“So it’s official, then,” Obi-Wan Kenobi said, reading the news off of his datapad. “One of the Senate aides has tested positive for the haptovirus, which means the entire Senate has been exposed. By Chancellary order, the Senate is in recess for two weeks and all Senators are ordered to self-quarantine for that entire time, along with anyone who has been in contact with them. Anyone who does not develop symptoms at the end of this period will be cleared to return to work.”
“The CIS aren’t going to just push ‘pause’ on the war for two weeks,” Anakin growled. “We need to be back out there!”
“All planetary traffic has been suspended,” Obi-Wan reminded him, feeling even his patience begin to wear a bit thin. “Nobody enters or leaves Coruscant for two weeks, including us. Master Yoda himself contacted me this morning to tell us to consider this an extended leave. He also ordered us to follow the quarantine order and stay put.”
Anakin rubbed at his jaw, grimacing, and looked around at the finery of their surroundings.
At the interior of Padmé Amidala’s apartment.
“I could just take my fighter back to the Temple –”
“And risk exposing the younglings there?”
“We have plenty of bacta –”
“And the Council has already agreed to make that supply available to the public. More will come, but if too many people disregard the order there simply won’t be enough to help everyone. We must compress the parabola, as Mas Amedda is so fond of saying.”
Defeated, Anakin collapsed back into the rich cushions of Padmé’s couch. The panoramic view of Coruscant visible through the bay window seemed to taunt him, glimmering spires and open air just out of reach. He could go out onto the balcony, of course, but he was grounded, and he knew it.
“I know it’ll be challenging, staying here,” Obi-Wan continued. “And it’s bad luck that we were here on business when the order went out. But we’ve been in far more unpleasant places, and we’ve managed.”
“Oh, I’m not worried,” Anakin lied. “Like Master Yoda said. An extended leave.”
They sat there in silence for a few moments, looking at one another. Then Padmé called from the other room, “I’m going to use the shower! No one run the dish-cleanser.”
“Got it!” Anakin called back, trying to put his thoughts about Padmé showering in a little box and then put that box into another box and put that second box into a deep, dark place in his mind where its contents wouldn’t bother him and wouldn’t show up on Obi-Wan’s mental radar.
He failed, of course.
The first two days were easy enough. Padmé still had work to do, even though she was restricted to her apartment, and she spent much of her time in her office, holoconferencing and writing messages to people. Anakin worked out in the guest suite, Obi-Wan spent most of his time in the main conversation room reading the news and meditating, and then in the evenings Padmé cooked dinner. Both Obi-Wan and Anakin offered to do it, but she asked them if either had ever actually cooked before and just nodded when they both exchanged nervous, guilty glances.
The third night, however, Padmé wanted to watch a new holodrama, some kind of period piece promising epic adventure and romance, and invited both of them to view it with her. Anakin overplayed his hand and immediately said yes, fully expecting Obi-Wan to shun such obvious nonsense and retire to the guest suite.
“I could do with a bit of levity, actually,” Obi-Wan said. “So, yes, thank you. I think I shall.”
So there Anakin was, sitting on one end of the couch, his wife on the other, Obi-Wan planted squarely between them. His former Master seemed entirely engrossed, the only deviations in his attention the occasional act of popping a piece of exploded sweetcorn into his mouth.
Anakin leaned back into the couch, craning his neck back so he could look at Padmé past the back of Obi-Wan’s head. He caught her eye, raised an eyebrow, ever-so-slightly gestured with his head toward her bedroom, grinned. She bit her lower lip for a moment, clearly tempted, then gave him a minute shake of her head, gestured at Obi-Wan with her eyes, widened them ever so slightly.
Obi-Wan clearly picked up Anakin’s frustration in the Force, because he glanced over at him. Anakin quickly reached a hand back to massage his neck, as though his unnatural position were the result of a stretching exercise. “Something wrong, Anakin?”
“I just can’t believe Celene doesn’t believe Ghislaine loves her,” Anakin said, gesturing at the holoscreen. “Her devotion is so obvious!”
“Yes, it is,” Obi-Wan agreed. “But as always, my friend, you have not analyzed the deeper intricacies of the situation. Celene says she doesn’t believe Ghislaine, but –”
“But she’s only saying that to spare Ghislaine pain,” Padmé interrupted. “Because Celene knows that her duties as Empress mean she and Ghislaine can never be together. Not the way Ghislaine wants them to be.”
“I mean, I know that,” Anakin lied. “The situation just gets me, that’s all.”
“Something in particular about it cut a little close to home, perhaps?” Obi-Wan asked dryly.
Anakin narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean by that?”
“Oh, nothing.” Obi-Wan leaned back into the couch, stretching his neck in exactly the way Anakin had supposedly been doing only a few moments before. “Just a meaningless observation. Perhaps the lack of fresh air is getting to me. I think I’ll take some on the balcony once the holodrama is done.”
He only took about fifteen minutes’ worth of that air, but it was enough for Anakin and Padmé. At least for that night.
The fourth day was uneventful, except for the fact that Padmé seemed unusually subdued as she said goodnight and went to her rooms. Anakin wanted to sneak in to see her, to ask if there was something wrong, but Obi-Wan stayed up damnably late reading the news and Anakin knew she needed her sleep.
The fifth night, Obi-Wan retired to the guest suite early, claiming fatigue – no surprise, Anakin thought a little bitterly, considering how late he’d been up the night before. But when he crept, padfooted, to Padmé’s bedroom an hour after Obi-Wan went to bed, she told him there was something on her mind.
“You can tell me anything,” he said, completely earnest.
Padmé wrung her hands and paced. “You say that, but I – I’m afraid, Anakin. That if I tell you this, it’ll be crossing a line that we can’t go back over.” She shook her head. “But that if I don’t tell you, it wouldn’t be honest. And I never want to be anything but honest with you.”
Concerned, Anakin told her, “Whatever it is, we’ll handle it, Padmé. I promise. I love you.”
She nodded, took a deep breath. “Last night, I was so braindead from work I went from my office to the guest ’fresher instead of mine. It’s something I do when I’m alone in the apartment, because the guest ’fresher is closer.”
“And?” Anakin asked.
“I opened the door without thinking and bumped into Obi-Wan. He had just gotten out of the shower.” Padmé began worrying at one of her curls. “He was extremely naked.”
Anakin blinked. He’d seen Obi-Wan in nothing but a towel more than once, going with him to the Temple saunas after a long day in the training dojo. But he’d been a boy, and Obi-Wan his Master; the situation had been divorced utterly from any sexual context. Now, he realized that no such context existed between Obi-Wan and Padmé.
“I see,” Anakin said, in the absence of knowing what he should actually say.
“Anakin, I love you,” Padmé said. “You know that. But after I saw him like that, I – I haven’t been able to get him out of my head.” She raised an eyebrow. “In that way, I mean.”
Anakin nodded. “Okay. I hear you. I mean, thank you for telling me.” He blew out a breath and sat on the edge of the bed. “I’m not sure what to do.”
“Neither am I. But can I ask you a question?”
“Haven’t you wished you could tell him? About us?”
“Of course I have. But he’s too perfect a Jedi, Padmé. He’d have to tell the Council, and then – I don’t know what would happen then.”
She hesitated, then nodded. “You’re probably right. I’m sorry.”
Anakin shook his head. “You have nothing to apologize for. It was an accident, and we can’t control who we feel desire for.” He took her hands in his and squeezed them for emphasis.
“I have to say, you’re taking this much better than I thought you would.”
With a shrug, Anakin said, “A week ago, I probably would’ve been jealous, hurt, confused. Now? We could both have a deadly haptovirus that will kill us in our sleep without us ever feeling it.” At her frown, he amended, “I mean, I know it’s not especially deadly to people our age, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that this crisis puts things in perspective. Compared to everything happening out there – the pandemic, the war – this seems… I don’t know. ‘Trivial’ makes it sound like what you’re feeling isn’t important, and that’s not true. But I guess I just recognize that there’s bigger things to worry about.”
Padmé smiled, caressing his cheek. “You’ve grown, Anakin. It makes me so happy.” She glanced mischievously in the direction of the rest of the apartment. “He’s been in bed for an hour, right? Do we still have to play the quiet game?”
“No. Do you want to?”
Anakin had not been lying when he’d told Padmé recent events had given him perspective, and he was surprisingly okay with her sudden sexual feelings for Obi-Wan. Sometimes, he thought, he could amaze even himself.
Then he spent the sixth day in quiet torture as she flushed a little every time she ran into Obi-Wan. When the three of them were in a room together, her gaze would wander over to him, then she would catch herself and look guiltily at Anakin. For his part, Anakin gave her brave smiles and played cavalier, but he was more than a little jealous and now very much frustrated with the situation. The apartment, which had seemed so spacious, now seemed incredibly cramped, with even the broad expanse of the balcony offering no relief.
Eight more days, he thought. We just have to get through eight more days.
He did not have the opportunity to spend any time with Padmé that night, because Obi-Wan was up late again, this time on a holocall with Dex. He worked out in the guest suite, angrily pushing himself until his muscles screamed, then rinsed off in the shower and collapsed into bed, hoping that the physical exhaustion would ease his transition into unconsciousness.
It did not. When Obi-Wan finally entered the room to go to sleep on the futon, Anakin was still awake, mind spinning, and desperate to sleep.
“Something bothering you?” Obi-Wan asked as he shucked his tunic and trousers in preparation for bedding down. “I can sense your agitation from here.”
Normally, Anakin was more circumspect. But he was tired, and sick at heart, and it had been a long, extremely difficult day. So when Obi-Wan asked that – so blasé, so superior – the answer just erupted out of Anakin without mediation from his brain. “Padmé wants you.”
Obi-Wan paused. “Ah. The other day. Yes, I thought it might be something like that.”
Anakin rolled over to stare accusatorily at him. “You’ve known?”
“Jedi are supposed to avoid attachment, Anakin. That does not mean we must be celibate. It is normal and healthy to indulge the libido from time to time.” Obi-Wan sat down on the futon, resting his chin on his entwined fingers. “I have had some experience, and know the signs.”
Sitting up in bed, Anakin leveled a finger at him. “But you haven’t said anything!”
“What am I supposed to say? ‘Terribly sorry you saw me naked the other day and now an irrational part of you wants to bed me?’ What would that solve?”
“I don’t know.” Anakin flopped back against the guest bed’s ample cushion. The next thing he said, he immediately regretted. It was nasty, and spiteful, and he didn’t actually mean it, but it felt good to say. “Maybe you should go knock on her door. Offer to help her work the problem out.”
“Anakin, jealousy does not become you.”
“Do I look like I give a damn what’s becoming?”
“No, I suppose you don’t. But I think Padmé would take exception if she knew what you just said to me.”
“How do you know?” Anakin sulked.
“Unless you discussed it beforehand, I don’t believe that proposition is traditional in most marriages,” Obi-Wan replied.
Anakin just stared at the ceiling for a long minute before he finally asked, “How long have you known?”
“Oh, I’ve known you two have had something between you since Geonosis. Rex is also an excellent soldier, but a poor liar. Not the best choice you could have made in terms of having someone cover for you while you’re calling her. But as for being married? I only deduced it because we’ve been stuck in this apartment together for the better part of a week now.”
“How?” Anakin asked.
“You’re not subtle. Also, Padmé is both a traditionalist and sentimental. In private, she wears a wedding band on the third finger of her left hand. She takes it off when she leaves her bedroom, but I observed the mark on her finger from it when she handed me that bowl of sweetcorn on the third night.” Obi-Wan shrugged. “In a way, I suppose this haptovirus has been – well, certainly not a blessing, but perhaps there’s a silver lining to it. Had I made this discovery a week ago, I think I should have reported you to the Council and berated myself for failing you so thoroughly as a Master. Now? I daresay my time here has given me perspective.”
Anakin felt as though a great and terrible weight had just been lifted from his chest, one he hadn’t even realized he’d been bearing. His lungs felt a hundred times bigger. The breath he took was the sweetest, most relieving one he could ever remember.
“Well,” he finally said. “Where do we go from here?”
“I’ll protect your secret. You’re my friend. It’s not what the Council would want me to do, but it is the right thing.”
“Thank you. But I more meant the fact that my wife is, frankly, incredibly thirsty for you, and we still have another eight days in here.”
“Ah. That.” Obi-Wan shrugged. “I have a thought, if you’re in a place to listen to it.”
“I’m all ears, Obi-Wan.”
Padmé normally prided herself on her composure, but they were a week into their quarantine and she was personally into her third day of being uncomfortably horny for Obi-Wan. The times were anything but normal.
Her work seemed to drag interminably. It was nearly impossible to focus on any of the holoconferences she was obliged to attend. At one point she stepped out of her office to use the ’fresher, bumped into Obi-Wan – who was going into the kitchen to make himself lunch – and felt herself blush so fiercely that she was absolutely certain her face was red as a Tatooine sunset. He must have been especially hungry or otherwise distracted, because he seemed to take no notice whatsoever.
That evening, Padmé planned to make a quick, easy dinner with what was left in the conservator before heading straight to bed. Secretly, she was dreading the possibility of Anakin paying her a visit. She wanted him, she loved him, but she knew that if they had sex right now she would be thinking of Obi-Wan, and that seemed like a betrayal.
She walked into the conversation room, separated from the kitchen only by a pass-through wall, and saw both Anakin and Obi-Wan in the kitchen, making some kind of salad. “I thought I told you two I’d handle it,” she said, not sure she was terribly excited as the prospect of eating food made by people who’d never had to cook a day in their lives. She was no professional, but she’d prepared food for her family enough times in her youth that compared to the two Jedi she was a positive master.
Anakin turned and grinned at her. “It’s taba salad,” he said. “It’s nothing but chopping. We’re Jedi, we’re good at chopping. And we’re using a recipe off the holonet for the dressing and everything. So sit down and watch something mindless. You work too much even at a time like this. Let us take care of you for a change.”
Padmé opened her mouth to object, then stopped dead when Obi-Wan also turned to look at her, an easy smile on his face and a glint in his eye. “Do as he says, please,” he told her. “I promise you won’t regret it.”
And just like that, Padmé found herself on the couch, watching something mindless. She wondered for a minute if that had been Force persuasion – Obi-Wan apparently was extremely good at it – but she rejected the idea. It was only supposed to work on the weak-minded, after all.
Then again, how strong-minded could she say she was, if she couldn’t dismiss these ridiculous feelings she was having about Anakin’s former master?
Moving in easy unison, the two Jedi seated themselves on either side of her, Obi-Wan actually scooting her toward the middle of the couch with a bump of the hip. She felt herself flush at the contact. Anakin handed her a plate with a passable-looking taba salad on it. “Enjoy,” he said. “It’s made with love.”
Padmé scoffed. “Seriously? ‘Made with love?’”
“I’m told it’s an important ingredient in cooking,” Obi-Wan said, already crunching his way through his salad.
He wasn’t wrong. It was just a silly thing to say, Padmé thought. And a dangerous one, given what they had to conceal from Obi-Wan.
The salad was more than passable, which was a pleasant surprise. After they were all done, Anakin collected their plates, then returned to his spot on the couch next to Padmé. “Let’s put something better than this on,” he said. “I hear there’s a new season of The Great Coruscant Bake-Off.”
Padmé laughed. “I didn’t know you watched that.”
“I think we’re all finding out a lot about each other during this quarantine,” Anakin replied.
They settled in to watch, and after a short while Padmé realized that Anakin had looped an arm around her shoulders, and had kept it there for a solid minute, and Obi-Wan had said nothing. She looked first at Anakin, then at Obi-Wan, both of whom seemed entirely engrossed in the glow of the holoprojector. A sense of unreality began to settle around her. Did Obi-Wan really not see what Anakin was doing? Did he not care?
Obi-Wan glanced at her. “Hm?”
Padmé averted her gaze. “Ah. It’s nothing.”
“It’s not nothing,” Obi-Wan said. “But I assure you it’s alright.”
“He knows, Padmé,” Anakin said. “About us. And he’s on our side.”
Padmé blinked. “You – you do?” she asked, turning to look at him.
“I do,” Obi-Wan confirmed.
“We got to talking, last night,” Anakin said. “We thought, maybe that secret isn’t the only thing we can share.” He ran a hand lightly along the line of her jaw, the familiar, intimate motion given startling new context by Obi-Wan’s presence less than two feet away. “If that’s something you would want.”
Padmé looked at Anakin, back at Obi-Wan, back to Anakin again. “You – you’re serious? Is this the conversation we’re having right now?”
“It is,” Anakin assured her. “I love you, and I want what will make you happiest.” He nodded at Obi-Wan. “And while he’ll never love you the way I do – he’s too good a Jedi for that – there are things he can do. If you’re interested.”
Padmé felt as though she were in free fall. Not necessarily an unpleasant sensation, just not one she had been expecting to have tonight. She gazed into Obi-Wan’s blue-grey eyes, seeing simultaneously great tenderness and more than a hint of danger. “I – I am,” she said. “But… I couldn’t just – I mean, Anakin –”
“Oh, we weren’t suggesting that you and I go and leave Anakin here,” Obi-Wan laughed. “We wouldn’t want you to have to make that decision.”
“Would you like us to show you what we had in mind?”
Padmé nodded, feeling her heartrate beginning to pick up. “Yes. Please.”
Obi-Wan ran his fingers along her cheek before moving his hand to the back of her head in a smooth, surprisingly confident motion and drawing her to him. She realized she’d never kissed a man with a beard before, and decided that she liked the novelty. He was as good with his tongue in this context as he was in his capacity as a negotiator, though she expected the proficiency he displayed here earned him less praise from the Jedi Council. Even as he kissed her, she felt Anakin’s hands roaming up and down her body, already beginning to gently work buttons free and loosen clasps. By the time Obi-Wan broke the kiss and stood, and Anakin lifted her from the couch and covered her mouth with his own, she was already mostly naked. When they got to her bedroom, she felt Obi-Wan’s deft fingers relieve her of the last items of her clothing. Then Anakin lowered her to the bed.
She had seen Anakin disrobe plenty of times, but there was something new and electric to the way he did it now. He and Obi-Wan looked at one another as they stripped, grinned, and both turned their eyes on Padmé. She took a long moment to fully appreciate Obi-Wan, now that the situation permitted it. Where Anakin was bulky and powerful, Obi-Wan was lean, his musculature less sculpted but no less impressive. He was hairier, too, something not fashionable on Naboo; consequently, she found it somewhat exotic, and even more enticing.
They both moved to the sides of the bed, each opposite the other. Obi-Wan ran a hand along her leg, lingering on her thigh, while Anakin’s touch grazed across her belly and teasingly over one of her nipples before coming to rest against the flesh of her throat. He leaned forward to kiss her again, and as he did, she felt Obi-Wan’s other hand coming to rest on her other thigh, and a gentle pressure there, an invitation. She acceded to it, opening herself to him, and while Anakin continued to kiss her, she felt Obi-Wan’s weight shift on the bed and the gentle tickle of his beard as he brought his head down between her legs.
The rest of the night she recalled as a series of lucid moments between great oceans of intensity and sensation. At one point she was on all fours, being taken from behind and from in front, the movements of her two lovers synchronized in a way that had to be more than coincidence. At another, Anakin held her aloft, her legs wrapped around his back while he thrust up into her, and Obi-Wan stood behind her, pinioning her to him with one arm, his other hand supporting her head while he bit at her neck and ears. He did it gently at first, then harder, in response to her half-gasped, half-whined imploring. Later, Padmé was atop Obi-Wan’s supine form, riding him slowly and deliberately, taking pleasure in his unrestrained gasps and grunts, while Anakin caressed her from behind, ministering to her throat and breasts with his hands and nails and teeth.
When they had all thoroughly exhausted themselves, they laid, panting, in a pile on Padmé’s oversized bed, each Jedi on one side of the Senator. She had never felt so warm, and safe, and thoroughly satisfied.
“So,” Anakin said after some time. “One week left.”
“Yes,” Obi-Wan agreed. “Indeed there is.”
“That’s a lot of time to fill,” Padmé said. “Do you think we’re going to be able to make it?”
She felt as well as heard Obi-Wan’s chuckle. “I daresay we’ll think of some way to keep ourselves entertained. For now, however, I am quite thoroughly exhausted. I believe I’ll say goodnight and head to bed.”
Padmé looked at him, frowned. “But you’re already in bed.”
“I meant my own bed. In the guest suite. I wouldn’t want to impose.”
Anakin shook his head. “I think we’re a little bit past that whole ‘not imposing’ thing at this point, Obi-Wan. Bed’s big enough for all of us.” He gestured to Obi-Wan’s left arm. “Besides, I’m tired too. Don’t want to have to look for the key.”
Obi-Wan glanced at his arm, which he seemed to genuinely have forgotten was still mag-cuffed to one of the bed’s four posts. “Oh. Right. Yes, that does seem like a bother right now. Well. I suppose I’ll just have to manage.”
Padmé smiled and shut her eyes, letting the two men make themselves comfortable on either side of her, already feeling the lure of sleep.
Even in times like these, she thought as she drifted off, there were silver linings.