice sabers. Their red beams clashed against each other. Padmé's hand clutched to her chest. She knew they were practice beams, but still seeing her children fight each other with such weapons brought a pain to her heart.

At first it appeared as if it was nothing but a harmless match. The two children clearly lacked any finesse and experience. But then Leia started to push Luke back more and more. She brought her training lightsaber down hard against his. She grunted. There was a fire in her eyes. A scowl on her small face. Luke was struggling. Then he tripped. Padmé let out a gasp and took a small step forward, but Leia just pointed her sword down at her brother. A smile spread across her lips that made Padmé's blood run cold. This not a smile a six year old should have. It was cold.

"I win!" Leia said. Luke huffed as he pushed himself up.

"Good," Vader said. "Again."

Luke looked down at the ground and frowned. He was clearly uncomfortable. Perhaps his confidence had lowered from the lost. Padmé watched as the two children brought up their sabers into an opening stance. A new duel started, and again Leia won. Padmé could watch no more. She turned and hurried down the hall.

That night she sat in bed. Vader had just finished showering. He wore sleep pants and nothing else. His golden skin glistened as he dried his hair off with a towel. His body was still in excellent shape. Her eyes lingered over the toned abs, but his laugh brought her eyes up to his sulfur ones. He had caught her staring, and of course he liked it. He threw the towel to the floor and crawled into bed.

"You don't just have to look," he said as came up beside her. His prosthetic arm wrapped around her shoulders. His flesh hand grabbed her hand. He placed her hand against his stomach. "You can touch all you want," he whispered softly into her hair. She slid her hand out of his and let it rest on her pregnant stomach.

"I'm not . . . I'm not in the mood for any of that," she said. He let out a long disappointed sigh. His hand came to rest on her stomach. He gently rubbed it back and forth. He squeezed her closer to him. Their bodies were flushed against each other. He gently kissed the top of her head.

"I did give some thought to a name," he said.

"Oh?"

"Butterfly."

". . . butterfly?"

"A name that means butterfly. Is there any in Nubian?"

"Why butterfly?" she asked.

"A butterfly is a symbol of renewal and rebirth. Of a transformation. The old being left behind, and the new being ushered in," he explained.

There was no doubt what Vader meant. His own transformation and rebirth into a Sith. Into Vader. Into the Emperor.

"I . . . I don't know of any off the top of my head," Padmé said. "I could look it up."

He kissed her gently a few times as a way of saying please and thank you. He seemed . . . happy. Content. She couldn't help but wonder, what had happened to Anakin. He had said to stop fighting Vader, and ever since she had come to this palace she had. Was Anakin doing his part? Was he fighting Vader?

Padmé thought back to her children dueling. She recalled Leia striking down her brother with such an intensity. It sent a shiver through Padmé. Vader paused in his cuddling and leaned away from her.

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

"I . . . I saw a bit of your training today with Luke and Leia. They were dueling with lightsabers . . ."

"Ah. They didn't get hurt," he said.

"It's not about that. I noticed that Leia . . . Leia was quite forceful."

"Hmmm. Yes she is," Vader said sounding pleased. "She's learning how to recognize and use her anger as a way to fuel her power."

Padmé snuggled in closer to her husband. She let Vader think it was her wanting to be close to him, but she was really chasing off the chill that was growing inside of her. Leia was learning how to become a Sith. Suddenly, Padmé remembered her old dream. The one with the shadowed children carrying small red lightsabers. They had slashed off her legs and claimed that now their mother could never leave them.

Is that what her children would become? They would lose their innocence to hurt and kill people like their father had? How much longer could Padmé hold on? Could she let this happen? Watch as her children fell to the Dark Side and were twisted into Sith.

She already knew the answer. No, she could not. But then she was faced with the impossible task of what to do about it.

Chapter Text

Chapter 32: The Lifeday

"Father! Father" Luke and Leia shouted the moment they saw Vader walk in. The Emperor had been off planet for two weeks. The twins ran up to him and a huge smile spread across his face. He bent over and collected his children into a big hug and kissed them both. As he looked up at his wife, his blue eyes sparkled warmly. The twins untangled themselves from their father's arms and each grabbed one of his hands. They pulled him down the hall.

"We have a surprise!" Leia shouted. Vader raised an eyebrow questioningly as he looked over his shoulder at Padmé, who followed at his side. She only smiled.

The twins pulled their father into a small dining room. The small table had a white table cloth covering it. On top of the table were handmade decorations, toys, and some flowers.

"Happy lifeday!" the twins shouted.

Vader's eyes were wide in surprise. He looked down at his children, over at the table, and then over at his wife for explanation. But Padmé kept her silence. The children pulled their father to the table and had him sit in a chair.

"We made you dinner!" Luke said.

The twins piled their father's plate high with candy and sweets and some other concoctions they made by mixing various ingredients together. Then they both took their seat and piled up their own plates. Blue and brown eyes fell on Vader as they watched and waited for Vader to eat. Slowly he took a bite of the food. He smiled over at his children.

"It's . . . it's good," he said with smile. The two children beamed at their father and both shoveled sweets into their mouth. Vader eyed Padmé's empty plate. "Are you not going to enjoy this fantastic feast?" he said.

"I'm afraid," Padmé said gracefully, "The baby has been making my stomach upset lately. I'm afraid I can't partake in this wonderful meal."

He shot her a nasty glance. She had no doubt the meal was a chore to eat through, but he handled it well. A warm memory came to Padmé's mind. She remembered Obi-Wan and Ahsoka recounting tales of the war when Anakin would eat bugs and worms without a problem. Sometimes he even seemed to like it. Unlike Padmé, Vader clearly had a strong stomach.

After dinner the twins dragged their father to a nearby sitting room. They had built a spaceship out of pillows, cushions, cardboard, and blankets.

"You sit there!" Leia said pointing. "That's the pilot's seat!"

Vader carefully made his way over the cardboard and pillows till he sat in an empty spot. He looked over at the twins. "And how am I to pilot this without my two copilots?" he asked. "Come here you two."

Both did a small little jump of excitement, and rushed over to their father. They both sat on one of his legs. Vader drew them close to him. He grabbed the fake steering yokes and then pretended to steer the ship into outer space. He made a big production of it with noises and big gestures. He would lean his body left and right as he zipped through imaginary asteroids and planets. The twins laughed and squealed. Every now and then one would point and tell their father to watch out. Vader would react by steering the ship away.

After an hour of make-believe space ship, Padmé clapped her hands. Three bright eyes looked over at her. "I believe it's time for presents," she said with a warm smile. The twins smiled and jumped off their father's lap.

"Presents!" they both shouted as they bounced over to their mother. Vader slowly got up and followed them back to the dining room. The food had been cleared but the handmade decorations remained. Now two packages at on the table. They were lumpy and clearly had been wrapped by children.

The children handed their father their presents one at a time. Leia's present a fuzzy warm glove for Vader's prosthetic hand, as the one he always wore was boring and cold. Luke's present was a very nice model ship of a Nubian N-1 starfighter that Padmé had helped Luke pick out. Vader put on his new glove glove and thanked both the children. Their smiles had rarely faded from their faces.

"I still believe you have one more present," Padmé said. Vader looked over and raised an eyebrow. She handed him an envelope. He opened and pulled out the card inside.

"Varné?" he said as he read the only word on the card.

"Parvané means butterfly in old Nubian," Padmé explained. He looked back at the card a bit confused, but then his mouth formed a silent 'o.' He looked back up at her with warm blue eyes. He walked over to her and wrapped her up in his arms. The soft glove rubbed against her back.

"So you like it?" she asked.

"It's a beautiful name," he whispered to her as he leaned in to kiss her on the lips. "For a beautiful little girl." His flesh hand rested on top of her stomach.

It was soon bedtime, and the twins brought Vader into their playroom. A large mattress lay on the floor. It was piled high with blankets and pillows. A makeshift tent out of a large blanket had been strung above the mattress and strings of twinkling lights zig-zagged under the tent. The twins crawled on ot the mattress.

"This is where you'll sleep!" Luke said as he patted the mattress in the middle. Vader let out a small sigh before he crawled into the bed. The twins curled up on each side of him.

"Good night," Padmé said with a smile.

"Good night mother!" the twins called.

She turned and left them to sleep. She went to the kitchen and had a small meal prepared. It wasn't long until Vader joined her.

"Are the children asleep?" she asked.

"Well their sugar high finally caused them to crash," he said as walked up next to her. He grabbed her fork and started to eat off her plate.

"You do know," he said with his mouth half full, "it's not my lifeday."

She gave him a bit of a devious smile. "Oh I'm perfectly aware of your lifeday."

"That's what I thought," he said. "Then why all of this?"

Padmé had taken to teaching the children kindness. If Vader was going to teach her children the harshness and nastiness of the Dark Side, then she was going to try her best to fight it. She was no Jedi, but she couldn't sit there and do nothing as her children were twisted into cruel warriors. She would do her best to keep her children kind and innocent. So Padmé created lessons on ways the children could be kind to each other as well as others around them. She wanted them to think critically about how their actions affect others. And perhaps . . . perhaps she could fight against Vader as well.

"Why not all of this?" she asked as she turned to face him. She leaned into him. His flesh hand wrapped around her. "You saw how happy Luke and Leia were. Look how much they love you. They just wanted to show you that."

The dinner was completely forgotten. His gloved hand wrapped around her shoulders and pulled her closer to him.

"I already know how much they love me. I don't need all of this," he said softly. "Plus you know I don't like celebrating my lifeday."

She gave a soft laugh. "So you say. But don't lie to me, you loved all the attention."

"Fine. It was very nice. But don't think I'm going to forget this when it comes to your lifeday, especially that delicious homemade dinner. And you won't be able to use the pregnancy as an excuse since they baby will be here."

His flesh hand slowly slid up her back, sending a small wave of tingles through her. His hand came around and gently rested against her cheek. Slowly he pulled her towards her and she let herself be led in. Their lips met. He sighed deeply as he pulled away from their kiss.

"I do have work to do," he said a slowly as his eyes focused on something distant.

"You can always skip it," she said.

He let out a small laugh. "If only it was that simple."

"It is that simple," she said. "You're the Emperor. Plus . . . I haven't give you your present yet."

"Wasn't the present the card? With the baby's name?"

"That wasn't the real present," she teased.

"Then what is?" he asked as he leaned back into her. She placed her hands against his chest and slowly slid them lower and lower and lower.

"Why not come back to the bedroom with me and find out?" she said in a low seductive voice. His smile grew bigger.

Padmé awoke before the sunrise. Vader laid peacefully asleep next to her. She carefully slid out of bed and wrapped herself in a warm robe. She checked on the twins, who were sound asleep in their little tent. She started to walk through the palace. Her arms tightened around her to keep warm.

She eventually found herself in the palace garden. The garden was in the center of the palace and as such was surrounded by walls on all sides. Perhaps Vader had built it as way to ensure privacy. As such she couldn't see the tall skylines of the city planet nor the glowing lines of traffic. Vader wouldn't allow any casual traffic near his home. Most likely this was a secured air space. But it did give her a view of the night sky, though there were barely any stars. The light pollution blocked most of the stars out.

She did miss the stars. They had been her one calming constant over these past few years. The stars were always there. Always the same. She recalled being on Vader's star destroyer. Each time the ship came out of hyperspace, she always looked to see if she could read the constellations. If she could read her way home.

Was this home? This palace? It's tall walls surrounding the garden often made it feel more like a glorious cage where Vader kept his most prized possessions. But . . . last night she saw Anakin. She saw him so strongly. That wonderful bright smile and warm blue eyes. Eyes that were like the stars that would lead her home. That was her home. Whenever Anakin was, that was her home.

But what of Vader? Could that fowl monster be truly eliminated? Or was perhaps there was no truly getting rid of Vader now. He was one with Anakin. Is this how her life would be? A constant dance around which mood her husband was in? Would he be the loving father and husband? Or the monster who craved power?

Why was Vader so obsessed with power? He wanted his children to be powerful. He wanted his Empire to be powerful. When would it stop? And what would he do when he finally had it all? This drive of his is how she knew Vader wouldn't give up training his children. Why Padmé feared for them. Why there was something deep inside of her, almost an animal instinct, telling her to run.

But after her last escape attempt had gone so horribly . . . she was afraid to tempt it again. Plus how would she even manage to get free of this palace and the planet? There was no way she would make it to orbit much less to a spot where she could jump to hyperspace. Imperial Center was one of the most well guarded planets in the galaxy. There was a whole fleet surrounding the planet. All of which was at Vader's beck and call.

There was the soft crunch of footsteps on the grass. Padmé was sitting on the bench. She turned to see Vader making his way down the path to her. He wore a thin robe and sleep pants.

"It's too cold for you to be out here," he said as he sat down next to her. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder as he slid closer to her. She sighed as she placed her head against his shoulder. Neither one said anything. They just sat there.

Padmé closed her eyes as she took a deep breath. She could smell him. There was an earthiness to him, but also a lingering scent of danger. Something that made the hair on her arm stand on in. Yet if she pushed pass that, there was something so familiar there. It made her nostalgic for secret rendezvous in her Senate office. A shared smile when thanking the Jedi for their help in the wars yet again. Of walking into her apartment to find her husband sitting on the couch waiting for her while he still wore his dirty and damaged robes and armor.

"I've missed you," he said softly. It was barely a whisper. She was about to open her mouth and chastise him. What was he talking about? They had just spent the night together. But then she got a another deep whiff of that smell. Her heart swelled.

"An-Anakin?" she whispered back softly. He said nothing. Only squeezed her tighter. It was him. It was him. Not Vader. It was Anakin. Her Anakin. Her husband. "I . . . I missed you too," she said. Her voice cracked a bit as her emotions threatened to pour out of her mouth.

"I know," he replied. "You've been so strong."

"Anakin," she said. The name felt so right on her tongue. How she missed saying it. She avoided saying Vader's name as much as possible. "Anakin. I don't know how much longer I can keep doing this."

She slowly wrapped her own arm around his shoulder. She wanted to completely wrap her in his arms. To kiss him over and over, but this moment felt fragile. As if a movement that was too sudden or too strong would break the spell and Vader would reemerge.

"Anakin," she said. "Please. Please tell me you're fighting him as you promised. I haven't been fighting him . . . but . . . But our children. I'm so worried. He's going to make them into Sith. Make them into him. I can't allow that. I just can't."

A long stretch of silence fell between them. She feared she was gone. He had slipped away. She was tempted to grab his face between her hands and stare into his eyes.

"I know," he finally said. "I know."

"Can't you do anything? I've tried talking to him, begging him to stop."

"He won't," Anakin said. "Vader is too selfish. Seeing Luke and Leia as strong Sith makes him happy. Everything is about him. His happiness. As long as you're still doing your part to make him happy, he doesn't care if you or anyone else is unhappy."

"I can't watch anymore. I can't let him twist my babies in monsters. I have to do something."

He sighed deeply. "You mean to leave? To escape?"

She chewed on her lip for a moment. "What else . . . What else can I do? How much longer will it take for you to fight him off? Another month? A year? More? When you finally do what will be of our children?"

"I know," he said. There was a such a deep sense of sadness in those words. A deep heartache. "But . . . But perhaps I'm being selfish, but I don't want to see you leave. You help. The children help. They bring out the light. Despite his selfishness, there is a root of love there. There is me in there. Without you or the children here, I fear there will be no lifeline for me."

She fought back a sob. Her heart was slowly being ripped open. What was she going to do? Stay and condemn her children but possibly regain her husband? Or leave, save her children, but lose her husband? There was no way to win. One way or another she would lose someone she loved.

"Vader is looking for me," Anakin said. "I . . . When you got hurt, stabbed, I healed you."

"Healed me?"

"Yes. Well I healed the baby. It was hurt after all the blood lost. I couldn't . . . I had to do something."

"Anakin . . ."

"Vader has it wrong. He thinks it is the Dark Side that healed you after you gave birth. It was that power that also saved the baby, but healing is not a power of the Dark Side. It is belongs to the light. But the type of healing he uses, I use, the light is its power source. To heal you six years ago, literally almost destroyed all the light within him. Vader funneled it into raw power."

"So . . . you used what little Light Side you have to heal the baby?" she asked. Whatever progress he had made in his internal battle, had been pushed back.

"I don't regret it," he said. "I don't regret healing you or the baby. I would make the same choice over and over again."

"I know," she said as a small sob shook her body. "But I can't bare knowing it hurt you."

"You see why I'm not ok with the idea of you trying to escape? If something went wrong again . . ."

Tears ran down her cheeks. Her body trembled. Anakin turned so he could comfortably wrap both his arms around her. She buried her face into his shoulders.

"What else can I do?" she cried.

His flesh hand rub up and down her back. "I don't know," he whispered. "Plus escaping from this place . . . I'll be honest Padmé, it would be impossible."

"Yes I figured that out," she grumbled. "If I could get back on a ship, I might be able to pull something off." She felt him tense at that subject.

"There is no way he'd ever agree to put you back on a ship."

"I know. It would have to be his idea. Or at least he'd have to think it was his idea."

"And then what? After you go away?" he whispered. His voice was so soft. It was barely there.

"I don't know. I honestly don't know. I can't turn to the Rebellion or to Obi-Wan. I won't make that mistake. But I'll figure it out. I'll find some place safe for the children and me."

"He'll hunt you down," he said. "He'll never let you go, especially if you take the children. Is that the life you want? Constantly on the run?"

"I've done it before," she answered. "It was horrible. It's why I . . . It's why I left Leia and Luke. I wanted to create a galaxy where they didn't grow up in fear."

"You'd rather that life, than this?"

It was a good question. An honest question. Would that life be any better?

"Would you?" she asked him.

He said nothing. Only held her tighter.

Eventually he unwrapped his arm and helped her up off the bench. His kissed her as he separated from her to return to the children so he would be there when they awoke. Padmé returned to her room and cried into her pillow. What was the right choice? Should she stay here and hope that she could get through to Anakin while watching her children be turned? Or should she leave?

Chapter Text

Chapter 33: The Dark Side

Padmé laid on the medical table. The doctor had just finished pouring the cold jelly on her stomach to help the ultrasound machine's probe slide against her skin. The door to the medical examination room slid open. Both Padmé and the doctor jumped. Neither one expecting someone to enter, especially without knocking. The only one unphased was Padmé's guard. A woman with blonde hair that she kept in a tight bun. She wore the dark red uniform of the royal guard, but no cape or helmet.

Emperor Darth Vader walked into the room. His cloak snapping behind him as he came to a stop in the middle of the room. A raise of his hand was all it took to dismiss the guard. Then his gold eyes settled on Padmé, which only caused her to shiver.

"Continue," he ordered.

Padmé noticed the doctor swallow hard and nod her head. The doctor was an older female human woman. Her hair was grey and short. She wore thick glasses.

"Your- your majesty," she said nervously as Vader walked over to the med table. However, he ignored her. His eyes were on his wife. His gloved hand reached down and grabbed Padmé's hand. It was odd he was here. He had attended perhaps one or two of these check-ups when she first came to his palace, right after . . . the incident on the crystal moon. But since then, he received a report from the doctor about each appointment.

Padmé was startled as the probe was pressed against her swollen stomach. Her attention at once turned to the screen. She almost completely forgot Vader was there. She watched as the unmistakable form of the baby came into view. She hadn't gone to any appointments with her previous pregnancy with the twins. She had been too scared. Too worried about protecting herself and Anakin. Too concerned in keeping their marriage a secret. She should have . . .

She lightly shook her head to clear her thoughts. There was no use in dwelling on the past. She could only do better with this baby. She had been amazed to watch and see how it grew with each check up. At first it had been just a small blob. Then a blob with smaller blobs coming off it. Now it looked like a real baby.

A soft sound reminded her of her husband. She looked up at him, but his attention was completely on the screen. A small soft smile spread across his face. His eyes had changed to blue. She couldn't help at smiling at him. There was no doubt that he was happy and cared for this baby.

Vader stayed for the rest of the appointment. The doctor confidentiality told the expecting parents the baby girl was doing fine. There were no concerns. Vader walked with Padmé out of the small med wing of his palace. His hand rested on her back as he kept the slow pace she was forced now to keep with her ever growing belly.

It was him who broke the silence first. "I am glad everything is going well."

"Me too," she replied softly. "I'm just . . . It's just . . ."

Without warning tears formed in her eyes and started to fall. Vader stopped. His face instantly scrunched up in concern, and luckily his eyes were still blue.

"Padmé?" he asked. His hands gently wove into her hair behind her head. He leaned over and kissed her cheeks. Kissed at her tears. "Everything is fine," he said as he looked into her brown eyes.

"I . . . I know," she said between small sobs. "It's- it's just hormones. But I'm just gla-glad that everything is fine-fine."

Vader pulled her to him. His arms wrapped around her. He kissed the top of her head. "Nothing will happen," he whispered into her hair. "I will make sure of it. Everything will be fine. You and the baby will be fine."

He kept his arm around her while he led her through the palace hallways back to their room. Once there he led her to the bed. She protested. She didn't need to rest. She was fine. But he insisted. He helped her take her shoes off and lay down.

"Just take a moment," he said. "Calm down. Rest."

"I don't need to rest," she said. He brought his hand up to her shoulder and squeezed it.

"Just enjoy being off your feet. Five minutes."

"Fine," she reluctantly agreed. Vader nodded and smile. He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before he left the room. She sighed as she let her head fall back against the pillow. Her eyes were still puffy from her outburst earlier. Perhaps Vader was . . . right in that she should take a quick moment.

Closing her eyes felt really good. She allowed her thoughts to wander. She wondered about the baby. What she would like. Luke mostly took after his father while Leia took after her mother. Would this child also strongly take after one of the parents, or would she be more of a mix? She was curious to see how Luke and Leia would handle being older siblings. They seemed excited about the baby and were eager to be big siblings.

Distant shouting brought her out of dozing. She could hear Leia arguing. The children's playroom was next to their bedrooms. Padmé pushed herself out of bed and made her way down the hall. The shouting was getting louder and angrier.

"No! I don't want to! I don't want to!" Leia's voice carried down the hall.

Padmé took a deep breath as she came to the playroom door. She turned into the room. Leia was standing next to a pile of toys. One of the nannies stood with a stern disapproving face. Padmé wasn't a big fan of having nannies, but understood they were needed especially when she had to attend to doctor appointments.

"Leia," Padmé said at the same time the nanny said something. Padmé didn't catch what had been said.

"No!" Leia screamed.

And that was when the room exploded. Padmé was knocked off her feet. She hit the far hallway wall with a thud. The windows shattered and blasted out into the garden. Toys flew everywhere. Out the broken windows. Into the playroom walls. Into the hallway. A few slammed into Padmé.The nanny was blown through the window. Leia stood with her hands tight fists at her side in the epicenter of it all.

Then it was over. The storm suddenly ended as fast as it had started. Padmé could see the tenseness leave Leia's small form. She blinked as she took in the devastation of the room. She slowly turned, her eyes wide, her mouth slightly opened. Then she saw her mother slumped against the wall.

"Mother!" she cried as she ran over. "Mother!"

Heavy feet came running down the hall. By the time Leia was crouched by Padmé's side, the hall was filled with the dark red of the royal guards' uniforms. Leia knelt by Padmé's side tightly clinging on to her arm. A red guard knelt down by Padmé's other side. She was aware the guard was asking her something. But her head was filled with a high pitched buzzing sound.

It was only when hands cupped her face, one gloved and one flesh, that she realized Vader was there. "Padmé," he said softly over and over again. He helped her up and into a waiting hover chair the guards had brought. Vader stayed behind with Leia as the guards took her back to the med wing. Though being there just an hour earlier, Padmé and the baby underwent a full check up.

She wasn't even sure how much time had passed. Hours. But when they brought her back to her room in the hover chair, it was night time. Vader was waiting in their room and dismissed the guards. He helped her out of the chair, into fresh pajamas, and into bed.

"What . . . what happened?" Padmé asked. No one had given her answer back it the med wing. They only said that Leia was fine and not to worry about anything. "Leia is she . . .?"

"Leia is fine," Vader said softly as he pulled the covers up to her chest.

"But . . . I saw . . . the whole room exploded . . ."

"Yes. I watched the security holo." He said it so matter-of-factly. So unconcerned.

"But what . . . how . . ."

"Leia got angry at the nanny. Her anger created a powerful . . . explosion in the Force."

Of course it had been the Force. What else could it have been? But Padmé had never seen the Force used like that before. She knew Force users could do amazing things. She had seen some fantastical feats performed by the Jedi. But she never knew it could do that.

"Her anger?" Padmé asked softly.

"It is something I will need to work with her to control better." He paused as he eyes seemed to travel to the wall that their room shared with Leia's. A slight smile formed on his lips. "What amazing power she already has . . ." He said it a soft voice. More to himself than to her.

"Is this . . . Is this the Dark Side?" Padmé asked.

Vader's gold eyes focused back on his wife. "Of course," he said with an odd cheerful tone. "She's unlocking her rightful power. One day she will be a force to be reckoned with as a powerful Sith."

Padmé didn't respond. Vader turned out the lights and left her alone. But her mind kept replaying the scene from the playroom earlier. The explosion that had come off Leia. The toys and furniture flying away from her. Padmé and the nanny being knocked off their feet.

This was everything Padmé had feared. She would lose her children to the darkness. This had been an accident. Leia had lost control. But this was already the beginning. Already her anger that Vader cultivated was growing stronger to the point where it was hurting others. What would the girl be able to do once she managed to control it? What would she do? What Vader asked her to do? Encouraged her to do?

What would Leia be like as a Sith?

Padmé had feared losing her children to the cruelness of the Dark Side, but she had to admit she didn't know much about the Force. She knew that it had changed the man she loved. Suddenly Anakin had become Vader. Would the same be true for Leia or Luke?

"We'll just have to make sure she can't run away." It was from an old dream, but not a forgotten one. It was right after Vader had killed her rebel crew in front of her eyes. She dreamed of shadow children with glowing yellow eyes and small red lightsabers. They had sliced her legs off, and then one child whispered, "You can't run now."

Padmé awoke in a cold sweat. Pale light of early morning came in through the window. Vader was not in bed beside her. He probably never went to bed last night. She threw the covers off of her and quickly pulled on a robe on for warmth. Her guard didn't stop her or say anything as she hurried from the room. She didn't go far. Just to the next room over.

The door slid open silently, and she walked quietly in. She saw Leia's brown hair in a mess of curls on her pillow. Her blankets were pulled up to her chin. The girl was sound asleep. Padmé quietly approached and looked down at her daughter. The girl looked fine. Peaceful. Slowly and gently Padmé reached down and touched Leia's forehead. Her fingers gently slid into the girl's hair.

Small brown eyes blinked a few times and then looked up at Padmé. It took a few seconds for Leia to register her mother, but once she did she jumped up.

"Mother!" she cried. Small arms wrapped around Padmé's neck. Padmé allowed herself to be dragged down to the bed where Leia fiercely and tightly hugged her mother. "I'm so sorry!" Leia said. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to hurt you or the baby!"

"I'm fine," Padmé said softly. "So is the baby. We're both fine."

A small sob bubbled up out of Leia, and Padmé pulled the girl in tighter. The two held each other for a while. Eventually Luke walked in and crawled into the bed. Padmé pulled him into their hug. She then just held both of them tightly. How she wished she could take on whatever darkness was brewing inside them inside of herself. This was what they should be like. Young sweet children hugging their family.

Eventually Padmé led her children to breakfast. By that time the two seemed to be back to normal. There were giggles and smiles as they ate and joked with each other. Then it was time for them to get dressed and go to their lessons. Padmé found herself standing in the doorway of the playroom. The mess had already been cleaned up. The room was completely empty. A few cleaning droids buzzed around as they polished the walls and floors. New windows had already been put in.

Yet Padmé easily recalled the sound of the windows breaking. The sensation of hitting the very wall behind her. A shiver ran through her. She decided to warm up in the sun and made her way out in to the garden, but of course she was drawn to the window of the playroom. The bushes that had been at the base of the windows were now gone. There was fresh grass planted near the window. Any sign of what had happened yesterday had been taken away and replaced.

Padmé sighed. She walked along the perimeter of the garden, hugging close to the palace walls. She didn't know what to do. She didn't know how to battle against this. She thought she was making progress. She thought she was going to win this. She wasn't going to lose her children the way she had lost her husband.

Was she just blinded? Is that how she had missed the signs with Anakin? She thought her love was enough? It could fix him? Was she being naive? All she wanted was Anakin, his love, and the children. She didn't need anything else. They could run away from it all. Go into the unknown regions of space and find a place to live. Leave it all behind except each other. That was all she wanted. But it wasn't what Anakin or Vader or perhaps even her children wanted.

What did they want? Power? Power to do what? If Padmé had power she would want to rid the galaxy of Vader so she could have Anakin back. Vader claimed he had sought power to protect and save Padmé . . . But yet he kept a hold of the power and appeared to be seeking more. He wanted his children powerful as well. Was it because he wanted them to be able to protect themselves? He was afraid of losing them?

Then what of Leia? The girl had been through so much in the last few months. Perhaps all the changes made her feel like she wasn't in control. The lure of the Dark Side's power brought back a sense of control. That she could protect the ones she loved . . . the same as Vader. Padmé sighed. Her head was spinning. She walked over to the palace wall and placed a hand against it. It grounded her back into the real world. She closed her eyes took a few deep breaths to recenter herself.

How could she fight against that lure of power? The quest to protect yourself and your loved ones? Especially in this galaxy? Especially with the experiences Vader and the children carried? Padmé couldn't even say that they were being over cautious. That bad things wouldn't happen. That they would all be fine. They all had experienced horrible things.

Somehow Padmé had to give her family strength and power, but not in the ways of the Dark Side. So what to do?

She opened eyes and she looked into the window closest to her. They were tall large windows. They peered into the training room. Inside she saw Vader with Leia. Padmé frowned. The children were supposed to be in their lessons. Leia wasn't dressed in her training outfit. It appeared the two were just talking, but Vader was doing most of the talking. Leia looked a bit uncomfortable. Her eyes shifted to the ground. She gently kicked her foot. Vader's expression was stern but also soft.

Were they talking about yesterday?

Both of their heads came up, and they looked towards the interior door. A red guard escorted the nanny from yesterday in. She looked disheveled. She still wore her black uniform dress, but it was torn and tattered. Her hair was messy and frizzy. There were still a few raw red scratches on her face, arms, and legs. But there were also a few bacta patches as well. She had recieved aid, but why did she still look like she had just been thrown out of a window? It was now the next day. Surely the nanny should have been allowed to rest and clean up with some fresh clothes.

Leia's small body tensed up at seeing the nanny walk in. Vader waved his hand sharply dismissing the guard, but the nanny remained. Vader gestured and the nanny followed the command to come forward. Vader was talking and looking from the nanny to Leia. Padmé moved closer to the window. She pressed her hand against the cool transparisteel.

Leia pursed her lips and looked down at the ground guilty. Was Vader talking with his daughter about her actions yesterday? That didn't seem quite like him, but perhaps he was. The nanny seemed to be explaining what had happened. Her brows were furrowed in a mix of concern and fear. Her eyes darted from Vader to Leia. Leia had crossed her arms tightly across her chest and only looked more and more upset.

Vader walked over to Leia and placed a hand on her shoulder. He was talking to her. From the looks of it, he was talking to her calmly. But Leia wasn't calming down. She only became more and more unsettled. Her body shifted under her father's hand. Padmé noticed the nanny had gone pale. She was slowly stepping backwards.

A cold hand was squeezing Padmé's heart. This wasn't right. This was wrong. She noticed Vader's eyes. They were yellow. Not blue. His face was growing darker. He seemed to be growling or snarling his words now. He kept throwing dark glances at the nanny.

No, Padmé thought in her head. She needed to stop this. Whatever it was, it needed to stop. What could she do? Bang against the glass? Would that stop this? Padmé pushed away from the window and hurried along the building towards the nearest door. She had to be in there to stop this. She could calm both Vader and Leia down and get the nanny out of there.

Once inside she kept a brisk pace down the hallway. She couldn't quite run with her pregnant belly. Two red guards stood in the hallway next to the door to the training room. They didn't stop Padmé as she pressed the door panel button. The door slid open and she rushed in. She only took two steps in before she halted.

She was too late.

The nanny was levitating off the ground. She grasped at her neck. Her face was completely white. Her mouth hung open. Her eyes were wide with terror. Padmé felt like she was mirroring the nanny. She felt the blood rush from her face. Her mouth open and her eyes wide.

"She made you hurt your mother," Vader's voice hissed.

Slowly Padmé's eyes saw Vader standing next to Leia. His hand on her shoulder. The two hadn't noticed Padmé. They were both focused on the nanny. Leia's hand was outstretched and her fingers were curled. They looked like claws.

"Kill her," Vader whispered.

Padmé opened her mouth. She had taken in the air and was ready to speak. To stop this. But again she was too late. There was a snapping sound. Leia's small hand was now a fist. Her eyes were yellow. The nanny fell to the ground, and Padmé knew she was dead. She stared at the lifeless heap on the floor.

"Padmé?" Vader asked. She didn't look at him, but heard his boots clicking on the floor as took large steps. "What are you doing here?" His hands came to rest on her shoulders.

"I . . . I . . . was . . ." Vader's gloved hand came under her chin and moved her face away from the nanny to look at him. "Leia . . ." Padmé said breathlessly. "She wasn't in her lessons."

The sharpness in Vader's expression lessened. He nodded. Padmé felt small arms wrap around her swollen stomach. She looked down to see Leia hugging her. Her eyes were now back to their normal warm brown. Padmé place her hand on Leia's head and laced her fingers into the girls hair.

"Well now young one," Vader said. "I believe it is time we get you back to your lessons. We've worried your mother enough. I'm sure your brother misses you too."

Leia nodded and gave Padmé a tight hug. Padmé's head was spinning. What was happening? Why were they both acting so normal? As if a six year old hadn't just killed her nanny? The body still laid mere feet away.

"Come," Vader said as he wrapped his arm around Padmé's shoulders and started to lead her from the room. Leia stayed close to her mother's side. Padmé didn't know what to say. She just let herself be led out of the room. No one said anything as they walked down the hall towards the lesson room.

No. This wasn't right. Padmé stopped, and Vader and Leia stopped as well. They both looked at her. Leia's brows were furrowed deep in concern. Vader's head tilted slightly as he wondered what was wrong. How did they not know? How were they not affected? Someone had just died. Vader had . . . Vader had coached . . . taught his daughter how to kill someone using the Force. Now they were both walking down the hall mere minutes later like it was nothing. Just a regular lesson. But it wasn't! This wasn't right!

There was a sharp pain. Padmé became acutely aware of her womb and uterus. It was tightening. The pain started off minor. It felt like something she might feel during a normal menstrual period, but the pain didn't dull. It kept growing. She let out a gasp and her knees gave out on her. But Vader was right there. His warm, large arms caught her and gently lowered her to the ground.

"Padmé!"

"Mother!"

"I'm- I'm . . . alright," she gasped.

"Guards!" Vader shouted.

Padmé tightly gripped Vader's sleeve. "No. No guards. I'm fine. It's fine."

"I'm getting the doctor," Vader said sternly.

"This is normal. It's just contractions," she said.

"This strong this early?" Vader asked. He was right. It was still too early. The baby wasn't due for another four weeks. The pain hit again. This couldn't be . . . She couldn't be going into labor. It was too early. Tears formed into her eyes.

"Moth-mother!" Leia cried.

"Don't worry, Leia," Padmé said giving her daughter a weak smile. "It's just the baby."

"Is it ok?" Leia asked.

"Yes-yes. She's just moving around. Getting ready to come out."

"Does it hurt?"

Padmé gave another weak smile. She could feel a cold sweat start to form on her skin. "Sweetheart, there is a baby kicking and pushing on my insides. Yes, it does hurt. But every mother feels this way when it comes close to give birth."

"Oh," Leia said. But there was a relief in her eyes as she came to understand the situation. "So the baby is going to come out right now?"

No. It couldn't come. Not yet. Padmé squeezed her eyes as another contraction tightened. From her chest to her knees, her body ached and stretched and burned. A wave came over her and suddenly she was back on her silver yacht. The blue whorls of hyperspace had just died away. The glowing red planet of Mustafar loomed large out of her viewport.

Anakin was down there. She had to go see him after everything Obi-Wan had told her. Surely what he had said wasn't true. Anakin wouldn't . . . He wouldn't. He was a good man. A good Jedi. She leaned over to press a button on the control board, but sharp pain went shooting up her spine. Her hand grabbed her back as she gasped out in pain. It took a few seconds, but the pain died away. Her breathing was heavy. Her body trembled. Again she reached forward towards the buttons. She needed to get down to the surface. She needed to be with Anakin.

But the pain came back. It was worse. Ten times worse. A hundred times worse. Each nerve felt like it was on fire. She grabbed at her stomach. The baby! She had to protect the baby. It was her last thought as her eyes closed and her body fell into darkness.

She realized she had fallen over. But she wasn't on her ship. Mustafar was far away. And Anakin was right here. He was shouting her name. Shouting for a doctor. For the guards. Leia was holding Padmé's hand. The girl was crying. But Padmé couldn't speak. She couldn't even open her mouth. It was happening again! She was slipping away.

Anakin . . . You promised everything would be fine.

The darkness claimed her again and everything went black.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 34: The Note

There was crying. A high pitched wail of a baby. Padmé tried to move, but she felt so heavy. Her body barely listened to her. The baby was crying, and she knew it was her baby! She just had to get up. She could feel the soft silkiness of bed sheets and a pillow cradling her head. But her eyes were so heavy.

Then she heard the baby's crying start to calm down. Her heart relaxed, but she knew she had to get up. She had to tend to her baby. It needed her.

"Padmé?" asked a voice. A soft voice she knew so well. "Padmé?" it asked again. "Wake up."

Her eyes suddenly shot open. She sat up with a big gasp. The bed sheets fell down to her lap. She looked up. There stood Anakin. His blue eyes were filled with deep concern. He held a small baby swaddled in a soft yellow blanket. "Padmé? Are you alright?" he asked.

He gently lowered himself down onto the side of the mattress. He slowly handed over the baby. She looked down at it. At her. At the little baby girl. She had brown curly hair like her mother and sister. Her eyes were closed and her cheeks were still red from crying. Padmé brought the baby up so she could kiss her forehead.

Somewhere beyond the room came a shout, "Mommy! Daddy!'

Anakin sighed and shook his head. "They want to go swimming today," he said softly.

"Swim . . . swimming?" she asked.

"I know. They ask to go every day," he said with a smile. He stood up and stretched. Then he leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. "I'll go make breakfast. See you soon." Then he left. He left through a door . . . a wooden door. An old fashioned door. That was odd . . .

She looked around. The room was made up of soft curves and floral motifs. Warm yellow light came in through the window. Slowly and carefully she got out of bed. She made sure she had a good grip on the baby. She walked over to the window and gasped. Blue sparkling water stretched out until they reached soft rolling green hills. She knew this scenery. She knew this place. Varykino. Her lake house on Naboo.

She walked in a daze out of the room and down the hall. She made it down to the dining room. Luke and Leia sat at the table shoveling food into their mouths. Anakin sat with a cup of caf and a smile on his face as he watched his children eat. The moment she entered, his blue eyes lit up when he saw her.

"Mommy!" Leia shouted with a mouth full of food.

"Good morning mommy!" Luke said cheerfully.

"Daddy is going to take us swimming!" Leia said.

"After breakfast and some meditation," Anakin said in a fatherly tone.

"Meditation?" Luke groaned.

"Yes, meditation, young ones."

"We won't be able to meditate!" Leia said. "This isn't the time to meditate!"

"This is exactly the time to meditate," Anakin said. "You must learn to control your emotions. To stay calm."

Leia pursed her lips clearly not happy with anything coming in between her and swimming.

"You can do it," Anakin said gently. "In fact I believe you be able to do it so fast, that you'll be able to get through meditating and on to swimming before the ninth hour."

Both twins perked up at that and went back to eating. Anakin flashed Padmé a smile and winked at her. She slowly walked up and sat down at the table. The baby was still sound asleep in her arms. The twins finished eating at the same time. They picked up their plates and rushed off to put them in the sink.

"We'll be waiting!" Luke shouted from the hallway. Then the sound of little feet were heard scampering down the hallway.

Anakin smiled, shook his head, and took a sip from his mug. He sighed. "This is nice," he said.

"Nice?" she asked.

"This. You. Me. The twins. The baby. Varykino. You were right."

"I was? About what?"

"About us. About me leaving the Order."

"Leaving . . .?"

"Daddy!" a shout came from down the hall.

"Coming!" Anakin shouted back. He stood up and collected his mug. Again he leaned over and kissed his wife on the head. "I've got some meditating to do." Then he walked out of the room.

The baby wiggled in her arms. The little one was waking up, but Padmé's thoughts were elsewhere. This wasn't right. Why was she at Varykino? She was . . . She was on Imperial Center, not Naboo. It wasn't Anakin . . . it was Vader. A soft whimper caused Padmé to look down. The baby wiggled and slowly opened her eyes. Padmé wondered if she would have blue or brown eyes, but they were neither. They were yellow. Padmé gasped as she almost dropped the baby, but managed to hold on.

"Mother! Mother!"

Padmé looked up. Luke and Leia had walked back in. But they weren't the same two children who were here moments ago. They wore all black. They carried little red lightsabers. And like their baby sister, their eyes were yellow.

"Mother!" Leia said happily as she walked over. Luke was right behind her. "You won't believe what father just taught us!"

"Taught you?" Padmé asked quietly.

"Watch!" Leia said. She brought her red lightsaber up and then swiped it down low. She brought it down towards her mother. The blade went right through Padmé's legs. There was no pain. But now she had no legs below her knee. "See?" Leia shouted excitedly.

"What are you two doing?" Vader asked as he walked into the room. The twins jumped and turned around. He wore all black, which only brought out his yellow eyes.

"Father!" they both shouted happily.

"Look!" Leia said and pointed to Padmé. Vader smiled.

"Excellent job my apprentices," he said. The twins smiled and beamed with pride at the compliment.

"Now mother won't leave!" Luke said.

Vader walked up and stopped right beside Padmé. "No, she won't," he said with a smile. It was a cruel twisted smile. It had none of the warmth of the Anakin from moments ago. A sob broke out of Padmé. How did this happen? How did things come to this? How had her family become attackers and murders? She squeezed her eyes shut. This wasn't what she wanted.

When she opened her eyes, she woke up. The dream slowly faded away. Instead of the beautiful curved architecture of Varykino, she was met with a plain white ceiling. There were soft noises of machines whirring and a gentle but steady beeping sound. Actually it was two beeping sounds. One over the other. She rolled her head to the side. She saw various medical machines beeping and blinking.

She rolled her head the other way. Sitting in a chair right next to her bed was . . . Anakin? Or was it Vader? Her dream had left her so confused. He was slumped in the chair. His head rested against his shoulder. His eyes were closed as he slept, and his arms were crossed loosely across his chest.

"Ana . . . Ana . . . kin?" she said in barely a whisper.

At once his eyes snapped opened. They were a bright blue. His head jerked up and he looked right at her.

"Pad . . . Padmé?" he said as he stared wide eyed at her. "Padmé? Padmé?" His hands, one warm and soft and the other covered in leather, were gently cupping her face. "Padmé?" he said. His voice more hopeful this time around. "You're awake. How . . . how are you feeling?"

"Anakin?" she asked softly.

"I'm here, Padmé," he said.

Was it true? Was this Anakin? Or was it Vader? Or was there any difference between the two? They were just two sides of the same coin.

He had kept on talking. "You're fine. You're safe. The baby is fine. Everything is fine."

Was it? Or was he lying? She wasn't in pain. She slowly lifted on of her hands to her round stomach. She gently and slowly rubbed her belly. There was no pain. But there was also no movement. She let out a soft gasp.

"It's fine," Anakin repeated. "The baby is fine. I told you everything would be fine. Everything is."

She wanted to believe him. She wanted to believe all the health monitors around her including the one showing her heart beat and the baby's. But she couldn't stop the fear gnawing at her heart. Hot tears quickly built up in her eyes and started to fall down her face. Anakin brushed the tears away with his thumbs.

"Shhhh. Shhhh," he said softly. "It's ok, my angel. It's ok."

He leaned over and placed his forehead against hers. He softly pressed his lips against her skin and left gentle almost-barely-there kisses.

"I promise," he whispered between his kisses. "Nothing is going to hurt you or the baby. Nothing is going to take either one of you away from me."

 


Padmé had been ordered on bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. Vader made sure the order was enforced. She barely left her room. Barely left the corner of her bedroom. If she wasn't in bed, she was reclining in a large comfy chair by the window. The children had brought their toys into the room and piled them around her chair. When it was playtime, they played happily around the chair or in the bed if that was where she was. Toys often got left and hidden in the sheets, often causing Vader to curse and growl when he rolled over on top of them when he came to bed. He would look at the toy, sigh deeply, and then toss it off the bed.

It was early afternoon after lunch. The twins didn't have lessons today, and were sprawled out on the floor in front of Padmé who sat in her chair. She smiled as she watched her children play. This is what she wanted for them. Luke and Leia needed to be children. Sweet, innocent children who laughed and played and got into small fights with each other over toys. Not training with lightsabers or murdering nannies.

A cold chill washed over her as she looked at Leia. How could the little girl playing with her brother have killed someone so cold heartedly? Had she killed again since that time? Had Luke? Padmé sighed. She still didn't how to help her family, but she hadn't given up. Not yet. But for now she enjoyed these small moments. At the very least, her children weren't completely lost.

The hair on the back of Padmé's neck stood on end. Goosebumps ran down her arm and back. Her heart squeezed and her breath stalled in her throat. She sat up. Luke and Leia had stopped playing and looked over at their mother. Their eyes were wide. Padmé opened her mouth. She didn't even know what she was going to say, but never had a chance.

The explosion hit. The glass of the window behind Padmé shattered. The room and the furniture shook. The twins screamed as they instinctively curled up and covered their heads with their arms. Padmé also curled up and wrapped her arms around her stomach. There was a ringing in her ears as the world calmed down.

At once the royal Red Guard poured into the room. They all wore the dark red outfits without the cape and helmets. They collected the twins off the floor and two helped Padmé out of her chair. A hover chair was quickly brought into the room, and the guards sat her down in it. At once she was being quickly pushed out of the room.

Another explosion rocked the palace. The procession paused. Small bits of wall and ceiling cracked and fell around them. The guards didn't wait for the shaking to settle before they pushed her on. They came to a large section of wall. A guard pushed at a hidden button and the whole wall slid back to reveal a hidden turbolift. The twins and Padmé were pushed inside with a few of the guards. The doors sealed shut and the lift started to descend.

"Family in turbolift," one guard said into a comlink on his wrist. If there was a reply, she heard none of it. The lift had yet to stop. They were going quite a ways down, and it went deeper still. It seemed to grow steadily colder. How many levels were they going? She felt her ears pop as the descent continued. The twins had moved to either side of her chair. Both grabbed on to her arms.

Finally after a very long and quiet ride, the lift stopped and the doors opened to a large white metal hallway. The guards brought the family down the hall and through a set of opened doors. As they passed by the doors, she could see they were heavy and thick blast doors. After they passed by, the doors started to slowly slide shut.

This place was a security shelter. A panic room. That was why they were so deep underground with the thick doors. No doubt the whole place was lined in equally thick durasteel. The halls were a curved smooth light gray. The guards said nothing as they brought the family into a large bedroom. A large bed sat against one wall. Padmé stood up and sat on the bed. The children at once crawled into the bed and sat besides her.

"What's happening?" Padmé asked the nearest guard.

"Rebel attack," the guard answered. "You'll be safe here."

"Fath . . . father?" Luke asked softly in a small voice. The guard looked down at the boy.

"And Vader?" Padmé asked. "The Emperor?"

"Will be down as soon as he has handled things back on the surface," the guard said. And with that the guards left the room. There were no windows. Only the door leading out and another door possibly leading to a refresher. She wrapped an arm around both of the twins and pulled them close. The two wrapped their arms around her. The three sat there in the silence deep underground hugging each other.


Vader came hours after the twins had fallen asleep. The three had crawled into the large bed after spending a few hours exploring the underground shelter. Luckily the twins had fallen asleep easily, but Padmé was wide awake. Vader walked straight to the bed and just stood there staring. His face was soft and creased full of a mix of relief and worry. Then he slowly got undressed and ready for bed. He carefully crawled in and came to rest on the other side of Leia. He placed his head on the pillow. His yellow eyes looked at his wife.

"Is . . . is everything ok?" Padmé whispered.

He just looked at her. His eyes traveled to the sleeping children and to her round stomach. He took a deep sigh. "Rebels," he finally whispered back.

"Rebels?"

"They bombed the palace. Both our home and the Imperial Palace."

"I thought . . . I thought you kept our home a secret . . ." To her knowledge Vader let the public think he lived in the Imperial Palace, the former Jedi Temple.

"I did," he said. "It seems I have a traitor to deal with." His words were hard with a dangerous edge. "The rebels seem to be still after our children. Most likely Kenobi's doing," Vader hissed softly still careful not to wake the children.

She couldn't hide the small hitch in her breath. She tightened her hold around the two children snuggled at her side.

"Don't worry," Vader whispered. "You're safe here."

Her eyes traveled to ceiling. "How long?" she asked.

"Hmm?"

"How long are we to stay down here? If the palace was bombed . . . It won't be ready to return to soon."

He didn't answer. He just stared. No doubt he would prefer to keep them locked away down here. Safe and hidden from all.

"We can't stay down here," Padmé whispered. "This is no place for the children . . . and the baby. I can't give birth down here."

Vader let out a groan as he turned his head towards the ceiling.

"We could go . . . go to Naboo. To Varykino. We could have the baby there . . . just like we planned before with . . . with the twins," she said. She recalled the dream. The happy part of the dream. The five of them living happily on Naboo.

"Too expected," Vader said.

She knew he would say no, but it still hurt to hear it. She took a deep breath and glanced down at the children. They were both still asleep.

"Mustafar."

"What?" she asked.

"Mustafar," Vader repeated as he glanced at her. A cold chill ran through her. "I have a fortress there. It's secret. Safe. Secured. And there is already a small fleet there. It's perfect."

She pursed her lips wanting to argue that it was not perfect, but said nothing. She let her head rest against the pillow. Eventually sleep claimed her. When she awoke Vader and the children were gone. She was alone in the large bed and the eerie room with no windows. She sighed and rolled over. She was sure the children were either with their father or with the guards. It would be best to try and get some more sleep while they were away.

She slipped her hand under the pillow, but it quickly touched something. Her hand curled around it. It was a piece of flimsi. She pulled the paper the out and unfolded it. She recognized Anakin's unruly handwriting. It read:

I've done what I can. You said you could escape if you were back on a ship. Decide what life you want. I'll love you no matter what. - A

Tears pooled in her eyes and quickly streamed down her face. Oh, Anakin. Her sweet, loving Anakin. He was Vader's traitor. Somehow he was behind the bombing so Vader would move her and the twins somewhere else. So he would put them on a ship, giving Padmé the chance to escape.

Now the question was, would she? Could she?

Chapter Text

Chapter 35: The Plan

Vader had left Padmé and the twins inside the command cabin of the shuttle. Most likely to pilot the shuttle himself up to his waiting star destroyer. The twins were vibrating in excitement. They were disappointed that the command cabin had no windows, but they bounced in their seats as the shuttle took off. Padmé tried her best to focus on them, but her mind kept wandering. Luckily it was a short ride. Most likely Vader's ship was waiting in orbit.

Vader returned to the cabin and the children jumped all around him.

"Are we here?" Luke asked. "Are we on your ship? Can see your other ships?"

"Will we get to see the planet? Will be able to see our home?" Leia asked.

A small smile spread across Vader's lips. "Maybe," he said as he placed a hand on top of each child's head in an attempt to calm them. They both grabbed on to his hands as he led them out. Padmé slowly followed behind. She paused once she was in the small hallway. Vader and the twins were almost to the loading ramp, but Padmé quietly turned the other direction. The cockpit door was open and luckily there was no co-pilot inside.

Padmé's eyes quickly darted around the cockpit. Through cockpit windows she could see the hangar of the star destroyer. It was deserted. Only a few droids rolled around. Her eyes quickly fell on the communication's array. She leaned over, which wasn't easy with her round stomach, and pressed a button. A code cylinder popped out of a compartment. She snatched it up and turned sharply around. Then she made her way back down to the hallway and down the ramp.

Vader and the twins were waiting for her.

"Mother," Luke said. "Are you ok?"

"You were taking quite a while," Vader said. His eyes were blue.

"I can only move so fast," Padmé said patting her stomach. Vader's eyes flicked down to her stomach.

"I shall get a hover chair here at once," he said.

"No, I can walk," she said.

He frowned. "The doctor said you needed to be off your feet. You need to take it easy."

She huffed, but didn't argue. It was luckily a short wait until a red royal guard came with a hover chair. She slowly lowered herself down into it and let herself be pushed. Perhaps it was for the best she wasn't walking. It allowed her to get a good look of the path from the hangar to Vader's quarters. The path she would need to take to get herself and her children to freedom. She was amazed at how direct the path was. She wondered if that hangar had been Vader's private hangar. No doubt the Emperor would have his own hangar aboard his own flagship.

A chill washed over her as they came to a familiar long corridor. All too soon they had stopped at a rather nondescript door. Vader walked up and keyed a code into the door panel. The door silently slid open. Vader walked in first, followed by the children, then the guards pushing Padmé's hover chair. They walked into a small short hallway. The door closed behind them and only then did the door in front of them open.

The doors can't open at the same time, Padmé noted. This would be the first obstacle to overcome in an escape. Then she should need to get through the ship to the hangar. Once there she would need to find a ship that could carry her and the twins. Hopefully the code cylinder she had taken from the shuttle earlier would give codes to allow her to depart safely.

Through the doors. Through the ship. To a shuttle. Into space. That was only four things, and yet it seemed as if it were four hundred things. But the biggest problem of all was going to be getting out of here. For she was back. Back in the same rooms she had been brought to all those months ago.

Luke and Leia were happy to be back. They ran around the bare living area, into Padmé's bedroom, and then dashed into their own room. Vader watched it all with a small smile on his face, but then his attention fell on Padmé. His smile fell. He dismissed the guards with a sharp wave of his hand. They silently bowed and left promptly. Vader grasped the handles of the chair and steered into the bedroom.

Once inside, Vader held his hand out. Padmé took it, and he helped her out of the chair. Her free hand came to rest on top of her swollen stomach. Vader's other hand came to rest softly on her lower back as he led her to the bed. Her helped her sit on the bed. He piled up the pillows behind her back and head to make her comfortable. There was a high-pitched screech of children. Both parents paused.

"Maybe you should go check on them," Padmé said softly. Vader looked intently towards the door for a moment, before he looked back down at her.

"They're fine," he said. "Just being children."

He walked over to the viewport and clasped his hands behind his back. As if on cue, the distant stars stretched into long lines as the ship jumped to hyperspace. Imperial Center had been floating off to the lower left. The jump had been straight ahead, but with that vector . . .

"I thought you said we were going to Mustafar," she said.

Vader glanced over his shoulder at her. "We'll be going a roundabout route to throw off any Rebels tracking my movements. Plus, I have a stop to make first."

"Ah," was all she could say. She glanced down at her stomach. At the baby growing inside of her. Her hand came to rest on top of it. Her due date was fast approaching. What life awaited this small one? Padmé hadn't heard Vader approached. She jumped as his gloved hand came to rest on top of hers.

She looked up at him. His eyes were blue and soft. His flesh hand came up and cupped her face. "Everything will be fine," he said softly. His thumb gently rubbed back and forth against her cheek.

"How can you be so certain?" she asked. "I feel like every time things finally go well, something else happens. And . . . And . . ." She paused as she looked at him. "And I'm scared," she admitted.

Vader sat down on the edge of the bed and wrapped his arms around her. He brought her to him and she rested her head against his shoulder. He kissed the top of her head.

"Don't worry," he said. "I'm here. I won't let anything harm you or the children."

She squeezed her eyes shut and desperately wanted to believe his promise.


She was questioning her decision. Perhaps she should stay. He was trying. Vader. Anakin. Both of them were trying. Shouldn't she try as well? How could she just throw this all away? They could be a family. Vader was right. The only thing that was holding that back was her.

She laid in her bed glancing at the streaks of hyperspace rubbing her stomach. The twins bounced in.

"Mother! Mother!" Leia said with a large smile on her face.

She jumped on the bed and crawled over to her mother. Luke was a bit more subdued. He also got on the bed and snuggled up to his mother opposite of Leia. Padmé wrapped her arms around them both. She kissed their foreheads. Luke kissed her back.

"Mother," Leia said. "Father has a training room here on his ship!" A cold sinking feeling settled in the pit of Padmé's stomach. "He took us in there to train today with battle droids."

"What?" Padmé asked. "Battle droids?" Her stomach twisted into knots at the thought of her babies fighting battle droids.

"They didn't do anything though," Leia said as she crossed her arms across her chest and pouted.

"They didn't have blasters," Luke explained. "They just walked around."

Padmé tightened her hold on the two of them, but that was short lived. Eventually the twins wiggled free as they grew bored and wanted to go play. She let them as that was what they should be doing. It was late into the night cycle that she saw Vader.

"You should be resting," he said as he started to undress.

"I am in bed almost all day. I assure you I get plenty of sleep."

He pulled off his undershirt leaving his golden skinned chest bare. He unhooked his lightsaber and placed on the nightstand on his side of the bed. When he had first brought her here, he never wore it. He never brought it with him when he spent time with her or the children. But now? It was always near, always within his reach.

"I heard you were using battle droids with the twins today," she said. Her throat was tight.

He sighed as he laid his head down on the pillow. His flesh hand gently grabbed her arm and tugged on it. He wanted her to lay down so he could cuddle. She moved her arm out of reach.

"What were you thinking?" she continued. "Battle droids? Really? They are six years old!"

"Padmé, we have had this conversation before," he murmured. "I will not let the children get hurt."

Out of the corner of her eye she noted his eyes were gold. That night she stayed awake a long time after he had fallen asleep. She had to get the twins and herself off the ship before it got to Mustafar. Vader wasn't relenting about training the twins. She only saw it getting worse from here. Soon she would lose them as she had her husband.

Leave the quarters, go down the hall, go down the turbolift, get to a ship in the hangar, use the access codes she had stolen, and get off the ship. That's all it was between her and freedom. But the hardest part was the first part. She had to leave the quarters. How was she going to do that?

The main entrance was through a small hallway. The two doors could not be opened at the same time. Even if she did worm her way past one door, could she get through the second? There was also probably a good amount of security around those doors as well. Guards watching holocams. It would be for the best not to force the doors open. The best option would be to either get the access code to the door or have someone else open them. But who?

She glanced down at the sleeping man next to her. Anakin had said he had done all he could in arranging the attack on the palace. She had a feeling he wouldn't be surfacing any time soon. That also meant she would be dealing with Vader. He needed to be distracted. He would be the one thing that could ruin the plan at any stage.

For now she moved back to the door problem. Despite having come and gone from these quarters a few times, she hadn't always been awake when she had. She recalled the times she did remember. The time earlier today, the time Vader took her down to see Rion, and . . . And had there been one more time? She had been heavy with a fever the first time he brought her in. The time he brought her to the crystal moon, she had been asleep. When she came back, she had been too injured.

But there seemed to be something slipping her mind. She had left one more time . . . That was right . . . It was after Vader had killed her crew. She had sat at the viewport. She had sat there lost in thought unaware she had become dehydrated and weakened. When Vader returned and saw her state, he rushed her out of the room to the med bay.

He rushed her out . . . in a panic . . . in a distracted state of mind.

How could she get him to do that again? She needed him to panic and to run out of the quarters. But what would get him in such a state of mind?

You, said a voice inside of her. Fake labor pains. Fake your water breaking.

No. That would not do. It couldn't be her. His focus had to be on something else that wasn't her, so she could make her escape. She didn't have much time to plan and execute an escape. Vader may be taking a roundabout route to Mustafar, but eventually they would arrive.

Eventually she slid back down into the bed and let sleep claim her. Her sleep was restless and filled with dreams she didn't remember upon waking. She was left feeling cold on the inside.

She had spent the morning dozing and was woken up by the pounding of small feet. The twins jumped into her bed. Both were full of smiles. She smiled, sat up, and welcomed them with a tight hug and kisses. They both giggled.

"What have you two been up this morning?" she asked.

"We got to watch father fight!" Leia said. Luke nodded.

"Fi-fight?" Padmé asked in a soft voice. "Fight what?"

"Droids," Luke said. "They had spiney staffs that sparked!"

"Father was so cool and amazing!" Leia chimed in.

"Yeah he was so wizard!" Luke added.

"He was fsshooom and then vashzzzm," Leia said as she waved her arms around if wielding a lightsaber herself.

"And then he flipped over them!"

"Yeah!"

"I can't wait to do that!"

"Father said we had to wait until we are bigger and know our lightsaber forms better though."

"But he did said he would show us how to throw things around like he did that one droid!"

"Yeah when it went flying into the wall. And then it crumpled all up in sparks and lights?"

"Imagine if you could do that to all the mean scary people?" Luke asked. Leia nodded. Luke continued, "We would be able to protect mother."

"And the baby! Mother we would protect you!" Leia said as she cuddled against her mother's side. She placed a hand on Padmé's stomach.

"Thank you," Padmé said with a sad smile. "But let's leave the protecting to father, shall we?"

"But what if father isn't there?" Leia asked.

Luke looked up at his mother big round blue eyes. "What if mean bad people come again?" Luke asked in a hushed voice.

What could Padmé say? That there wouldn't be any such incidents? She opened mouth hoping she would find the right words, but never got around to saying anything.

"Your mother is right," came Vader's voice. The twins jumped up to see their father walking in through the door. He had a smile on his face while he held up his lightsaber hilt. "I'll protect you all."

He walked over the bed and clipped his saber hilt to his belt.

"But what about if you're not there?" Leia asked. "Like . . . like before?"

Vader's face crumpled. He sat on the edge of the bed and placed his flesh hand on the top of Leia's head.

"I will try to make sure that will never happen again," he said softly.

"Vader," Padmé hissed softly at him. He couldn't make such promises. He couldn't stay on Mustafar with them. He had to return back to Imperial Center eventually. Vader's gold eyes flashed up at her, and then he was looking back at his children.

"But," he said with a sly smile, "Eventually you two will be able to help me keep everyone safe." Both twin's faces grew with a huge smile. "Once you've gotten further in your training, of course," he added.

"Yes!" Leia said. "And we can get rid of bad guys?"

Vader laughed. "Of course. I'm sure one day you'll help get rid of all the bad guys in the whole galaxy."

"The whole galaxy?" Luke asked. His eyes were large and bright. He leaned forward slightly towards Vader.

"Yes," Vader said. "Wouldn't that be a nice? A peaceful galaxy?" The twins both smiled and nodded.

Vader took the twins to go eat lunch, allowing Padmé to think in quiet. He came back in offering her a plate of food, but she wasn't hungry. Her stomach was in knots. She felt like if she ate anything she would throw up.

She knew exactly what peaceful galaxy Vader was talking about. A galaxy under his rule following his laws. Everything doing exactly what he wanted them to do. And to make sure they stayed that way, he would use the Empire's military and his schemes to invoke fear to keep people in line. What would happen if he had another Force user on his side? What if he had two? Or three? What would he ask her children to do?

Vader returned alone a short time later. He glanced at her untouched food.

"You need to eat," he said softly. He sat down on the edge of the bed right next to her. "You're pale. Should I call the doctor?"

"No," she replied weakly. "It's just indigestion. It happens a lot when you have a baby pressing on you."

He wrapped his arm around her and placed his head against her shoulder. His lips found her neck and left a few small kisses there.

"What do you see?" she asked. Her voice barely a whisper.

"Hmm?"

"For the future of your Empire? With the twins? With the baby? What do you see? What will they become?"

"Wonderful," he said. "Beautiful. Strong." He kissed her neck again. "I can finally see peace coming to the galaxy for good. With my family at my side, my Empire will grow strong. Far stronger than Palpatine's ever would be."

He gave one last kissed before he stood back up. He told her not to hesitate to ask for something different to eat before he left. Her hands tightly gripped the bedsheets. It was as she had feared. Vader would use his children as chess pieces in his game of galactic conquest all while thinking what he was doing was best.

In the morning, the ship had exited hyperspace. A large red planet with thin rings came into out the viewport.

"Geonosis."

Padmé turned to see Vader walk into the room. He looked every bit the Emperor. He wore fancy black clothes, his long black cloak, and his lightsaber. He walked up to the viewport.

"Geonosis?" Padmé asked. "This is your stop? What is here?"

The planet had been reported to be desolate due to being sterilized. Though that wasn't information made public, but it was something Padmé had come across in her years working to undermine the Empire. Vader's ship was turning. The planet slipped away from view, but it let her see what was in orbit around the planet. There were various stations, construction modules, and lots of Imperial ships. But what caught her eye, what took her breath away, was the large unfinished space station.

"What is that?" she whispered.

"The DS-1 Orbital Battle Station," he replied.

A chill ran through her. "The ultimate weapon," she said. Her voice barely audible to even herself. The information that had started it all. She had been trying to find where Vader was building his new super weapon. It was what led to be caught. She couldn't believe how huge it was.

"I have a meeting to attend to," he said. "I will be back later."

And then he was gone. She barely recalled the rest of the day. She felt frozen while time zipped by around her. Soon Vader was back, and it felt like he had only just left.

"Padmé?" he asked. "Have . . . have you eaten anything?"

"No," she said not even looking at him. "Indigestion."

He muttered to himself. She wasn't aware he had called the doctor until the doctor stood at her beside. She gave Padmé a shot, lectured her on eating, and gave her a bottle of liquid medicine to help with indigestion. Padmé thanked her, and tried her best to eat a clear broth soup Vader brought her.

The twins came to see her before they went to bed. They crawled up to her and looked at the battle station.

"Father said we couldn't go with him to go see the space station," Leia said a bit sadly.

Luke added, "He said maybe next time."

"He also said it has a super big laser on it, and that one day we may get to fire it!"

"I wonder what happens if you fire it into a black hole," Luke said.

"Nothing," Leia said. "It's a black hole. It just sucks it up."

"It could explode," Luke argued back.

"Nu uh. Black holes eat anything. Even lasers. Right, mother?"

"Uh huh," Padmé said absentmindedly.

Her mind was stuck on one thing. One day we may get to fire it. One day we may get to fire it. We may. One day her children would fire a super laser and destroy a planet. She gave the children a kiss, and they went off to bed.

The plan came to her over the next few hours. It left a horrible cold feeling inside of her. It wasn't perfect. It was horribly flawed. But it should work. She hoped. If it didn't . . . Needles stabbed her heat. It bled ice cold blood into her stomach. Once she started, there would be no stopping it. No coming back. But she had to do this. It was for the best.

Chapter Text

Chapter 36: The Escape

Vader followed his schedule. He woke up early. Eventually he collected the children and took them to the training room. Padmé eased herself out of bed. She clutched her bottle of indigestion medicine, made her way into the sitting room and to the kitchen. There she started to prepare lunch. It was a simple soup. It was all she thought she could handle. Her eyes kept darting over to the medicine bottle.

Right at lunch time the twins bounced in. They paused as they saw Padmé in the kitchen.

"Mother!" they both shouted happily.

"Shouldn't you be in bed?" Luke asked as he came up and hugged her.

"It's ok if I get up for a little bit," Padmé reminded them. Leia came up and hugged her mother as well. Padmé asked, "Where is your father?"

"He's coming," Leia said. She eyed the bowls sitting on the counter. "Did you make lunch?"

"Yes . . ." Padmé said softly.

"I'm starving!" Luke said as he skipped over to the small dining table.

Leia joined him. The two looked eagerly over at Padmé once they were seated.

"Let's wait for your father," Padmé said.

Leia pursed her lips and Luke frowned.

"What did you two do today with your father?" Padmé asked. At once they both lit up.

"We practiced our lightsabers!" Leia said excitedly.

"We didn't fight against anything," Luke said. "We just had to practice our katas."

"Yeah it was kind of boring," Leia added. "But we got to watch father go through his katas!"

"He's really fast!"

"I want to be as fast as him!"

"You will be one day," Vader said as he walked in to the sitting room from the hallway. He had a smile on his lips as he approached the table. His blue eyes looked up at his wife. "Padmé?" he asked.

"I prepared lunch," she said.

"You didn't need to," Vader said. "I could have the droids or even the cooks prepare something."

"Yes, I know," Padmé said a bit annoyed. "But I'm just . . . restless. I'm so tired of being in that bed. I just feel so . . . useless."

Vader frowned. He stepped around the table and wrapped his arms around her.

"You are not useless, my love," he whispered. He kissed her forehead. "Though I do suspect you are going a bit stir crazy." He let his hands fell away as he glanced over at that counter. "And what have you made us? Soup?"

"Yes-yes," she said. "Have a seat, I'll get them."

"You sure? I can help," Vader said.

"If you want to help, get the spoons and drinks."

Vader smiled and nodded. Padmé grabbed the bowls off the counter. She placed a bowl at each seat. Vader and Padmé sat opposite of each other with the twins between them on either side. Luke and Leia dipped their spoons in deeply into the soup. Luke shoved the spoon into his mouth. At once his face lit up.

"Mmmm!" he said as he dipped in his spoon for another bite.

Leia looked at her brother and then cautiously tried the soup as well. Her face lit up as well.

"It's yummy!" she said.

Vader smiled at the children and then he too took a bite. "Shaak cheese soup?" he asked.

Padmé forced a smile on her face and nodded.

"One of the few dishes you know how to actually make," Vader teased.

"Also one we had ingredients for," Padmé said.

The children and Vader ate their soup. Luke practically licked his bowl clean. He eyed Padmé's still untouched and full bowl.

"Are you going to eat?" he asked her.

"No . . . I . . ." she said and glanced over at the bottle of medicine. The empty bottle. "I'm afraid my stomach is just in knots."

"Padmé," Vader said in a soft but stern voice. "You have to eat something."

"There was some fresh fruit in the kitchen. Perhaps you could get me some?"

Vader nodded and went to the kitchen. Leia had finished her soup. Luke had sunk down in his chair. He frowned and rubbed his belly. Then he burped. Leia shot him a nasty glare and rolled her eyes.

"Mother," Leia said, "How much longer until the baby gets here?"

"Not much longer," Padmé said. "Should be another two weeks."

Vader returned and placed a plate of sliced up fruit in front of Padmé. He collected all the bowls, placed them in the sink, and returned them to the kitchen. Luke let out another loud burp.

"Ew gross," Leia said. Luke weakly smiled but then frowned.

"I think I ate too much," he said.

"Probably ate too fast as well," Vader said as he sat back down at the table.

"Father are you going back to the space station today?" Leia asked.

"Yes," Vader replied.

"Can you take us with you this time? You said next time you'd take us."

"I meant next time we come here. First we need to get both of you and your mother to our new home. Don't want to have a baby on a warship."

"Hmph," Leia said softly as she crossed her arms across her chest.

Padmé absentmindedly picked up a piece of fruit. Her eyes kept going back over to her medicine bottle. She put the fruit into her mouth, but as she chewed she knew it was going to be a struggle to even sallow. Her throat was tight. Her mouth was salviating. Her stomach turned in painful knots. She slowly forced the fruit down. She clenched her hands into fists under the table as she fought back the nausea.

Vader and Leia were talking, but Padmé wasn't focused on what they were saying. Their words were drowned out by the sound of her own heart pounding in her chest, her stomach rumbling, and a slight buzzing sound in her ears. Her hands were getting sweaty. She wiped them on the skirt of her dress.

She glanced over at Vader. There was a happy expression on his face as he talked with his daughter. He seemed at ease. Relaxed. Padmé looked back down at her plate and the mostly untouched fruit. Luke pushed his chair back. The sound, though in reality soft, grated on Padmé's ears. She flinched.

"I don't feel good," Luke said.

Padmé looked up at her son. He did not look good. His face had gone pale. His face sagged in a deep frown.

"You should go lay down," Vader said softly. Padmé looked over at him. His face bore a concerned frown. "I'll be in there in a minute with some tummy medicine."

Luke nodded and started to make his way to the hallway. He moved slow. There was a tightness inside Padmé. It seemed to be squeezing her throughout. Her stomach, her heart, her throat, her mind. She couldn't breath. She couldn't think. She just watched as her son suddenly stopped next to one of the sofas. Then he hunched over and vomited.

"Ew!" Leia said.

"Luke!" Vader shouted as he jumped up and rushed over to the boy. Vader crouched down and put a hand on Luke's back. "It's ok," Vader whispered. "Let's get you into the refresher."

Luke nodded, but then his eyes went wide. He hunched over and vomited again.

"Fath- father," Luke whimpered softly.

"It's ok," Vader said as he rubbed Luke's back. "You tummy is just a little sick. Must not have liked something in the soup."

Luke's eyes were big and watery as he looked at his father. His body was trembling. His mouth trembled as if any moment he would start to cry.

"Come on," Vader said softly trying to get Luke to move.

But Luke only hunched over and vomited again. This time as he stood back, Padmé could see the stain of blood on his chin. Vader's took a sharp breath as he looked down at the vomit and then back at Luke. Vader's arms came up to grab his son, but Luke hunched over again and vomited. Then he vomited again.

Padmé stood up. She could see it. The bloody vomit staining the floor. Blood smeared on Luke's face.

"Luke!" Vader said in a pained voice. He grabbed Luke and pulled him up. He looked over at Padmé. His face full of fear and concern. "We've got to get him to the med bay!"

Vader started to head for the door. The door out of here. And everything slowed down. Everyone moved in slow motion.

What had she done?

It was the wrong bowl!

She had poured the indigestion medicine into Vader's bowl. He was the one who was supposed to get sick! Not Luke! She had accidentally switched the bowls! Her son! Her baby boy! What had she done? She looked at the bloody vomit. She looked at her scared little boy clinging to his father.

What had she done?

And what should she do now?

Though everything was still slowed down, Vader was approaching the door. This was the moment. The moment to leave. To escape. And Padmé didn't know what to do. She didn't know what to do! How could she leave now? It would mean leaving Luke behind. He was now Vader's distraction.

And if she left . . . Could she leave Luke? Choose him over his two sisters and herself? Her plan had always been to get all of them out, but this was the pivotal moment. Either she used her chance to escape or it most likely would never come again.

Vadre would find out. He was going to find out what she had done to Luke! She hadn't meant to! She didn't mean to poison her son! It had been for Vader! That was Vader's bowl! But even if she tried to explain it to Vader, he would never forgive her. What would he do?

Lock her up? Keep her away from children? Even the baby?

Why not? Why wouldn't he? After all she had done? All she was the cause of? Then what would happen to the children? She thought of the shadow children from her dreams. The ones with the glowing yellow eyes and the lightsabers.

"You forget your place, my wife. Your place is by my side. You belong to me. Everything you are belongs to me." Vader had once told her.

Everything belongs to me.

Everything belonged to him.

Padmé glanced down at the table. She recalled how this table once held a plate with a dismembered foot on it.

"Our bargain, dear wife, is that you are mine. You best remember the price if you are not, because I'll have it all. My empire. My wife. My children."

Was Luke the price she had to pay for freedom? Hadn't she already lost enough? All she truly had were her children, and now she was losing one of them. Or she could lose all of them. What price would Vader demand of her next?

There wasn't a good choice. Stay, face her mistake, take her punishment. She may lose her children. She may be locked away. Her children may be twisted towards the Dark Side. Turned into murderous Sith. But they would be together . . . Or she could leave . . . Leia and the baby would be safe. Padmé would be safe. But she would have to leave behind Luke and . . . Anakin . . .

What was Anakin going to think? He had given her the opportunity to be back on a ship so she could escape. What would he think now? That she had poisoned their son so she could escape?

Oh! How her heart hurt! It was painful. Cold. Squeezed. Crumbling apart while it was dragged into the deepest darkest void.

Vader was almost to the door. She didn't have time to debate this for long. She had to make a decision, and it had to be made now. She glanced from Vader to Luke to Leia. She looked down at her stomach. Then she looked at to the viewport.

She recalled Rion. How he had been sliced apart by Vader. How in turn Rion had tried to slice her apart. She recalled her old Rebel crew. How Vader had them killed in front of her. She recalled Naboo as it smoked from the cannons of the star destroyers. She recalled the nanny being choked by Leia using the Force.

Outside the viewport she could see the large battle station. The one with a laser said to destroy whole planets.

Was this the life she wanted? She wanted for Leia? For the baby?

No. It wasn't. It also wasn't the life she wanted for Luke either. But she had to pick. She had to pick right now. A better life for at least two of her children? Or a horrible life for three of them?

It was unfair. It was an unfair decision. Nothing was right about this. She was doomed either way.

Time seemed to be slowly moving back to normal speed. Vader approached the door. His hand pressed on the door release button. Padmé walked around the table and grabbed Leia's arm. She pulled the girl after Vader. Vader stepped into the small corridor. Padmé and Leia joined them in the hall.

The door behind them closed. Padmé looked at Luke. He was shivering and softly sobbing in his father's arms. Padmé walked up and placed her hand on his back. He jumped slightly from her touch. He looked over his shoulder at her.

"It's going to be ok," Padmé whispered. "Luke . . ." She paused as she watched the second door open. "Luke, I love you. Be strong. Always be strong."

Luke nodded. Padmé hand fell as Vader took large rushed steps out into the hallway. Padmé pulled Leia along after them. They walked down the hall and reached where two red royal guards stood watch.

"With me," Vader barked at them.

At once they fell into formation behind their Emperor, which put Padmé and Leia behind them. Padmé slowed her steps. She watched Vader, Luke, and the guards get further and further away from them. Soon they would approach the turbolift. Padmé stopped. Leia stopped as well. She looked up at her mother.

Padmé watched as Vader entered the turbolift. He never once looked back at her. His eyes were completely focused on Luke. On his son. The doors closed. Padmé and Leia were alone.

"Mother?" Leia asked in a soft voice.

Padmé looked down at Leia. Her daughter. She squeezed Leia's hand. She took a deep breath and walked forward. They stepped up to the lift. When the doors opened, it was thankfully empty. She keyed in the floor she had memorized from a few days earlier. It was a short ride. The doors opened and Padmé walked out.

There were stormtroopers and officers walking around in the hallway. Luckily not a lot, but Padmé, a very pregnant woman, and Leia, a young girl, got a lot of stares. But Padmé didn't stop. She didn't waver. No one stopped them, until they walked into the hangar. The deck officer at once was jogging over to them.

"Who-who are you?" he asked.

"Which shuttle is ready to go?"

"Excuse me, just who do you think-"

"This it the Emperor's private hangar is it not?" Padmé said drawing herself up to her full height. She put every ounce of her old politician voice in her. "There should be a shuttle kept ready at all times. Which one is it?"

"You can't just walk in here and use his majesty's shuttle!" the deck officer said. His face was red.

Padmé fished out the code cylinder she had stolen and kept safe. She passed it to the deck officer. He shouted over to a droid, who brought over a code scanner. As the officer looked at the results, his face paled. His eyes went wide.

"I uh . . . uh . . ." he stumbled. "You just can't use his majesty's codes without his clearance."

"This is a medical emergency," she snapped. "The Emperor is in the med bay. He cannot be disturbed right now, but you may try to com him."

The officer nodded and wandered off towards the engineering bay. Padmé eyed the hangar. It was filled with various fighters. No doubt all ones Vader used. But there were two shuttles. One of which sat without any fuel lines connected to it. That was the one ready to go. She walked over to it and paused next to the loading ramp.

There was a tightness in her throat. Her hands were starting to sweat. Was this going to work? What if Vader did respond to the com? The officer jogged over holding the code cylinder out. Padmé took it.

"I uh . . . the Emperor was in the med bay," he said. "He . . . uh . . ."

"Can not be disturbed," Padmé added.

"Yes."

"Then I will be taking my leave."

"But you cannot leave here without permission! You will have to wait."

"We don't have time to wait!" Padmé shouted. She turned and marched up the loading ramp pulling Leia along with her.

She could feel the officer's hesitation. Feel his inner debate. Padmé walked into the cockpit. She picked Leia up, put her in the copilot seat, and buckled her in. Padmé sat in the pilot's seat. It had been quite a while since she had flown, but she knew her way around ships. She may not be a pilot like Vader or . . . Anakin, but she did know how to fly. She started the warm up procedure.

No one came. The hangar through the viewport remained devoid of stormtroopers. She continued through the startup process. She closed the loading ramp. She glanced briefly at Leia, who sat quietly in her seat. Then Padmé took hold of the steering yolk. She eased the shuttle up and out of the hangar.

At once the com came on asking for her clearance. She inserted the code cylinder and transmitted the codes. She waited. Her shuttle slowly flew away from the star destroyer. TIE fighters zoomed around in the distance as they did their rounds. The other destroyers in Vader's fleet were nearby. Padmé eyed the second fleet that was protecting Vader's space station. If the code didn't work, there was no way she was getting out of here. She would have to surrender.

The com came back on. She had clearance to leave. She wondered if it was really clearance, or if no one wanted to bother and anger the Emperor. She adjusted her course, while she let the shuttle's computer calculate the jump. The computer beeped softly saying the vector and coordinates were set.

Padmé took a deep breath. She looked at Leia. Then she grabbed the hyperspace handle and pulled. The stars stretched as the shuttle jumped to hyperspace.

Chapter Text

Vader stood at the viewport. His hands were clasped behind his back. His eyes were closed. He was focusing on his breathing, an even in and out. He wasn't sure how long he had been standing there. His legs ached a bit. He opened his eyes and looked out at space through the cracked transparisteel. He finally felt calm. At least calmer than he had been.

He turned sharply on his heels. He faced the sitting room of his family's quarters. What was once his family's quarters. It was now destroyed. The furniture had all been blown into the walls. A few pieces had deep burn marks slashed through them. Large cracks dug through the floors, walls, ceilings, and even the viewport. Sparks sputtered out of the lights. There was a smell of ozone and burnt plastoid and wood.

Padmé had . . .

Padmé had . . .

She had . . . left . . .

She was gone.

Part of him wasn't surprised. He knew she wasn't happy. Not truly happy. Her smiles were always a bit fake. There was a lingering sadness in her eyes. He thought that eventually she would be happy once things settled down. Once she was able to accept her new life with him. With their family!

All she had to do was be with him and his children. Their life could have been perfect! The children would grow into powerful and respected Sith and leaders. The galaxy would bow at their feet. He would have given Padmé anything had she asked.

Except her freedom, a small voice whispered inside of him.

He scowled. Fresh cracks erupted from under his feet. Freedom? Was that what it was? Was that how she saw it? The life he was giving her was freedom. If only she had trusted him. He would have protected her and made sure everything was fine and perfect. She could have done anything. Did she want to take up politics again? He would give her the whole Senate!

She had given that up for what? A miserable horrible existence? She had nowhere to run to. The Rebels had betrayed her. Obi-Wan had betrayed her. His Empire was hunting her down. There was no one to take her in, except him of course.

He took a deep breath. He clenched his teeth and made his way out of the rooms. Next time he would prepare a better cage for her. Or perhaps a literal cage was where she needed to be. If she thought she was a prisoner before, what would she think if she lived inside a cell in one of his detention centers? Perhaps that would finally show her how kind he was. How wonderful the life he offered could be.

But first he had to find her. A cruel cold smile twisted upon his face. She was running against the clock this time. She was due to give birth in a matter of days. Ideally he did hope to find her before that. But she should be looking for a place to give birth. That did help Vader narrow down his search.

And if he couldn't have Padmé by his side . . . then at least he wanted his children. They were the true innocents in all of this. Being used as pawns by the Rebels and Padmé. His blood boiled as he thought about how she had used Luke. He never would have thought it possible of her. To poison her own child. Was she that desperate to leave him? He thought having the children here would have calmed her down, but again he was wrong.

Vader had made it to the med bay. Red royal guards stood outside Luke's private room. They didn't stop their emperor from entering. Another guard was stationed inside the room, but promptly left without having a word said. Vader and Luke were alone.

The boy looked so small in the medical bed. Vader walked to the edge of the bed and gently lowered himself to sit on the edge. He watched as Luke's chest rose and fell gently. Luckily there wasn't much instrumentation hooked up on him. Just an IV and a heart monitor. With his flesh hand, Vader gently stroked Luke's cheek with his knuckles. He did his best to avoid waking him.

Luke was recovering. The doctors had pumped the boy's stomach. Now they were just giving him fluids to keep him hydrated. Luckily, Luke had been out of it most of the time he had been in the med bay. Vader still hadn't told his son about his mother and sister, though Luke had asked for them. It had broken Vader's heart and only fueled his unending rage more.

He still didn't know what he was going to say to the boy when he woke up. Vader could only postpone the cruel truth for so long. What would Vader say? The truth? How much of the truth? Vader didn't want to lie. It would make hearing the truth later on sting much worse. Plus it would only give Luke false hope that his mother and sister would return any moment. Yes, the truth would be for the best. That didn't mean it was going to be easy. It was going to injure the child.

But wouldn't that be for the best? Wouldn't that give Luke pain and hate that would only make him stronger in the Dark Side? Isn't that what Vader wanted? Powerful Sith children?

But . . . at what cost? This . . . this isn't how he wanted it to happen. Yes, he did want his children strong in the Dark Side. But not like this. Not caused by their family. Their mother.

Vader sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He didn't know what to do. He only hoped Padmé was found soon. Perhaps he could avoid the worst pain.


Padmé tightly clutched Leia's hand as she pulled the girl through the spaceport. They had ditched the Imperial shuttle. It was too easily identifiable and trackable. She had taken what she could carry that would fetch a price. With what little money she had she got new clothes and a ticket on a transport.

Now she wasn't sure what to do. She knew she had to keep moving. It was how she had been able to always be ahead of Vader before, but this was not like last time. Last time she had allies. She had a ship. She had credits. Now she had nothing. She did debate about turning to a rebel cell. Turning to Obi-Wan. But how could she trust them? How could they trust her?

So for now she was alone. She had never felt so alone in her life before. There had always been someone. Sabe or Dorme. Anakin. The children. Bail. Obi-Wan. Rion. Her crew. Even recently there had been Vader. But now? Now there was just her. Her and Leia. And Leia was only a child who was depending on her mother.

She had been brave. She had only asked if they were getting medicine for Luke. Padmé hadn't answered. Her throat had become choked up. Instead she just hugged Leia tightly. Now the girl was quiet. She had barely said a word in hours.

Padmé was looking at various transports. She was deciding which one to hop on. Which destination and at the cheapest price would be best. She needed a place to stop. A place to hide. A place to be safe. Eventually she was going to go into labor. She needed to find somewhere to give birth. But where?

She pulled Leia along to the next loading dock to look at the next transport. As she stood amongst the crowd staring up at the terminal displays announcing destinations and prices, she heard a murmur through the crowd. At once the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Leia squeezed her hand tighter. As casually as she could, she looked over her shoulder.

Further down the crowd she could see the unmistakable white of stormtroopers. They were stopping people asking for identification. Padmé bit back a curse. She took a deep breath, and then slowly walked away. She kept glancing around her as if she was just perusing the markets and shops set up along the sides of the transports, but she was steadily moving away from the troopers.

However her breath caught in her throat as she saw troopers in the direction she was heading. This time she did curse, but kept it under her breath. Leia looked up at her.

"Mother," she said in a soft voice. "I want to go home."

What was home? The palace? The place where Leia had used the Force to kill her nanny? That was where she wanted to go back to?

Padmé gave her daughter a weak smile and pulled Leia on. She moved towards the ships. Perhaps she could go ahead and board one?

"Please can we go home," Leia said more urgently. "Can't we just go with father?"

Padmé froze. "Fa-father?" she asked.

"Yeah, he's here to take us home."

He's here to take us home.

He's  here .

How? How did he know? Padmé looked at her daughter. Her eyes were big and round. Her brows were furrowed. A small frown pulled on her lips. Leia who Vader said was already so strong in the Force. Had . . . Had Vader tracked them through Leia?

A sob bubbled out of Padmé. It was impossible wasn't it? Her children were never going to be free. Even she if she managed to get them away, their father would always be able to hunt them down. But why hadn't Vader found them before when they were both hidden away? Why had he gone through so much just to get Padmé to reveal their location? He clearly hadn't known. There had to be some trick to this.

But right now she couldn't worry about that. Right now . . . Right now she had to get away.

She pulled Leia along the long side of a transport ship. There had to be a service access or matientence door or something. She saw steps going down and took them. They took them down to a service level made of grated walkways that hung from the solid duracreet level above them. Pipes of fuel and supplies ran along the walkways to be pumped into ships.

Luckily it was also pretty deserted. She saw a few workers and droids in the distance, but none close to them. More importantly, she didn't see any white stormtroopers. She didn't know how long these walkways ran, but she would go as far as she could. Hopefully she could get around the troopers. But even if she did, would she be able to avoid Vader? She needed to get a ship. She needed to away from here and now.

So they walked along the walkways. They zigzagged around the bellies of large transport ships and avoided any other people. She spotted a hallway, and she made for it. They were almost to the hallway when suddenly the air grew colder. The hair on her arms stood on end. Leia suddenly stopped and looked behind her. Padmé slowly did the same.

Behind them further down the walkway was Darth Vader. He was dressed as he always was in all black in a long cape that fluttered softly. Even from this distance, Padmé could tell his eyes were a burning gold. His face pulled down in a frown.

"Padmé," he said. He hadn't shouted, but yet she heard him clearly. "Stop. It's over. You're coming with me. Now."

Leia looked up at Padmé and back at her father. Padmé only tightened her hold on her daughter's hand. Her other hand felt for the small blaster she had bought and tucked away. Vader started to slowly walk towards them. Padmé started to step away from him. Leia was reluctant to go.

"Don't cause a scene," Vader growled. "You have nowhere to go. Just come with me. Please, Padmé."

She gripped the handle of the blaster.

"I can't," she said. "I can't go back there. I can't live that life!"

He kept walking closer. "What life? A life where you were safe? A life with your children? Your husband?" There was an unsaid 'with me' hanging in the air. "And what is this grand life your running away to? How is that any better?"

"My children won't be raised as murderers," Padmé said.

Vader paused. Then his face darkened. His golden eyes seemed to glow.

"I think it's time you rethink your actions and how they are 'what's best for your children'," Vader hissed. "After what you did to your own child."

Padmé took in a sharp gasp.

"You will not take my children away," Vader hissed.

His eyes flashed to Leia and then Padmé's stomach. Her arm twitched. She wanted to put a protective arm around her stomach, but her hand was gripped around the blaster. He continued to walk forward and Padmé stepped back. Leia whimpered as she was pulled back her mother.

"Leia come here," Vader said as he paused and held out his hand.

Leia looked from Padmé to Vader and back to Padmé clearly unsure of what to do.

"Leia," Vader said again strained. "Your mother is running away. She is taking you from your home. From your family." Again there was an unsaid 'from me' in his words.

Leia looked up at her mother. Her eyes were big and round. The question on her face was so easily read.

"Leia, you've already lost one home," Vader said.

"Because of you!" Padmé snapped back.

"Because of you!" Vader shouted. He raised a hand and pointed a finger at her.

Padmé pulled out her blaster and pointed it at Vader. He gripped his lightsaber and pulled it free from his belt.

"Put that away," Vader said in a low voice. "Put that away and come home."

She couldn't do that. She couldn't go back. Not now. By now she had backed into the hallway while Vader still stood on the grated walkway. Shooting directly at him would do no good. He would deflect it with his lightsaber. Was there a blast door to the hallway? She glanced wildly at the wall. None. There had to be something!

That was when she noticed a pipe running above the walkway. She didn't know what it was for, but she wasted no time in raising her blaster and pulling the trigger. Her aim was true. The bolt hit and at once steam poured out. Vader let out a pained shout as the steam covered him. It caused Padmé's heart to squeeze, but she at once turned and ran.

It hurt. Everything hurt. Her body shouldn't be running like this. Not with the baby. But she had to keep going. Tears started to cloud her eyes. She really didn't know where she was going, but she pulled Leia along.

"Mother!" the girl cried. "Please stop! I can't run anymore!"

But Padmé didn't stop. Despite her daughter's pleas. Despite the throbbing pain in her body and the piercing pain in her heart. She kept going. She vaguely remembered going through different hallways and up a few flights of stairs. She remembered slamming a few door panel buttons.

But finally she stopped. She stood amongst some cargo ships. She spotted large metal crates being loaded onto a ship. She pulled Leia along and the two slipped into the cargo hold. Padmé opened one of the large crates and it was full of plain white fabric. She lifted Leia into the large crate. It took Pamde a lot longer to crawl in, but finally she did. Her body ached and burned, and worst of all were the regular waves of contractions hitting her.

"Mother?" Leia asked. "Is it true? Are you running away?"

"Yes-yes," Padmé said through pained gasps.

"Are you ok?"

"No," Padmé said biting back tears.

Leia scooted closer and wrapped an arm around her mother. Padmé hugged her daughter. The cargo hold door was closed, and the engines of the ship started up. For the first time in a long time, Padmé prayed to her Nubian gods.

She prayed that this ship was able to leave safely, and that wherever it was going was someplace safe. She prayed the baby would stay in long enough for Padmé to get someplace safe once the ship landed. She prayed for the health of her baby. She prayed for Leia and Luke. She also prayed for Anakin.

Please, she prayed. Please keep let them be safe. Let my children be safe. Guide us. Protect us.

Despite Leia curled up beside her and the heavy weight of the baby, Padmé felt so alone. Tears silently fell from her eyes.

And please, she added to her prayer, let us be together again. As a family. A true family.

Chapter Text

Chapter 38: The Baby

Leia sat on the edge of the bed. She looked at the small baby wrapped in a grey blanket in her mother's arms. It was . . . pink . . . and small . . . and weird looking. It did not look like how she thought a baby would look like. Mother looked down at the baby with a big smile. Her face was all red and sweaty. Leia hadn't been in the room when Mother had given birth, but she was right outside. She had heard Mother screaming. Had felt Mother's pain. She was relieved to see Mother and little Parvané were both fine.

When they had gotten to this planet, Mother explained they had to get off the ship and find a doctor at once. It was a normal looking planet. Green grass and trees. It made Leia think of her old home. Of Alderaan. Of her mama and papa. But that brought up bad thoughts. Bad memories. So Leia buried them deep away again and focused on Mother and her new baby sister.

Varné was asleep. One hand curled around the top of the blanket she was wrapped in. The hand and fingers were so tiny. Leia leaned over very carefully and gently touched the hand. The baby didn't flinch or wake up. Mother smiled at Leia.

"Tiny," Leia whispered.

"Yes," Mother whispered back, "they are."

Mother leaned over and gently kissed the baby on the forehead. She looked tired, and despite the smile on her face, there was a sadness in her eyes.

"Can I hold her?" Leia asked.

"When she wakes up," Mother replied.

Leia snuggled against her mother. The three of them laid in the medical bed. Leia dozed off. She was awoken by the whimpering of the baby. Mother was gently rocking Varné, but soon the baby was crying. Mother pulled down her medical robe and brought the baby up to her breast. Varné would start sucking, but soon would stop and start crying.

A nurse came in to check on them. Everyone who worked in the med center was a lady. They all wore grey dresses with grey sashes on their heads that hid their hair. Those who were nurses wore white aprons.

"She's not latching on," Mother said softly.

"We'll have to make an appointment in the morning," the nurse said softly as she brought over a bottle filled with white liquid.

Mother gave the baby the bottle, who greedily drank it.

"Come now," the nurse said to Leia. "Let's go back to your room to rest for the night."

Leia had been given a room next door to sleep in. She frowned as she looked at her mother. She didn't want to leave.

"It's ok, Leia," Mother said. "The baby doesn't sleep for long. She'll wake up constantly throughout the night to be fed or changed. You'll sleep better next door."

"Ok . . ." Leia said as she hugged Mother tightly. She leaned over and gave her sister a kiss on the forehead. Mother leaned over and kissed Leia on the head.

"Good night," Mother said.

"Good night," Leia said as she slipped off the bed.

"Leia," Mother said. Her tone light and warm. Leia paused. "I love you."

"I know," Leia said with a smile. She could tell Mother wasn't lying.

"Even if you know," Mother said, "it's always good to hear it."

Leia paused. "Then I love you too," she added. Mother smiled and nodded.

Leia followed the nurse to the room next door. It was identical to Mother's room, except none of the machines were on. It didn't smell like baby. It was quiet and a bit lonely. She missed Luke. She couldn't wait to see his face when he saw the baby. She crawled into the bed, closed her eyes, and thought of her brother. He had been very excited to be a big brother. He always said the best thing about leaving his old home was finding out he had a sister.

She thought of his smile and his blue eyes. The best thing about this new life was her brother, she agreed. She hoped her new sister would grow up to be a good sister. Leia couldn't wait until the baby was old enough to play with. Mother said it would be a while until the baby could actually do anything. It wouldn't even be able to sit up for a long time. Babies were so weird.

She felt something cool slide against her mind. She quieted her thoughts and stilled her body.

Father? she called out into her mind.

Leia, came Father's reply.

Father! Leia cried out. The baby is here!

Leia could sense her father's surprise. The baby was born? he asked.

Yes. And it's so tiny! And small! And kind of yucky and smelly.

There was a gentle laugh from Father. Is your mother and the baby . . . Are they ok? Are they fine? Is anything wrong?

No, except the baby won't suck milk out of Mother's boobie, Leia said. So they have to give her a bottle.

Relief. Father was relieved.

Father, she asked, are you going to come again? Are we going to go home now?

Yes, Leia, Father replied. I am on my way as we speak.

Good. When will you get here? I can't wait for Luke to see the baby!

It will be a few more hours. Is it day or night there?

Night. I'm supposed to be sleeping.

Another soft chuckle from Father. Then I will be there in the morning.

And we can all go home?

Yes, you can all go home. But Leia, Father added.

Yes?

Make sure you don't tell your mother I'm coming.

I won't. I didn't tell her last time either!

I know.

But why? Why did Mother run away?

She has a rather silly idea in her head that bad things are going to happen.

Like . . . with the bomb? Leia asked.

Yes. She's worried about the baby. She's worried about you and Luke too.

It would be better if we were with you, she said.

Yes, it would be better. Now go to sleep. I'll see you when you wake up.

She felt her father slip away. The cold went with him. And Leia was all alone. She knew her mother and the baby were just next door. Just on the other side of the wall, but still she felt alone. She wished Luke was here. She could crawl into his bed and they could sleep together. Then she wouldn't feel so empty or cold or alone.

Tears stung her eyes. A few escaped and rolled down her cheek. She pulled her covers up over her head and curled tightly into a ball. This should all be over tomorrow. Father would be here and they could all go home. They would all be together again.

X-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-xxxxx-x-x-x-x-

Leia woke up with one of the nurses shaking her. Leia grumbled and pulled her blankets tighter. But the nurse pulled the blankets away. Leia moaned.

"Up now, little one," the nurse said.

"I'm not little," Leia mumbled as she rolled out of bed.

The nurse said nothing as she handed Leia some fresh clothes. They were gray like what the nurses wore, and it was itchy and coarse. Leia didn't like it. But once dressed, she bounced out into the hallway.

"Wait," the nurse called out. Leia paused and looked back. "Your mother and the baby just fell asleep. Let them rest a bit."

Leia frowned.

"Come now, we can go eat breakfast," the nurse said as she turned to go in the opposite direction of Mother's room. Leia looked at the closed door and turned to follow the nurse.

Breakfast wasn't that great, but Leia was hungry. She quickly ate her creamy oatmeal. It would taste better with honey or sugar or fresh fruit. Once done, Leia quickly ran away. The nurses called after her to clean up, but she ignored them. She rushed through the halls back to her mother's room. This time there was no nurse to stop her, but she opened the door slowly and as quietly as she could.

She peered around the door, but found the room empty. There was no Mother nor baby. Leia walked in and looked around. Then she checked the refresher. Still no Mother. She stopped a nurse walking by.

"Excuse me," Leia said. "I'm looking for my mother. Have you seen her?"

"Is she the one in that room?" the nurse asked. Leia nodded. "She went to see the doctor with the baby."

Leia sighed. That was right. Mother was going to see the doctor about the baby not drinking milk from Mother's boobie. That was such an odd thing to think about. Mother had laughed and said Leia and Luke had done the same thing when they were babies. Leia's face scrunched up. She couldn't imagine ever doing something like that.

Since she didn't know where the doctor was, she decided to go outside. It was nice to be out in the grass and trees again. She loved being outdoors. Father had said there was no grass in the place he was taking them. Mushtafall? She couldn't remember exactly. But Father also said it wouldn't be forever. Only while he found out who bombed their home and a new home was built. Then they could go back.

Leia kicked her shoes off and wiggled her toes in the grass. She sighed. It was such a nice feeling. But suddenly she remembered doing this same thing in another place a long time ago. Back on Alderaan. Back in her old home. With Papa and . . . and Mama . . .

Tears stung her eyes. She wiped them away with her arm. She was a big girl now. She was a big sister. She didn't cry over such stupid baby things. But the tears still pooled in her eyes. This time she didn't touch them. They rolled down her cheeks. She hunched over and curled into a ball. She stared intently at the green grass. She watched as her tears fall off her face and into the grass.

When was the last time she had cried about Mama? It had been a long time ago. She sniffled as her nose became runny. What would Mama think of the new baby? Leia could see her smiling and cradling the baby just like Mother did. Mama was a good mom. Even if she didn't give birth to Leia.

Leia?

She blinked.

Luke? she asked into the Force.

Leia! came her brother's voice. Leia! Why . . . why are you sad?

I was just thinking of my mama.

Ah, Luke said softly. He understood. No other words were needed. Sorry I'm not there.

Me too. She wished he was there. He would hug her and tell it was alright. He missed his aunt and uncle. He understood.

But we'll be together soon, Luke added quickly.

Leia wiped her face with his arm. He was right. She could feel him. She could feel Father. They were close. She looked up at the blue sky. She could see a large triangular ship coming closer. Leia jumped up. That was right! Father said he would be here in the morning!

"Luke!" she shouted in the Force and out loud. Luke laughed. I can't wait for you to meet the baby! She's so tiny and little and pink and red and smells funny!

I can't either, he replied.

Leia pulled her shoes on. She wanted to go run inside and find Mother and the baby. She wanted to be ready for when Father arrived, but then she stopped. No. No, she should wait here. Wait here for Father. They could go to Mother together. That would be for the best. Wouldn't it?

It took longer than Leia would have liked for the large ship to come down low. Fast little zippy fighter ships buzzed around. They made a horrible screeching noise. She was sure Luke would know the name of them. Then she watched as a different type of ship approached. She recognized it as the type of ship Father used. It landed in the yard not far from where Leia waited.

She watched the ramp lower. At first it was a bunch of stupid white troopers. Then the red guard came out wearing their bright red helmets and capes. And then there was Father. He stood out amongst the others wearing all black with a long cape that fluttered in the wind. The moment he stepped on to the ramp, his head turned towards Leia.

Leia smiled and jumped up and down. Father quickly made his way over to her. He had pushed past his guards and troops. He ran to her. The moment he was close, she ran the rest of the way. He knelt down and opened his arms. She jumped into them. He grabbed her tightly and she wrapped her arms around his neck. He kissed her face and head over and over again, making her laugh.

"Stop," she giggled as she pushed on him.

"I can't," he whispered into her hair. "I missed you so much. I'm so glad you're safe."

Finally he pulled away. His eyes were blue. She liked Father best when his eyes were blue. She leaned into him and hugged him.

"Where's Luke?" she asked.

"On the ship," he said.

"Can we go there now?"

"First let's get your mother," he said.

Leia smiled. "Ok!" She slipped out of his hold and grabbed his hand, his flesh hand, and pulled. "This way!" she shouted. She pulled him into the med center. She brought him to Mother's room. "In here!" she said.

But she stopped as soon as they entered. The room was still empty. Leia frowned. Father placed a hand on her shoulder. His lips were pulled downward. His eyes were yellow.

"She must still be with the doctor," Leia said in a soft voice. "She was there earlier."

Father looked down and smiled, but it wasn't reassuring. He bent over and picked her up. He placed her on the bed.

"Don't worry," he said. "I'll go find her. You wait here with the guards."

Then he was gone. Two red guards stepped into the room. They took position on either side of the door. They said nothing, as usual. Just stood there with their stupid spears. Leia plopped over on the bed. She buried her head into the pillow. It smelled like Mother and of Varné.

She dozed off. She woke up when her father gently pulled her into his arms. She rested her head against his shoulder. She felt a soft kiss against her forehead. She closed her eyes and drifted to sleep to the steady rhythm of his footsteps.

Images danced around in her head of Mother and Father and of Luke and Varné. Mama was there too smiling and laughing. All the people Leia loved. All together. All happy.

"Leia."

The dream faded away. She was sad to see it go.

"Leia, wake up."

She recognized that voice. It was her father.

"Leia?"

Her eyes snapped open at once hearing Luke's voice. The first thing she saw was the dull gray ceiling, but soon Luke's face filled up her vision.

"Luke!" she shouted as she wrapped her arms around his neck. She pulled him down. He laughed as he hugged her back. "I missed you!" she said.

Luke leaned back. "I missed you too," he said.

"How are you feeling?" she asked as she sat up.

She had been lying down on a couch in a sitting room. Father stood beside Luke. A small smile on his lips, but it didn't reach his blue eyes.

"I'm feeling good," Luke said.

Leia noticed he looked paler and thinner than he had been.

"Still have to eat boring food though," he said as he looked over at his father.

Father put a hand on Luke's head and ruffled his hair. "Doctor's order," Father said.

Leia looked around. The sitting room was empty. It looked similar to the one in the rooms they stayed at while on Father's ship. It had the feel and smell of the ship, but it was different furniture.

"Where are we?" she asked.

"This is the new rooms you'll be staying in," Father explained. "That door leads to your old room. My office is right on the other side."

Leia understood. The hallway from the old sitting room led to Luke and Leia's room and then to father's office. Beyond that had always been a closed door. This was the room behind that door. It was odd there was a whole other sitting room.

"Where's Mother?" Leia asked. "Where will she and the baby stay?"

At once the air changed. It cooled and sizzled. Leia felt her hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Father's eyes changed from blue to yellow. Luke frowned as he looked at his father.

"Father?" Leia asked. Her voice wasn't strong and brave. It was uncertain and a bit afraid.

"Luke, have a seat next to your sister," Father said.

Luke climbed onto the couch and sat next to Leia. The two sat side by side with their knees touching. Luke grabbed her hand. She squeezed his hand back. Father knelt to his knees in front of them. His yellow eyes looked at Leia then Luke then back to Leia.

"Your mother," he started to say but then paused. He took a breath. "Your mother has run away. With the baby."

Luke let out a small gasp, but Leia was frozen. She didn't even breath. Mother had run away? Again? With the baby? But what if she got hurt? Or the baby did? Why? They were all going to be together! With Father and Luke!

Father frowned. "I know," he said softly.

"Where did she go?" Leia demanded at once. "We have to go find her!"

Father looked horrible. His face was all wrinkled up wrong. He looked so sad. So hurt. Like he was about to cry though his eyes were dry.

"I am having everyone look for her," Father said softly. "Hopefully we'll find her and the baby soon."

Luke squeezed Leia's hand again.

Chapter Text

Chapter 39: The Prince

Luke pulled on the high stiff collar of his jacket. It was itchy and bothering him, but this was the type of clothing he wore whenever he went out in public with Father. When he was called Prince Luke and people bowed at him. He still wasn't used to it though it had been three years now since Emperor Vader announced his children to the galaxy.

It had now been five years since Luke had left Tatooine. He was now ten years old, so was his twin sister Leia. She was a bit taller than him now. Father said girls got their growth spurts before boys did. Leia looked more like a boy than a girl. She kept her hair short. She often wore boys clothes. Father had tried to talk her into wearing dresses, but she said she liked the clothes Luke wore better.

Even now she was dressed similar to Luke. Like him, she wore a long black jacket with a high stiff collar. The jacket had silver and red detailing with a white Imperial crest on the left arm. She wore long pants with black shiny boots. She stood attentively next to their father, who was talking with a group of older boring white human men except for Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Leia liked being involved with Father's work. She liked listening in on his meetings. Somehow she understood everything that was being said. She always asked Father a million questions about his day and his projects. Luke was not that interested in the going-on's of the Empire. He liked ships and flying. Father had finally let him fly his own small ship now.

He also liked learning about the Force. He enjoyed practicing lightsaber techniques and battling against Leia. But if he was honest with himself, he wasn't that comfortable with using hate and anger to power himself. His father tried. He had told him it was his mother who had poisoned him so she could run away. Run away from him. From their family. She was being selfish.

Yet no matter what, Luke just couldn't muster those dark feelings for his mother. He always felt sad when he thought of her. She might have been acting a bit selfish, but he felt like she was scared. Scared of Father. Scared for the new baby. The baby sister Luke had never met. She would now be four years old.

Leia on the other hand held a lot of hatred for their mother. She hadn't gotten over the so-called betrayal. Luke knew that was why she kept her hair short now. She didn't want long hair like their mother. She didn't want to look like their mother. She didn't want to remember the happier memories where Mother would brush and braid her hair. Because that was too painful.

Luke had walked away from the group. His red guards followed him, but they didn't linger too close giving him some space. He was currently in a huge atrium of a large government building. It extended over forty stories. In the center of the atrium was one large tree known as the Mother Tree. It was rather odd. It had a thin trunk and thin branches that twisted out. The bark was white with specks of silver throughout. The leaves were in various colors. Towards the bottom they were a dull gray, but the closer they got to the sky they changed from blue to purple to finally red.

Small silver lanterns hung off the branches. Each one holding a small warm light. The tree twinkled softly. It was a beautiful sight. Each floor of the building circled around the tree. Luke walked to the railing. He could see the towering tree as well as the various levels of the building. The level he was on had been cleared for the Emperor's visit as well as the two floors above and below them. There were lots of stormtroopers. Lots of security.

Luke sighed as he placed his hands on the railing. He could hear the soft murmur of the people in the atrium. He knew quite a few had spotted him. He could see the distant flashes of holocams as they tried to get a shot of him. That was fine. He didn't care. If his father didn't want press, they would have shut down the whole building to the public.

He looked at the tree. He stared at the leaves. His eyes traveled to the balconies on the other side of the tree. He saw the people looking and pointing at him. He should go back over to his father and sister. He was about to. Had even placed his right foot back, but then he stopped. A little girl had caught his eye. She was small and young. He could only see her through the railing of the balcony.

But even with the railing and the distance, he could see her eyes. They were a startling blue. Blue like the sky. Blue . . . blue like his. Like Father's eyes when he was in a good mood. When he was happy. Which happened so rarely now. Like when Luke and Leia got his father to laugh, truly and genuinely laugh.

The girl was watching him as he was watching her. Her hand was clasping tightly to the skirt of a woman standing next to her. Most likely her mother. She had long curly brown hair which was loose. Luke titled his head to the right. She mirrored the movement. He titled his head to the left. She mirrored it again. He smiled. She smiled.

She was a very cute little girl. It made him wonder about his own little sister. The sister he had never met. She might look just like this little girl. Blue eyes like his father. Brown curly hair like his mother. He followed the girl's hand to the skirt and the skirt up to the woman . . .Whose large brown eyes were staring at Luke. Eyes he knew. He gasped softly.

It was his mother.

She looked just like he saw her in his memories and dreams. Round face and large brown eyes and long curly brown hair. For a moment he wondered if he was seeing things. His mind was playing tricks, but no. He knew. He knew this washis mother. This was her. After four years, this was her.

He looked back down at the little girl. She had to be . . . she had to be his sister. The sister he had never met. No wonder her blue eyes drew him in and made him think of his father. Of course they did. They were his father's eyes.

What were they doing here? And now?

He looked back at her mother. It was clear she knew he had spotted her. Her face crinkled in such heartbreaking sorrow. He was sure he saw her eyes glisten.

Luke, Leia called in the Force. It's time to go.

He ignored her. He didn't want to look away. He wanted to say something. But how could he? Could he signal to her with his hands? What would he signal? Would he be able to properly communicate his thoughts? But his thoughts were a mess. He had so much to say to her.

He was sorry. He missed her. It was ok. He loved her. He didn't hate her. He wanted her to come home.

How could he say that in a hand movement?

Luke, came Father's stern voice in the Force. Come. We are leaving.

Reluctantly and slowly he turned his head away from his mother and sister to look over at his father and Leia. Their group was starting to walk away, though Leia still lingered behind waiting for him. Should he say something to them? Tell them mother was here? He looked back across the atrium. Mother was gone. His heart sank.

Luke? Leia called. What's wrong?

No doubt she had picked up on his emotions. How would she react if he told her? Would she be angry? He didn't know. Father and Leia had a lot of anger in them towards Mother for leaving them. He knew deep down they just really missed her and wanted her to come back and be with them. There were moments when they were both sad about it. But those moments were fleeting and often very private.

He saw movement a floor down from where he had seen his mother. It was her! She was walking briskly and gripping the little girl's hand. She kept glancing over her shoulder. Luke looked through the crowd behind her. There was a figure dressed in black with a hood drawn up following behind them. Was his mother in trouble?

His mother paused and spotted the man. Her face paled. She picked up the girl into her arms and started to move faster through the crowd. She was in trouble!

Luke? Leia asked again. She was walking over. What are you looking at? It's time to go.

He had to help his mother. He started to walk along the railing following her with his eyes. How could he help her? No way would Father allow it. His guards wouldn't let him go anywhere near the public. He looked down at the floor below his and the way the atrium curved. He could jump. He would be able to make it to the floor below. He had made such jumps hundreds of times when he practiced using the Force. Though never was he thirty stories in the air. But he knew he could make it.

The guards were getting restless. The Emperor was getting further away. It was time to go. Soon they would approach Luke. Plus Leia was walking over. She was almost there. If Luke was going to do something, he had to do it now. He wouldn't be able to hesitate as that would allow the guards to grab him. He would have to be fast.

He took a deep breath. He felt Leia's questioning probe in the Force as she sensed his change in mood. He placed his hands on the railing, shifted his feet slight, took another deep breath, and jumped. In one fluid moment his feet landed on the bar of the railing and without a pause he leapt from the railing down to the floor below.

He heard the gasps and shouts. He heard the guards shouting after him. He heard Leia screaming his name. He felt his father's alarm in the Force. But he ignored it all. He landed on the floor below and rolled. The floor was empty as it had been cleared for security purposes. He wasted no time. He bounced over to the railing and launched himself down another level. Then another.

"Luke!" Leia cried after him.

He was vaguely aware she was following him. She had jumped after him. He could sense the panic of the royal guards. He could feel his father approaching.

Luke! Father shouted in the Force. Luke! What are you doing? Stop!

But Luke was now three levels down and amongst the public. They all had jumped away from where he had landed. They all looked at him with big round eyes and open mouths. There were whispers of the word "prince" humming about. He dashed forward. He pushed his way past the people. He had lost sight of his mother, but he had a good idea of where she was going. So he ran. He ran through the throngs of people with Leia chasing behind him and Father behind her.

LUKE! Father shouted. His voice angry and frantic. The cold darkness of his Father's Force presence snapped at his heels. The moment he stopped, he knew the Force would wrap around him and pin him in place.

But then he saw his mother. Moving through the crowd. Moving down a staircase towards a skybridge. He ran after her onto the bridge. He watched as she boarded a turbolift in the next building. He caught one too. The Force told him to get off at the street level. He rushed out of the building. He just caught sight of his mother's hair disappearing around a corner. He ran after her.

He ran down an alley, across a busy street, down two more side streets, through a small marketplace, and down another alley. He stopped at the back of a townhouse. It looked rundown. A few of the windows were shattered. The door wasn't even locked as it slid open rather noisily. Luke cautiously walked in, but he sensed no danger. But he did sense someone in the floor above.

The house was falling apart. Wallpaper was peeling off the walls. There was broken furniture everywhere. It smelled musty and damp. Luke made his way up some unstable stairs to the second floor. He walked down the hallway and turned into a room.

"Mother," he whispered.

She was there. Just as he had seen her at the atrium. She was dressed in a simple purple top and brown dress. The little girl stood beside her. Her large blue eyes on Luke. Mother had taken in a sharp breath and held it when Luke said her name. The two didn't move. Each one not even wanting to take their eyes off the other.

Then finally Mother released her breath. A sad smile grew on her lips, which parted and whispered, "Luke." There was so much mixed into that one word. Longing. Sorrow. Happiness. It was all Luke needed. He rushed forward. His mother opened her arms up, and they hugged.

He squeezed her tightly. He buried his head into her shoulder. He took deep breaths of her smell. The same smell he had always remembered. The smell that had long since faded away years ago with the new palace and even a new ship. The places mother had once been had been replaced. Her clothing was placed in storage and locked away. There was very little of her remaining in Luke's life except his memories and his father's demands to be angry at her to power his connection to the Dark Side.

But feeling her warmth, smelling her smell, hearing her breath, it all came rushing back to Luke. He remembered so vidily all the times he had spent with his mother. He remembered the first few weeks staying on Father's ship as he got to know his new family. He remembered the crystal moon. He remembered being taken away by that man and Leia's papa. He remembered going to the palace. That had been a happy time. Mother had been preparing the nursery for the new baby. Then the bomb. The ship. The poison. And mother ran away.

But she was here. She was here right now! And Luke couldn't help but cry. Hot tears fell down his cheeks soaking his mother's shirt. He could feel his mother's tears on his hair. Feel her body tremble in sobs.

"Oh Luke," she whispered into his hair. "Oh my little Luke."

"Moth- mother," he whispered back.

He wanted this moment to keep going. He wanted to talk to her. Truly talk to her. He was now older. He understood so much more. He wanted to know why she had done what she had done. But of course the Force didn't allow for such things as steps were heard rushing up the rickety stairs and down the hall. Leia burst into the room.

"Luke!" she shouted out of breath.

She stood there panting for a moment. Her eyes taking in the others in the room. They grew wide in shock. She took a small step back.

"Mother?" Leia asked. Her voice unsteady.

Mother stepped away from Luke. She wiped her tears with her hands.

"Leia," Mother said with a small smile.

Leia's eyes darted from Luke to Mother to the small girl, back to Mother then to Luke.

"What . . . how . . . why . . . Luke?" Leia said as she tried to comprehend everything. She looked back at mother. She straightened up. Her hands tightened into fists. "What are you doing here?" Leia snapped.

"Leia . . . I . . ." Mother said softly.

"Mommy?" the little girl asked as she leaned against Mother's leg.

Mother put a hand on the girl's head and smiled at her. "It's ok, Varné," she said in a soft voice. "This is your big sister and brother. Luke and Leia."

The little girl looked at Luke and Leia. She hugged her mother tighter. Luke smiled at her, but knew his face was red and puffy and stained with tears.

A large bang was heard. All four of them jumped.

"Luke!" roared Father's voice downstairs. "Leia!"

They all froze as the heavy steps pounded up the stairs and down the hall. Emperor Vader ran into the room and came to a sudden halt. His eyes had barely touched Luke. Instead Father was looking directly at Mother. His voice caught in his throat as he stared for a long silent moment. Then finally he broke the silence.

"Pad- Padmé?" he asked.

Chapter Text

Chapter 40: The Dealbreaker

Vader stood there. Frozen. Unmoving. It was her. Padmé. She was . . . She was here. He hadn't seen her since the spaceport four years ago. She was thin. There was something haggard about her. Shadows under her eyes. Her hair not as meticulously cared for.

But even then she was still beautiful. She was still an angel, his angel. There was a flood of emotion pouring out of his heart. A longing and yearning he thought he had buried years ago, but it was still there. Still strong. He missed her. He wanted her in his arms. He wanted to feel her silky hair. Taste her skin on his lips. Fall asleep to the sound of her breathing while she laid next to him.

But then the anger came surging forth as he recalled what had happened. How she had poisoned his son. How she had used the opportunity to not only abandon Luke but him as well. She stole not only Leia but the baby as well. Then she decided to abandon Leia. He grit his teeth, and his hands twisted into fists.

There was a small whine as fear tainted the Force. Vader followed the noise down to the small girl clinging to Padmé's skirt. He knew who she was immediately. She was his daughter. The baby. And she was a beautiful little girl. A perfect mix of him and Padmé with long curly brown hair and big blue eyes.

"Vader," Padmé said. Her voice unwavering, though he could sense the fear and unease behind it.

He stood there another moment, looking at the little girl, who had buried her face into her mother's skirts due to Vader's attention. Then he slowly brought his eyes back up to Padmé's.

"What are you doing here?" he hissed with no yearning to be found in his words.

She held her chin up higher and glared at him.

"I'm here to see my children," she said. Her eyes darted briefly to Luke and Leia.

Vader looked over his shoulder at them. They stood side by side. Leia was tightly gripping Luke's arm. Luke's face was red and stained with tears, and both of them were wide-eyed as they looked at their father. He looked back over at Padmé.

"You threw away the right to call them your children four years ago," he growled.

She stiffened at the insult, but otherwise was unmoved.

"You've seen them," he said. "Though I am not sure why you had to go through such theatritics. You could have saved yourself the trouble and just watched the holonet."

"I wanted to speak with them," she said. Her voice wasn't her normal voice. It was her Amidala voice. Her politician voice. Not her loving mother voice. "I want to give them a choice."

Cold spiked through his heart. "A choice?" he snarled.

"They're old enough to make their own choices," she said. "Whether they want to live with you or me."

No!

It was the first thought that raced through his mind. He wouldn't allow it! He could not have Luke and Leia taken from him!

"No," he said.

"I want to hear that from them," she said.

"No," he growled in a low voice. His Emperor voice. "You have already proven yourself as a poor mother. What life will you provide for them? You look starved and like you haven't slept in weeks. No, my children will not go with youNone of them will."

He looked down at the little girl still hiding in her mother's skirts. Padmé sucked in a sharp breath as she placed her hand on the little girl's head. Her eyes narrowed as she glared at him. The message was clear. She was not letting the little girl go without a fight.

He let out a short cruel laugh. "You think you have a choice in this?" he asked. "A flick of a button will bring down not only the Royal Guard but also a whole legion of stormtroopers. You are not walking out of here unless I allow you to."

There was a slight twitch of one of her eyebrows. A flinch in the corner of her lips. She wanted to argue, but held her tongue.

"Our bargain is over," he said. "I wanted a willing and loving wife. I see now I will never have that. It's something you gave up and no longer want to be. You're not here to come back to me. You're here to steal my children. It won't happen! But I am merciful, Padmé. You did keep up your part of the deal . . . for a brief while. As such I'll let you leave."

She didn't react. She was still as she listened to his words.

"But you leave alone," he hissed. He pointed at the girl. "She stays with me. They all stay with me."

"So our bargain is over?" she said in a smooth voice. "I would hope so. Not like you have anything else to use as collateral."

He couldn't help but laugh. "I assure you I have plenty, and you know it."

Her face darkened. She did know it. Not doubt she remembered the bombing of Naboo. He only destroyed a small portion of it, but he could destroy the rest of the planet if he wished. Her family along with it. But he left the threat unsaid and hanging in the air.

He flicked his left hand. There was a loud short shriek from the girl as the Force wrapped around her. He flicked his hand again, and the Force dragged the girl across the floor. Vader gripped her arm and pulled her to him. She let out a small sob.

"Mommy!" she cried. Her free arm raising out to her mother.

"Varné!" Padmé said taking a step forward.

"No," he growled. He tightened the Force around the little girl. She let out another sob.

Padmé glared at him. Oh, she was angry. Good.

"You have a choice to make, my wife," he spat the last words. "You can leave. You won't be followed. I won't even bother to track you back to whatever miserable hole you've dug for yourself. But you do so alone. Or you can stay with your family."

With me, he left unsaid. She could come back to him. They could be together again. All of them could be together. They could be a family. Though he already knew it would never be a true family. Not like the one he desperately and truly wished for. There was a bleeding wound between him and Padmé. Between Padmé and the children, which he doubted would ever heal. It would forever be in the way of them truly uniting.

And he could live with that wound. He had for four years now, but he had the children to help ease the pain. He loved them, and they loved him. The little girl sobbing at his side would come to love him too. And they would be happy. They would be their own family. With or without Padmé. But it would be with him.

He couldn't . . . he couldn't lose the children . . . He already lost her . . . His angel. The children were all he had and he loved them so much. He had been in physical pain when he realized they had both jumped from the balcony back at the government building. He had panicked as he had jumped and raced after them. He could think of nothing else, but getting to them and making sure they were safe and returning them to his side.

"I'm sorry," she said.

"Sorry? For what? Poisoning your child? Leaving your other child alone on some backwater planet? Stealing my baby?" he asked.

"I- !" she shouted, but whatever else she was going to say died away. Because he was right. They both knew it. No matter how she defended her actions, he was right.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She reopened them. All the poise of Padmé Amidala had returned.

However, when she spoke it wasn't her Amidala voice. It wasn't her mother voice. It was the voice she used for him. The voice she used when he snuck away from the Jedi Temple to her apartment. The voice she would whisper into his hair.

"I'm sorry, Anakin," she said.

For a second he didn't know what to say. His mind whirled. He wasn't Anakin. Did she think that would move him? Get him to relent? He wasn't. He clenched his jaw. If he had to, he would have her arrested, but she would not-

His eyes went wide. His mouth fell open in a silent gasp. He fought desperately, but his eyes rolled back into his head and his body gave way. He had lost consciousness before he hit the ground.


He awoke to the familiar light gray metal ceiling of a star destroyer. He glanced around. He was in a medical room. He groaned as his prosthetic hand ripped out of the tubes from his flesh hand. The machines nearby started to beep. With a wave of his hand and the Force, they silenced.

"Your majesty?" came a voice.

He sat up. His head hurt. It pounded against his skull and the back of his eyes. His mouth was dry. He hunched over and placed his head in his hands as the galaxy righted itself. He glared up to see a Royal Red Guard at the end of his bed. Through the Force he recognized it as the captain of the guard.

"Children," he said in a scratchy voice.

"Sir?"

"My children," he said. "Where are my children?"

"The prince and princess are in the royal quarters- Your majesty?"

Vader ripped the covers off of him. He had been dressed down to just his pants and shirt. His cape, belt, gloves, jacket and boots were gone. They were smart enough to leave his lightsaber by his bedside. He summoned it to his hand then marched out of the room.

A human male doctor ran into him. He must have been coming to the room to check on the Emperor.

"Your- your majesty?" he exclaimed. "You need to-to go lay back down!"

Vader pushed him aside. The other Red Guards lurking outside the room were smart enough to move aside and let him pass. He marched out of the med bay. His bare feet slapped against the cold metal floor. The crew he passed in the hall looked at him half in wide-eyed curiosity at his state and the other in rightful fear. None said anything beyond a jumbled greeting paired with clumsy bows or salutes. He didn't pause or give any one of them a second though. His thoughts were purely on his path and destination.

The guards guarding the royal quarters nodded as he passed them. The first room was the sitting room. He almost ran through it and into the hallway. His free hand slammed on the door panel. The door slid open with a soft hiss. He marched in and his breath got caught in his throat.

He was in Leia's room, but there two forms curled up on her bed entwined in each other. He walked swiftly to the bedside and paused. They were here. They were both here. He fell to his knees and dropped his lightsaber to the floor. He leaned over and with his flesh hand gently stroked Leia's cheek with his knuckles.

They were here. They were both here.

What had happened? He realized he had been shot by a stun bolt from behind. Surely it wasn't one of the twins. Another person? Someone had snuck up from behind? He hadn't even sensed them? Impossible . . . Or maybe not. What else could it have been? And what had happened to Padmé? And the little girl? He had so many questions. He would need to question the guards as to what they found, but for now he enjoyed his children. He reached over and brushed Luke's cheek.

They were here. All three of them. Together. He hadn't lost them.


He had fallen asleep like that. Hunched over the bed. His hand resting on Leia's chest as he watched it rise and fall. He woke up stiff and sore to Luke nudging him awake. He left them as he returned back to his room and showered. There was a report waiting for him from the guards.

He brought it with him into the kitchen. He read over it while he made himself a cup of caf and drank it.

The guards had been altered to Vader's location due to the positioning signature being activated on his comlink. He hadn't activated it. He had been stunned before he could do that. When the guards arrived to the rundown house, they found Vader, Luke, and Leia. The twins informed the guards that Vader had been stunned by a mysterious figure dressed in all black who had already left the premises. The guards had tried to questioned the twins more, but they had said nothing else on what had happened.

There was no mention of Padmé. No mention of a little girl with long brown curly hair and big blue eyes the color of the sky.

He ran his flesh hand down his face. There was only one way to get answers. He waited until after the twins had eaten breakfast, which was a tense and silent affair. They kept glancing at him. Their eyes wide and guilty. Vader said nothing. Just quietly sipped his caf as he waited for them to finish. Once done he called them into the sitting room. They followed. Their feet dragged against the carpet all the way to the couch Vader had motioned for them to sit on.

He pulled up an ottoman and sat down in front of them. They were both tense and were avoiding contact with him. He took a deep breath.

"Luke. Leia," he said in a stern voice. They both jumped, but they both looked at him. Two pairs of large eyes were on him. "I need to know what happened."

They exchanged looks with each other. They might be silently communicating in the Force. They had such an intricately woven and intimate bond, that not even Vader could worm his way into. The eyes focused back on him.

"I know I was stunned," he said slowly. "Was there someone else there?"

"Yes," Leia said.

"Who?"

"Some man," Leia said. "I don't know who he was. He was dressed in all black including a black helmet."

"I saw him earlier," Luke said in a soft voice. "I saw him . . . when I first saw . . . When I first saw Mother. I thought he was chasing her. It looked like she was in trouble."

"And that is why you jumped from the balcony?" Vader asked.

"Yes," Luke said, lowering his gaze to his lap.

"I didn't sense anyone," Vader growled. "How did someone sneak up on me?"

"We couldn't feel the Force when he was near!" Leia said. "It was just . . . suddenly gone. But it came back when the man left!"

"It left but then it came back?" Vader asked. "And there was nothing odd about this man?"

"He had a lizard with him," Luke said. "One that sat on his shoulders." Luke motioned with hands how the lizard was draped across the man's shoulders.

"A lizard? Describe it to me."

"Orange," Luke said as he glanced at his sister. "Four eyes. Had these funny ears."

"So a man showed up with a lizard on his shoulders. He stunned me, and then what happened?"

Leia looked at Luke. Her eyes wide. "Mother asked . . ." Leia said, but trailed off.

"Mother asked if we wanted to go with her," Luke finished for her.

Vader's breath got caught in his throat. "And?" he managed to squeeze out.

"We didn't," Leia said as she crossed her arms across her chest. "We said we wanted to stay with you."

Vader looked at Luke, who was staring intently down at his lap and avoiding eye contact with his father.

"You both said that?" Vader pushed. Leia shot Luke a glance. There was something there in that look. Vader looked at his son. "Luke? You said you would stay?"

Luke looked up sheepishly. "Yes," he said in a very soft voice.

Vader leaned back and regarded his children. Padmé had asked if they wanted to go with her, and they hadn't. Leia he could understand, but Luke? There was a good possibility Luke would go if his mother asked him. Unlike Leia, he harbored no ill will against his mother. He hadn't embraced the Dark Side like Leia had. He still stubbornly clung to the light. Vader knew he made his son uncomfortable when he tried to push Luke towards the darkness. But he had never pushed Luke too far. It had made Vader uncomfortable to see his son like that for too long. He loved Luke. He didn't want to push his son away from him.

"And then what?" Vader said.

"They left," Luke said still not looking up. "The man, mother, and . . . and . . . the baby."

Except it wasn't a baby. Not anymore.

"Then I called the guards," Leia said. "With your comlink."

He allowed the children to leave, which they gratefully did. Vader found himself standing at the large viewport of the sitting room. His hands clasped behind his back as he looked out at the stars and the blue and green planet below.

Padmé had asked the twins if they wanted to live with her. And they choose Vader. Their father. They chose him. They wanted to be here with him. He couldn't stop the smile that grew on his lips. It wasn't a full smile. It was a bit sad. But it was a smile, because he was happy. Luke and Leia had chosen him. For the first time, his loved ones hadn't betrayed him. They had decided to stay loyal to him.

And yet despite this, tears welled in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks with a smile still on his face.

Chapter Text

Chapter 41: The Take Off

"This was very dangerous and completely irresponsible, Padmé!"

Padmé couldn't help but sigh.

"I'm serious," said the figure in the holograph.

"I know," Padmé responded softly.

"It would be one thing if you had run off and done that by yourself, but with your daughter? Vader now knows you're still out there."

"He's always known that, Ahsoka," Padmé said.

The Togruta had grown into a fine young woman from when Padmé knew her as a teenager. She was dressed in space leathers and amour. She stood straight and with confidence. Anakin would be proud of her. Padmé was.

Padmé knew she couldn't return to any of her old allies after she had ran away from Vader with the baby. She didn't know where to turn to. She knew she couldn't go back to her old allies. After three months, Padmé ran into Ahsoka Tano. She had been Anakin Skywalker's Jedi padawan during the Clone Wars. It was Ahsoka who connected Padmé with this group of Rebels. A completely new and different group of Rebels than the ones she had been a part of before. It was a fresh start, which was what Padmé needed.

For now Rebel cells worked mostly independently though a few worked together. However, most were connected via the Fulcrum Information Network. Ahsoka had told her of this. But now the Rebellion was changing. They were looking to finally unite into a cohesive single unit. And if that happened, Padmé would need to leave. Bail Organa had become a figure head of this growing alliance along with Mon Mothma. Two individuals who knew Padmé. There were also rumors of Obi-Wan Kenobi working for them. Ahsoka wouldn't confirm or deny if that was the case, but only assured Padmé she had told no one of her whereabouts.

For now she would have to trust Ahsoka. Trust Ahsoka to keep her location a secret, but also to help her find a place to live away from any Rebels and the Empire. The problem was Varné, who Ahsoka had confirmed was incredibly strong in the Force. There had to be a way to protect this little girl and keep her father from finding her.

It was Ahsoka who first mentioned the ysalamir. She was the one who had used her contacts to procure one. The trader would meet with Padmé here, on Anobis. It was a mid-rim world in the galactic north. It housed two distinct communities: one for farming and one for mining. When humans had settled on this planet centuries ago, the two groups of humans had colonized different parts of the planet. The two communities were quite separate from each other. Not only through distance, but also culturally. However, they were able to sustain themselves by trading with one another.

Until the Clone Wars and the rise of the Empire, which caused the demand for ore and crystals to go up. The miners started to trade with off worlders and the farmers simply became self-sufficient. Now there were growing tensions on the planet. The farming community backed the Rebels and secretly traded with them. The miners, who were pro-Empire, were not ok with this. They didn't want to bring the wrath of Emperor Vader on them.

With the threat of a civil war, the Rebels had come to try and assist the farmers. They needed the continued support of the farmers. Perhaps this threat of civil war is why Vader came for an unexpected and unannounced visit. With the Emperor and his family in the system, orbital traffic was being heavily monitored by Vader's own fleet. The Rebels decided it would be best to lay low.

Yet Padmé couldn't help herself. When she heard on the news the Imperial family would be at the capitol building, she went. She rarely left Varné alone, so she took her daughter with her. She knew it was a risk. A stupid risk. But they were here. Luke and Leia. Her children. The ones she had left with him.

And she missed them. And, if she was honest, she felt guilty. So guilty about what she had done. She didn't deserve the twins. But she wanted to make it right. She still didn't want to lose them to the Dark Side. Lose them as she had Anakin. Her old dreams still haunted her. The ones with shadowed children holding small red lightsabers that cut off her legs and happily announced that now their mother wouldn't leave them.

She had hoped they would come with her when she saw them in that old house. When she had given them a choice. And yet . . . they had declined. Leia had been so confident in her answer. A quick sharp no. There was anger there. Betrayal. And Padmé couldn't blame her. But Luke, oh her dear sweet Luke, was a different matter. He looked at his unconscious father and his angry sister. His face was still puffy from crying. Then he said no. He wanted to stay with his father and sister.

A sob had bubbled up inside of Padmé when he said that. She recognized that determined look on his face. He was doing what Padmé had not done. He was trying to keep his family anchored in the light. Perhaps it was for the best Luke stayed. But it still hurt Padmé to leave them. Her heart crumpled and she cried silently the entire ride back to the ship.

Her sweet little Varné sat in her mother's lap or curled up with her in bed. She patted Padmé's head and told her it would be alright. She kissed her mother's cheek saying she would be all better.

"I just can't believe that you put Varné in that position," Ahsoka continued. "Especially with everything we've been doing. The whole point was to avoid detection, Padmé! Now not only does Vader know what she looks like and most likely has gotten some security holo of her, but I fear this incident has attracted the Rebellion's attention. The kind of attention you've been avoiding."

So she had messed up. Again.

She closed her eyes. They were puffy and red and most likely blood-shot. She was tired, but knew she wouldn't be able to sleep if she laid down.

"I'm sorry, Ahsoka," Padmé said softly. "I couldn't just . . . I couldn't . . . I had to see them. I don't expect you to understand. They are my children. And . . . And . . . I had to."

Ahsoka sighed. "I do understand, Padmé. I do. And if either one of the twins or both had accepted your proposal, then this would be a completely different matter. I don't blame you for trying. I just wished . . . Well you had put some more thought into it. Though I'm not sure how we would have pulled it off."

A small silence stretched between them.

"Go get some rest," Ahsoka finally said. "I have work to do. Hopefully I can get any unwanted attention off your back from the Rebellion side of things. I can't promise about the Empire though. Who knows how Vader will react after this."

Padmé nodded and the holo blinked off. Her small room went dark. She looked over her shoulder to the slim bunk in the wall where the little girl laid asleep. Her brown curls splayed out on the pillow. She clutched a green Twi'lek stuffed toy. Padmé silently left the room and made her way into the hallway. She walked to a room across the hall and knocked on the door. It slid open.

"Hello, Kanan," she said as she walked in.

The young man sat on the bed. He had long since gotten out of the black outfit he wore on Anobis. Instead he wore his typical green shirt with the leather detailing and grey pants. Though he had yet to put on the armor he wore on his right arm.

"Ah, Padmé," he said.

"I wanted to apologize," she said. "About my actions on Anobis. I put you in danger. You didn't have to come to my aid."

"Heh," Kanan said softly. "I keep thinking about how I snuck up on Emperor Vader. He was right there. I stunned him. I could have shot him. I could have . . . killed him. Ended it all."

There was a pain inside of Padmé's chest at that thought.

"Thank you for not doing that," she said softly. He was confused. "I would never want my children to see their father killed in front of them."

He nodded. "Now what?" he asked.

"I guess we continue with the plan," she replied.

"You'll go into hiding?"

"What else is there to do? I at least have to keep Varné safe. I can't fail her."

"I know . . . You aren't keen on the idea, but there are other Jedi out there. Jedi who could train her . . ."

"No," she said sternly. She was tired of having her children thought of only in terms of the power with the Force. They were children. They deserved to have a childhood. They weren't soldiers. They weren't tools.

"At least we know that lizard can keep you safe and hidden," he said softly. "Though I can't help but think how handy they could be to the Rebellion."

A chill went through. How handy they would be to sneak up on Vader. On her children. She swallowed a lump down her throat. She would need to talk to Ahsoka again. And say . . . and say what? Please don't use the ysalamiri on her family? Did she have any right to make that demand? She sighed.

"Thank you again," she said softly. "And I am sorry. I know you may not understand . . . but . . . they are my family. I had to see them."

"I do understand," Kanan said softly. "If I could see my family again, I would have done the same."

And she knew he was talking about the Jedi. She couldn't bear to be in the room any longer. She turned and quickly left. Her husband was the one who had killed Kanan's family. She paused in the small hallway. She took a moment and then returned to her room. She slid into the small bunk as carefully as she could as to not wake her daughter. She tried to sleep, but found only more tears and heartbreak waiting for her.


Padmé gripped her daughter's hand as they walked through the space port. She pushed a hovercrate in front of her that held the ysalamiri. Ahsoka had gotten a ship for Padmé and Varné, so they could go to a place where they could be safe. It was sad to leave Kanan and his crew of The Ghost. They wanted to take Padmé into hiding themselves, but they were called off to a mission. Plus it was for the best. If Vader or the Rebellion had managed to track Padmé down to The Ghost, it would be unwise for them to take her to her hiding spot. Plus a small ship of her own gave her mobility.

So now it was just Padmé and Varné again. Well, plus the lizard. The spaceport was busy and packed. It had been selected purposely so they could get lost in the crowd. But the crowd made her nervous. She kept glancing around. Any time someone made eye contact with her, her anxiety would spike. Then the person would move on and so would she.

You're paranoid, she chastised herself.

They had made it to the bays for the small ships. The crowd had thinned out. Again she spotted someone staring at her, and she tried to brush it off. But yet her thoughts kept nagging at her. Didn't they look familiar? Had she seen them before? It was possible. When she saw them again a third time staring at her, the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Her heart started to pound in her chest. She scooped up Varné and sat her on the crate and started to walk faster towards the bay where Padmé's ship awaited.

Padmé wasn't sure how she was going to lose the pursuers. That is if they were even pursuers at all. It could be nothing. It could be something. What had her life come to? What had she reduced herself to? She was Padmé Amidala. She could handle this. And she wasn't going to let anyone to take or hurt her daughter.

She pushed the crate on at a fast pace. She didn't want to run, as that may alert anyone if they were following her. If she was a pursuer then she would wait until she had made it to the bay where her ship was. Less likely to be seen or heard. Less likely to have someone try to intervene. So once she made it to her bay, she would not have a lot of time to act.

She looked at the numbers marking the bays on the wall. She was getting close to where her ship was supposed to be docked. She slowed her pace as she looked into the bays that she passed. She examined how large they were. What basic amenities did each one offer? What did she have to work with?

By the time she was three bays away from her destination, she had a plan. She pulled sharply in the third bay. Luckily there was a ship there. She slammed on the door release panel. It came swiftly down. She didn't pause. She pulled out her blaster she had hidden in her jacket and shot the door controls. She scooped up Varné from the crate and ran across the hangar into the small door in the back. Padmé had assumed correctly. There was a service hallway connecting each of the bays back here.

She ran down the hall. Varné held on tight. Behind her, Padmé heard noises behind her. Noises of scraping metal and shouts. She turned into her bay. The ship was just as expected, small and nondescript. She pressed the release for the loading ramp. It lowered far too slowly for her taste. She was running up it before it even finished loading. She ran into the cockpit. She placed Varné in a seat and spun to the control panel.

However, before she could start the ship up, she froze. The large bay door connecting this hangar to the rest of the spaceport was still open. People with blasters stood at the entrance looking down the hallway towards the bay Padmé had originally ducked into. She would need a quick takeoff. She paused as she ran over everything in her mind so she could do it quickly and smoothly.

She glanced up through the viewport, and her heart dropped into her stomach. The bay's aerial door was closed. There were two ways to open it. Com the port control and have them open it, or press a manual release button in the bay. Contacting control would take time. Any moment she could be spotted. Plus was control compromised? But the manual control button was on the bay's wall. Which Padmé would have to leave the ship for and most likely get spotted by those people hanging around the bay door.

She decided to stay in the ship. She turned the com on and hailed port control.

"Port Control," came a voice.

"This is the ship in bay CF-4229. I'm requesting the ariel bay doors be open for departure," Padmé said.

There was a pause. A pause she didn't like.

"Control?" she asked.

Silence. Suddenly the group standing in front of the bay doors turned towards her ship and started walking into the bay. Their guns were up.

"Kriff," she hissed.

The guns on this ship were not strong enough to blast through the doors. Plus she lacked a good angle to shoot at them. She eyed the manual release button on the wall. Then she looked over at Varné, who sat quietly in the co-pilot chair clutching her toy doll.

There was something tight inside of Padmé. A burning under her eyes and pressure in her cheeks. She slowly pulled a small data disc from her pocket and slid it into the ship's control panel. At once it asked if she wanted to run the program, and she clicked the affirmative. The ship engines started up. She turned to her daughter and strapped her in. She said a few soothing words. Then she kissed her little girl goodbye.

She stood up, tightened her hold on the blaster, and walked out of the cockpit. She came down the loading ramp with firing off her blaster at the group that had entered the bay. She didn't pause to hide. She ran while firing to the control panel. She slammed the release button. The aerial doors opened. The autopilot had kicked in as programed, and the ship started to take off. Padmé watched as it slowly rose up, taking her daughter away from her and hopefully towards some place safe.

She didn't have time to watch it for long. The blaster bolts kept coming. More spacers with weapons ran into the bay. A few ran out of the door that led to the service hallway. It wasn't long before Padmé was cornered. There was nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. Those around her all held their blasters at the ready.

"Padmé Amidala," someone shouted in a rough voice.

She held her head up high, but said nothing. Someone was moving through the crowd. The gathered group made of humans and aliens parted. A human man walked forward. He was dressed a bit nicer than the rest of the spacers. Like a merchant or traveler. But Padmé knew that face with the haunted eyes.

"Bail," she whispered.

Chapter Text

Padmé glared at Bail, but his face was neutral. Perhaps a bit tired. But it didn't seem to hold the venom of Padmé's stare.

"Padmé, put your blaster down and-" he said.

"And what?" she snapped. "Have one of your men attack me again? Leave me for dead? Use me in another ploy or diversion? I will not be a pawn in your games. In anyone's game anymore."

Bail sighed and slightly shook his head.

"Padmé, I don't think you're in any position to . . ."

She ripped her blaster up and positioned it right under her chin. The barrel dug into the soft flesh there.

Everyone tensed up.

"Padmé," Bail said in a low voice.

"I meant it," she said.

It wasn't her first choice. Not even her third choice, but she would not be used against her husband or her children by . . . by them. She was Padmé Amidala.

Suddenly the blaster jerked out of her hand. It soared into the air, over the heads of the people surrounding her, and clattered softly to the ground.

She sucked in a sharp breath as her eyes scanned the crowd looking for the Force user as no one else could have pulled that off. It was on her second sweep of the crowd that her eyes stopped on a pair of familiar blue-grey eyes.

Obi-Wan Kenobi.

She wasn't surprised.


Emperor Vader swept down the ramp of his shuttle and into his palace on Mustafar. A single servant, the one who was in charge of running the palace, awaited him. He bowed, but Vader didn't pause. He surged forward leaving the man to scramble to catch up.

"Your- your majesty," the man said out of breath. "Welcome back to Mustafar."

"Any updates?" he asked.

"No, sir," the man said. He was struggling to keep up with Vader's fast pace. "The girl still has yet to say anything. But we did finally get her to eat."

They entered a turbolift.

"Also the medical staff have released a report of recommendations for the girl," the servant said as he dabbed his sweaty face with a handkerchief.

"Recommendations?" Vader growled.

"Vaccines and vitamins," the servant said. "She is a bit underweight and small for her age. Perhaps malnourished."

Vader grounded his teeth together. His hands balled into tight fists. He wasn't that surprised. Padmé had most likely been living a horrid life the past four years, and of course, his little girl was suffering the consequences.

The lift opened and Vader stormed out. This level was strictly for the personal quarters of his family. He could feel his daughter in the Force. Small, but strong. So much like Luke and Leia. So much like him. He used the Force to open the door to his own room, walked in and paused.

A servant woman sat on the edge of his bed and a small little girl was curled up amongst his pillows with her knees to her chest. Her arms wrapped tightly around them. Her large blue eyes were instantly on him. The servant stood up and bowed. Vader waved his hand in dismissal and she left him alone, for the first time, with his daughter. He quietly crossed the room and came to the side of the bed.

He looked down at her; she looked up at him. She was so small. Had Luke and Leia ever been this small? Perhaps when he first found them? But even then they had been a year older than this little one. Vader slowly lowered himself to the edge of the bed in the very spot the servant had just been sitting.

"Hello there," he said softly.

Big blue eyes continued to stare at him. Vader took a deep breath.

"Do you know who I am?" he asked. She didn't respond. "I'm your father."

Still nothing.

There was a slight pain in Vader's heart. He shouldn't be surprised considering what had happened to the twins. At least this child had been raised with her mother, and like the other members of this family, had been abandoned by Padmé. She had been left adrift in a spaceship all by herself. It had exited out of hyperspace near the planet broadcasting an old code Senator Amidala of Naboo.

Anger flared up inside him. The little girl flinched. She curled up tighter as she sensed it. He pushed the emotion down. It would do no good to get angry here. He slowly reached forward and those blue eyes watched his hand, but she didn't shrink away. He gently placed his hand, his flesh hand, on the top of her head. He felt the soft curls. It was so much like Padmé's hair.

He started to gently stroke it. The little girl seemed to relax a small fraction.

"You're safe now," Vader said. His voice was still soft.

They sat like that for a while.

"Are you hungry?" he asked. She shook her head slightly. "Thirsty?" Again she shook her head no.

He sighed. He knew that wasn't the truth. She had barely eaten anything since arriving here. He'd devoured everything in all the reports about her.

"Little one," he said. "You have to eat."

"Mommy," came a soft pathetic little voice that was laced with longing and sadness.

It was like an arrow, and it stabbed Vader right in the heart. He knew this heartbreak. This loneliness. He scooted up the bed and wrapped his arms around his daughter. He pulled her to him. She didn't uncurl but she did rest her head against his chest. Vader leaned his head down and left a small kiss on top of her head.

"Don't worry," Vader said softly. "I'll find her."

He would. One way or another, it was time to find his wife and bring her to his side for good.


Vader sat in his office on board his personal star destroyer. The blue streaks of hyperspace sped by outside the viewport. He was on his way back to Imperial Center with his little daughter in tow. Varné was asleep in his room nearby.

There was no reason to stay on Mustafar. He didn't have anything for the girl there. No clothes her size, no real room of her own, no toys except for a small stuffed Twi'lek she carried around with her that she had when they found her on the ship. Plus that was where Luke and Leia were, who were very excited to meet their sister. He had charged them with helping to prepare a room for her. A task they seemed enthusiastic to take.

The small shuttle Varné had been found in was on board the destroyer too. It was being looked over by his intelligence officers for whatever scrap of information they could find. He was currently looking at a report of what they had discovered so far.

The shuttle had been programmed to fly on autopilot to Mustafar and used clearance codes only Padmé would know. So Padmé had purposely sent the shuttle there with her daughter, but not herself. Why? They soon discovered the spaceport of it had taken off and agents were digging into retrieving files, registrations, and security holograms.

There was a small bump. That station had been attacked by Rebels. Its archives were raided and destroyed. It couldn't be a coincidence. Had Rebels cornered Padmé? Is that why she sent Varné alone to him? Did that mean Padmé had been taken by the Rebels?

He needed more information. If they had her . . . What would the Rebels do with her? It seemed like she had cut off all of her connections from them after she left four years ago. That wasn't surprising after what he revealed about Bail and then the Rebels stealing Luke and Leia and attacking Padmé on Velm. At least she wasn't clinging to them anymore. But who and where had she been clinging to? Someone was helping her, or had been.

Whoever it was wasn't doing a good job at helping raise a little girl. Vader sighed and leaned his head back. Varné was small. Too small. Unvaccinated and malnourished and shy. She barely talked. Vader had tried to talk to her, tried to get some information from her, but the little girl would not talk.

What life had Padmé been living these past four years? And was it really better than being with him? Being where their child would be healthy and happy?

Well, at least he had the girl now. He could start to rectify some of the damage and hope none of it would be long-lasting.

The door opened to his office and he sat up straight. A red royal guard stood at the entrance, but he didn't approach. A small little girl did. Her bare feet slapped against the cold floor as she ran in and around the desk and crawled into his lap.

"Varné?" Vader asked as the door closed leaving the two of them alone.

The child didn't say anything. She just curled up in his lap and placed her head against his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around her and held her for a moment.

"You're supposed to be sleeping, little one," he said softly. Again, nothing. She just snuggled closer to him.

He gave her forehead a quick kiss as he stood up and carried her out of the office. His guards fell quietly in step behind him for the short journey down the hall to his room but didn't follow him in. Vader placed Varné down on the bed and pulled the covers up to her chin. He gave a quick kiss on the cheek and a smile.

She wasn't happy. Her lips were turned into a pout. She was gripping the edge of the covers in a white-knuckled hold. Her blue eyes were large and wide and pleading though he didn't know what she was asking him.

He sat down on the edge of the bed. "What's wrong?" he asked.

She let out a small whine.

"Did you have a nightmare?" he asked. She shook her head. One of her small hands let go of the covers and grabbed his sleeve. She tugged on it and gave another small whine. "Do you . . . do you want me to stay?"

She nodded.

His heart softened. How could he say no to that? He hadn't planned on sleeping for a while yet, but perhaps he could lay down until she did.

"Well let me get into my sleep clothes," he said as he stepped away.

Her blues eyes were on him the entire time watching intently. He could feel her anxiety humming in the Force. Was she afraid he was going to leave her too? Like Padmé had? There was a pain in his heart thinking about that. Oh, this poor little baby girl. He wasn't going to do that.

He crawled into the other side of the bed, and Varné was wrapping her arms around his chest before he had finished laying down. She squeezed her father tightly, and he wrapped her up in his arms. It didn't take long for her to fall asleep on his chest. He considered gently sliding her over onto the bed and returning to his work, but . . . He decided to stay until sleep finally claimed him too.


"Remember," Vader had told the twins over a holocall, "be calm around her. She's very shy and everything is new to her."

He looked down at the little girl in his arms. Varné was quite at home and fully at ease in his arms now as she stared in wide-eyed wonder at the halls of her new home. He could sense the twins' excitement in the Force and their gentle prods towards their sister's presence. He wasn't sure if Varné had noticed. It was obvious she was strong in the Force, but also that she had no training.

The door to the bedroom opened without Vader having to touch a thing. Luke and Leia were on the balls of their feet. Their eyes were wide and smiles stretched across their faces. Their bodies buzzed with barely contained energy. Vader glanced around the room. He had seen plenty of holos of it, had approved every item in there personally, but it was still nice to see it all together in person. The walls were painted a soft blue and green with a pattern of flowers. There were flowers sewn into the comforters and pressed into frames hanging on the walls.

"Hi!" Luke said as Vader slowly sat down on the floor. Varné shifted to get comfortable in his lap.

The little girl was . . . attached? Clingy? She didn't like to be separated from Vader. If he left her alone, she would either cry quietly until he came back or go find him if he was close believed she was using the Force subconsciously to sense him and find him. She especially liked to be held and would sit contentedly in his lap for hours. If he placed her in a chair beside him or on the floor, she would just climb right back up.

He had mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it was very cute and he secretly enjoyed the attention. Yet, on the other hand it was concerning. They couldn't be together all the time. He was Emperor. He had a job to do, one that was often bloody, and she was just his tiny little girl who needed to live the life of a spoiled princess free from any blood for a long, long time. Perhaps in time he would train her as he was with Luke and Leia. She could be another strong Sith, but for now, he just wanted her to be happy and healthy.

"This is Luke and Leia," Vader said. "Your brother and sister."

They had met before via a few holocalls during the trip. The twins wanted her opinion on what she wanted in her room. What kind of toys did she like? What kind of clothes? Varné never said a word. Sometimes she would just stare at the twins, while other times she would bury her head into Vader's neck or chest.

"Can you say hello?" Vader asked.

At least she wasn't shying away and trying to hide right now. She looked at Luke and Leia for a long moment before she looked around the room.

"Do you want to check out your room?" Vader asked. "This is your room now."

Big blue eyes looked up at him; he smiled reassuringly at her.

Slowly she got up and walked over to a white toy chest. A few toys sat purposefully on top. She picked up a baby doll and cradled it like a mother would a child. She put it back and then scurried back over to her father, jumped into his lap, and cuddled against him.

Well at least she had left for a small bit and had shown interest in the toys.

"Did you like your doll?" Leia asked. "Luke picked that one out."

"You want to see your other toys?" Luke asked. He scooted a bit closer to her. "I can show you."

He held out his hand, and after a small wait Varné took it. Luke gently led her back over to the toy chest with Leia right beside them. All three children sat down in front of the chest and started to explore its contents. Vader just watched and smiled. They were all here. Together. All three of his children. Playing together. Happy. It was perfect.

His smile faded just a fraction. Almost perfect. There was of course the matter of Padmé. If she was here, willingly, then it would be perfect. They could have been together all along with him protecting and loving them. A glorious royal family.

And even though he had his children, there were cracks in this family all caused by his wife. Mental scars that raced through each of them. Luke's sadness. Leia's anger. Varné's silent clinginess. Vader pinched the bridge of his nose. He needed to find a good therapist for Varné. There was concern of trauma, which would hopefully explain her current behavior.

"What kind of trauma?" Vader had demanded of the med droid.

"I cannot say, your majesty, without knowing what her life was like prior to this. We do not know if this is how she has always behaved, or if this is a defensive reaction to something traumatic."

"Like being separated from her mother?"

"Possible, sire."

He would need to do that tomorrow. He may not be staying on the planet long. Imperial agents had recovered footage from the spaceport. It showed a group of Rebels escorting Padmé down a hallway. So she was in their custody.

No matter. He had sworn he would find her regardless of who she was with. If the Rebels thought to use her against him, he would just kill them all until he got to her. And if he couldn't do that, he would figure out their names, their planets, their families, and he would destroy each one of those things until he had Padmé. Because no longer would she be free. She was going to be him. He would allow nothing to stand between them.

Darth Vader wouldn't be bargaining with his wife anymore, and he certainly would not bargain with Rebels.