Title: "The Ties That Bind"
Chapter 4/?
(1/2)
Written by: Shawn

Summary: With a deadly siege taking place at Theed Palace, Anakin is
in mortal danger while Padmé deals with the crisis, what he did to
her, and her mother's growing suspicions. An unexpected visitor
further complicates matters.

Category: Drama/Romance
Rated: M for all that it implies.
Ship: Anakin and Padmé Skywalker

Timeline: I've always believed the Clone Wars lasted about three and
a half years. This story takes place at the two and a half year mark.
So it's been two and a half years since PA were married. None of her
family know about the nuptials.

Disclaimer: GL owns everything.

Beta Read by: The Dark Lord of the pen, Master Anne *bows
respectfully*

Authors Notes 1: At the end of the day life is all about family.

Authors Notes 2: I'm no longer sure how many chapters it will take to
finish this story, but I doubt more than five. For now I shall leave
it as a question mark.

~~~~~~

"You can close your eyes to things you don't want to see, but you
can't close your heart to things you don't want to feel."
~~ unknown

"There's this place in me where your finger prints still rest... your
kisses still linger and your whispers softly echo... It's the place
where a part of you will forever be a part of me"
~~ unknown

"When you remember how hard it is to change yourself, you begin to
understand what little chance we have of changing others."
~~ unknown

~~~~~

Solleu River
A subterranean tunnel network beneath the capital city of Theed
Just after nightfall
Naboo

Qui-Gon's presence was surely with him this night.

Carefully navigating a razor sharp Norsa-corral reef, Anakin swam the
cold, dark waters beneath Theed City with the Force as his guide. The
small breathing apparatus held between his teeth was already
beginning to run low on air, only adding to the dangers of
transversing the extremely dangerous subterranean tunnels that seemed
endless in size.

Not to mention the massive sea creatures he'd heard so much about
from Obi-Wan upon his Master's first visit to Naboo. Only moments ago
he barely managed to escape a wild horned beast three times larger
than his Jedi star fighter by entering a narrow crevice the beast
couldn't follow after him into.

The shadowy underwater depths wrecked havoc with his eyes as he
sought the secret emergency escape tunnel Qui-Gon and Obi Wan used to
sneak into the city over a decade ago. Many of the tunnels were
collapsed for security purposes, but two remained just in case the
Queen needed to be whisked away suddenly for her protection. Even if
they had been rerouted he'd still have a way into the city and
hopefully as close to the Palace as possible.

The sooner he secured Queen Jamilla and ended the siege he'd be able
to get back to Padmé and pray she wouldn't murder him on sight. Over
dramatic for certain, but her immense anger with him... the
borderline rage... he could feel it from her even hundreds of miles
away.

Brushing aside that fact for the time being, he focused on the task
at hand as the small alcove he sought was just over a vast rocky
horizon.

Anakin sincerely hoped upon arriving at the cave he'd find the Queen
with a contingent of Royal Naboo soldiers guarding her. Then he'd
attend to the attack force and be done with the entire situation. His
assessment thus far offered no such luck as there were no underwater
vessels of any kind anywhere in the vicinity.

Swimming behind a mammoth lavender sea plant, he reached out with the
Force in hopes of sensing any of the attack force nearby. Nothing,
which only added to his worry. The Queen and her cabinet must still
be in Theed Palace while the attack force was able to invade without
using the tunnels, a fact that shouldn't be impossible considering
the advanced new security protocols implemented by Theed Palace since
the Separatist's occupation years ago. Security protocols the Jedi
themselves aided Naboo authorities in designing.

All alone except for the vivid sea life thriving around him, Anakin
made his way into the small alcove, carefully swimming away from the
sharp jagged rocks surrounding him. Upon finally cresting the surface
inside the escape routes cave dwelling- he found it empty and dark.
Not only was it vacant of light, but it didn't appear to have been
used in many years or even up kept in case of emergency.

Pulling himself out of the cold waters, moss and corrosion minus any
sort of footprints ended any speculation that the attackers used the
tunnel system to invade Theed Palace.

Before diving into Solleu River to reach the city and get close to
Theed Palace undetected, Anakin listened to the HoloNet's updates on
the siege. Apparently a number of armed gunmen and rebuilt Separatist
Battle Droids were attacking the palace for some unknown reason.
Video footage of the fighting showed the battle was now taking place
within Theed Palace itself as residents who lived nearby ran for
their lives.

While wishing that he were wrong, Anakin felt there was too much of a
coincidence that the attack occurred the day after Padmé arrived. Her
schedule for security purposes was never divulged to the public, but
most Senators stayed at Theed Palace upon visiting Naboo. While it
was easy to assume Senator Amidala would visit her family the
perception was that she would stay at the Palace.

In the realm of the galaxy Senator Amidala was far more important and
a far greater political figure than even the Queen herself. From what
was known about the criminal element of Naboo's underworld space
pirates, smugglers or those opposing the Queen and her government
wouldn't be capable of standing up to Theed Palace's new security
force. Off-world attackers... that was another story. All in all
Anakin felt this attack concerned his wife in some way. And as
headstrong and courageous as she is he simply could not put her in
harms way.

She still didn't seem to grasp, even after all this time that if she
died she would take him with her. And whatever was left would be too
horrible... too broken and lost to imagine.

That theory, as well as the very real and powerful ripple in the
Force Anakin felt the moment news broke of the attack left him facing
his gravest fear. Any threat to Padmé had to be destroyed, and though
she might hate him now she was safe with her family while he handled
those who might wish harm on her.

Nothing... not even the Force itself would protect them from him.

Running over the gravel surface of the seemingly endless winding
caverns, Anakin leapt across a misty bottomless gorge, landing
without missing a beat at his top speed. He instinctively navigated
the harsh terrain towards a clearing up ahead that led just below
Guido's Tower, one of the oldest buildings in Theed and very close to
the Palace.

Another great leap saw him land on a rocky ledge overlooking a
massive Zera-parasteel vault door. Only three people on all of Naboo
at any time could open it and unfortunately he wasn't one of them.
But those who built this monstrosity of a security door never counted
on the Chosen One seeking those who may want to hurt his angel. And
so they never counted on a Force user, with nearly no equal in all
the galaxy, manipulating that mystical energy to open the door vault
from the outside.

Slowly the cylinder vault door rolled sideways, straining in that it
hadn't moved in years, granting him entrance to a dimply lit hallway.
Some light was better than no light at all, although the moist
humidity was agonizing. Not to mention his clothes were soaking wet.
Up ahead, massive stone stairs led to a meager passageway that
connected the basement storage area of Guido's Tower with the sole
escape route from below Theed Palace. Again, he found no activity
whatsoever, nor did he sense the presence of anyone.

But as he crept closer to the secret entrance to Theed Palace's lower
floor he felt death, danger, and violence all around him. Upon
reaching what seemed to be a wide granite wall, he used the Force to
sense for where the escape door indent was and where to press his
hand. As soon as the wall fell inward shifted sideways he heard the
sounds of laser fire and shouting from above.

The urge to rush into battle had finally been tamed, albeit to some
degree by Obi-Wan. Patience would be his ally here as Anakin crept up
two long flights of stairs amidst the sounds of a large scale battle
taking place in the ceremonial halls. He hugged the wall toward a
corner where two armed men in black clothing barring an insignia he
didn't recognize secured the area, standing guard.

Using the Force, Anakin shoved one of the men forward so hard his
entire body impacted into the wall with a sickening thud, knocking
him unconscious immediately. The second man quickly raised his
blaster, firing three shots in rapid succession. The whirl of
Anakin's lightsaber deflected all three shots with ease. He advanced
faster than the man could shoot, grabbing him by the throat and
dragging him quietly away behind a massive stone pillar.

"Who is the target of this assault!" Anakin questioned face-to-face
with the soldier. The bald man was unshaven, barring a face marred
with scars. He shook his head in fear, having not expected to meet
the Chosen One in battle this day. "We can do this the easy way or
the hard way. Your choice."

"We... we're to assassinate both the Queen and Senator Amidala," he
began his tale in a voice thick with fear as the hard hand clasped
tight around his throat began to squeeze ever tighter.

Anakin seized upon the soldier's fear of him. He used it to his
advantage. "Who is your leader? Who arranged this attack? And how did
you get past the Palace's security?"

From over the Jedi's shoulder the soldier saw one of his men slowly
approach, his weapon trained high on Anakin's head. The rising smirk
he wore was short lived as the Jedi shifted his body slightly while
raising his gloved palm towards the bolts of laser fire directed at
him. They bounced aside as if they were nothing. The Jedi inverted
his wrist and the blaster flew from the other soldier's hand into
his.

Anakin eyes bored into him. "We would be honored if you would join
us."

A moment later both soldiers were braced against the wall with a
lightsaber inches from their throats.

"Start talking," Anakin ordered them while reaching out with the
Force to sense any more newcomers. He found none as the battle above
was still raging on.

The burly older soldier spoke first, dread easily recognizable in the
expression he wore. "Someone recruited the Draconian Horsemen," he
pointed to the grey insignia on his dark armored vest. "For a special
job with a huge payoff. The person who hired us communicated with us
through holo-projector disks left for us on the moons of Borgora-5.
We never knew who it was and didn't care. The person who hired us
provided us with schematics of a section of the far west wall of
Theed Palace currently under reconstruction. The security protocols
for that section weren't in place yet. We were told if we attacked
there we would catch the palace security teams off guard and be able
to hold an entire floor of the Palace before they would be in place
to stop us. We were provided the best equipment and blasters money
could by and a couple of reconditioned battle droids. We were also
paid half a million credits up front with the promise of a million
and a half more once the Queen and Senator Amidala were dead."

Fiery anger tore through Anakin as he had hoped assassination
attempts against his wife were over. But obviously they must never
let their guard down. He ached to be home more to protect her
himself, and now he hated the war even more than he had before. His
failure to end Count Dooku's life the first time he faced him had now
manifested itself again as his greatest failure. "Have your forces
reached the Queen?"

"Not yet," the younger of the two men replied, shaking mightily. "The
Queen's royal guards are putting up a fight on the top floors of the
palace. They have barricaded themselves inside the throne room. Our
forces are setting charges now to detonate the massive doors and..."

Both were silenced instantly when Anakin caused them to faint. He had
no time to waste; he raced up the towering steps past the dead bodies
of Palace servants, guards and Draconian Horseman to a wide-set
window. He then climbed outside it and balanced on a narrow ledge,
peering upward. It was just as he had hoped, the Royal Library was
directly above him. He had no time to waste as an explosion could
take place at any time, and the Queen would be dead. Leaping some
fifteen feet into the air, he grasped onto the window's bottom ledge,
pulling himself up, and upon looking inside crashed his body through
the glass, shattering it everywhere while surprising the five
soldiers inside.

What took place next could only be described as a massacre. The five
soldiers were simply no match for the Chosen One as he beheaded one
of them before getting off a single shot. Deflecting the laser blasts
of two soldiers killed another. He forward somersaulted over their
heads, slashing through their midsections upon landing. The lone
soldier left attempted to run, but Anakin used the Force to shut the
doors.

"Do not lie to me as your life hangs in the balance," Anakin warned,
his lightsaber aimed at the trembling solider. "Who is detonating the
explosive?"

"There... there seems to be some disagreement amongst our two
commanders as to if we should kill the Queen or take her hostage.
I... I don't know what they will do. And our escape shuttle hasn't
arrived yet either. Something's amiss."

The soldier's body dropped at Anakin's feet, passed out via the
Force. The sound of metal grating over the luxurious Acronian
flooring outside the library meant battle droids were close. And they
would be far harder to defeat than the soldiers thus far.

Taking a few steps back, Anakin Force-blasted both doors off its
hinges, sending them flying across the expansive hallway. It drew the
quick attention of three battle droids who all aimed their weapons at
the noise.

Rushing in, Anakin rammed his lightsaber into the fuel cell of one
battle droid, but was hammered when it back-handed him into a stone
pillar. He looked up as the damaged battle droids fuel cell ignited,
exploding the battle droid and the one closest to it apart. The
remaining droid bent into its rolling form, accelerating towards him
at a breakneck speed.

Although his lower back was now killing him, Anakin leapt over the
droid while slashing it in mid-air. When he landed the droid spun out
of control, smashing into a royal tapestry on the wall, now setting
it on fire. Thankfully the sprinklers were set off.

Sounds of running footsteps could be heard coming from two separate
directions. Anakin ducked behind the smoking remains of the first two
battle droids as a small group of solders entered the hall. The scent
of fear and death hung in the air around him. Igniting his lightsaber
once more, he tossed it high and fast at a construction scaffold
above the men. The blade cut through two support beams, causing the
scaffold to roll onto its side and then fall, killing all but three
of the soldiers.

With their weapons trained high, the survivors scanned the entire
area for who had attacked them, only to find simultaneously at the
end of the hall stood the Hero Without Fear. Anakin Skywalker
himself. All around him were dead bodies of their fellow soldiers and
battle droid parts. They instantly knew even minus his lightsaber
they had no chance at all.

"We surrender!" was chanted in unison.

Calling his lightsaber back to his hand, Anakin walked past
them. "Leave your weapons and run like your life depends on it. Trust
me, it does."

Stealth had no place here as the battle had drawn the attention of
the main attack force in the upper floors. The sounds of laser fire
had slowed considerably, leaving Anakin to believe that the security
forces outside the throne room had been killed. Anakin rounded a
sharp corner, then dove to the floor as a hail of laser fire flew
above his head. Not for the first time he wished Ben were here. He'd
of have made a joke or something. Alas, this was no joking matter.

Rolling across the floor as blasts rattled windows, showering him
with small shards of glass, Anakin saw nine armed soldiers advancing
on him fast. He Force-shoved two off their feet, then Force-pulled a
rug from beneath the rest of their feet, effectively knocking them to
the ground.

They weren't the leaders, and so they were expendable. Lost in the
chaos and blood rage of battle, Anakin became death itself,
dismembering them two at a time, moving so fast and with such power
that not one was even able to fire off a second shot. When it was
done bloody limbs littered the floor as the most dangerous Jedi in
the galaxy sought those who wanted his wife dead.

Swarms of laser fire were deflected, but even Anakin could not stop
them all, He howled in pain as two bit hot into his right shoulder,
slamming him into the ground. Red pooled moist beneath his shirt,
flowing freely. Rolling over, he regained his footing quickly,
pushing aside the intense pain as he launched himself skyward,
landing atop another scaffold and then behind two battle droids and
five more soldiers.

Close combat worked to his advantage as he quickly dispatched all
five soldiers and was even aided when an errant laser blast by one of
the battle droids destroyed the other. Despite the searing pain in
his shoulder and bicep, he let the Force guide his movements,
slashing off both the droid's blasters and then slamming the blade
into its chest.

He ran now, lost in that darker edge of the Force he rarely called
upon, killing anything brandishing a weapon as the murdered bodies of
Palace security guards and staff were spread about all over the hall.
This attack was nothing less than a tragedy as he lost count of the
dead after thirty.

Coming upon the throne room, he found several more heavily armed
solders, two of which wore clothing with different insignia's than
the rest. Perhaps they were the leaders. "You have two options here!"
he shouted out to them. "You can die fighting me, or hope you don't
die if I don't like what you have to tell me about who is truly
behind this attack."

Without the escape shuttle they were promised would be here already,
Commander Doth grazed his hand over his grey beard, fearing all was
lost and that they were had from the start. "It is over, Jedi. I do
not wish to die a pawn. I will tell you all that I know."

Moments later the throne room doors were opened as the Queen's royal
guards poured out and secured the remaining soldiers.

"Knight Skywalker, it is an honor to see you again," Queen Jamilla
offered quickly as she shook his hand. Her eyes scanned past him at
the carnage of todays events. Nonetheless she remained strong. "Thank
you for saving us. I was not aware you were on Naboo, but thank
goodness you were. Are you in need of any assistance?" She saw the
way he favored the right side of his body. "A medic perhaps?"

"Yes, milady. A medic would be helpful." Wincing, the pain was
considerable to say the least, but he wasn't going to die from it. "I
would appreciate a full report from your authorities when they are
done questioning the men. I'm staying at Varykino with Senator
Amidala and her family. One of the guards already confessed that both
you and the Senator were the targets."

"Was this an assassination attempt or were they trying to kidnap us?"
the Queen asked.

"At the beginning I believe this was a straight assassination plot.
But it appears there was some disagreement among the attackers'
leaders over wanting to capture you instead. The time bought by their
bickering probably saved your life."

The Queen nodded, aware of the ever growing danger that even a
paradise like Naboo could ignore no longer. "That and you, Knight
Skywalker. I am sincerely in your debt."

Bowing respectfully, Anakin turned away. "Excuse me, your highness. I
would like to interrogate the leaders myself before handing them over
to your people. I believe I might be able to... ensure they tell us
everything they know."

Queen Jamilla was more than a little pleased she wasn't in their
shoes. "As you wish. And if time permits I would appreciate if you
gave my security team a few pointers and ideas on how to better
secure the Palace from future attack. I never, ever want to see this
happen again."

"As you wish, milady. I shall see to it before I depart Naboo."

"Thank you again, Knight Skywalker."

Walking away, Anakin felt disheartened and angry as even outside the
war he found only death and heartbreak stalking him. Not to mention
he was bleeding and hurt and even his beloved Angel... for now he
would perform his duty.

Soon enough Padmé would be his judge, jury, and executioner.

******

******

"Varykino"
One of the Nabberie family home located in Lake Country Retreat
The main family sitting room, 3rd floor
After nightfall
Naboo

"Ladies and gentleman, the great siege on Theed Palace is over thanks
to the heroics of the Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker."

Jubilant applause and hugging illuminated the Naberrie family and
Varykino's small staff who were huddled together in the family rooom
watching the live HoloNet reports on today's horrible attack. What
began as a day like any other quickly evolved into panic and chaos by
afternoon when news spread of the violent attack at the palace. Only
moments ago did the Queen herself make a brief, but powerfully
poignant public statement on her unwavering determination to bring
those responsible to justice while ensuring nothing like this ever
happen again.

While overjoyed that the siege was at an end, Padmé stood alone in
the back of the room behind the others, her arms crossed her chest,
her face a mask of outraged emotion. She hadn't uttered a single word
to anyone since the family gathered to watch the crisis unfold,
choosing to keep her thoughts to herself.

Unbeknown to Padmé, Jobal's careful appraisal found her reaction to
today's events far more interesting than the HoloNet's broadcast.

"Details are sketchy at best thus far, but here's what we know," said
the graying elder statesman of reporters from the Naboo branch of the
HoloNet. Standing in front of Theed Palace, he motioned towards the
far west corner where the new renovations were being worked on. "This
afternoon a heavily armed force of over fifty men, and an
undetermined number of battle droids, were able to enter Theed Palace
undetected via the construction site and began the siege that would
leave by early reports some thirty-three Royal Naboo Guards and
Palace staff members dead."

While slowly shaking his head in disgust, Ruwee's heart went out to
the family and friends of those slain. "By the Force, such a horrible
occurrence. This day will live in infamy."

The reporter continued as the video footage showed the massive crowds
gathering around the Palace to pay their respects. "Advanced security
protocols should have prevented any firing of a laser blaster within
Theed Palace's walls that wasn't owned by a Palace guard or officer.
Alas, that was not the case today as the soldiers were well inside
the Palace before their attack began and were able to catch the
security forces off guard. At this time it is believed that the
objective of the attack was to assassinate Queen Jamilla."

Darred hugged his wife closer, sighing. Thankfully his children were
asleep. They didn't need to see this until he and Sola could explain
it to them in a way they might understand. That alone would be an
incredible undertaking as he himself didn't understand. "Just look at
all the bodies they are bringing
out." Sola rested her head on his shoulder, shutting her eyes briefly
to the tragedy.

Feeling helpless was the worst thing in all the galaxy to Padmé, but
that was exactly how she felt at the moment. Helpless... and
betrayed. Utterly betrayed. Pushing aside her immense frustration,
her heart went out to those who lost their lives and those left
behind. Family members and friends of the deceased are now being
contacted with the worst news anyone could ever hope to receive. If
there were any fear she understood acutely, if was one of loving
someone performing a dangerous duty that required them to carry a
weapon. One never knew when the dreaded news would come.

And what of the innocent men and women of the palace staff?

They certainly never expected to die this day.

Such a tragedy struck at the heart of Naboo in attacking the Queen in
Theed. It was probably the worst attack since the Separatists
occupation over a decade ago when she served that role. Nonetheless,
contrary to the paradise people normally associated when thinking of
Naboo its people were strong, resilient, and united.

Although Padmé knew the people would survive this trial as they had
all others her fist clenched unconsciously, anger growling hot within
her belly. Perhaps Anakin was right after all in worrying that this
attack may concern her in some way, although his actions spoke of
such a lack of respect for her she felt sick with anxiety. She hurt
for the dead. She hurt for the people of Naboo who now feared their
best couldn't even protect the Queen. She hated those who perpetrated
this cowardly attack, wondering if they had any idea how many lives
they'd ruined of if they cared at all.

She was dying inside to learn if Anakin were alright.

Then she wanted to tear him apart herself.

"For reasons unknown at this time, Anakin Skywalker was on Naboo.
Thankfully he heard of the siege at the palace and immediately set
out for Theed City. Reports are that he successfully fought his way
from the lower levels of the Palace to the throne room itself,
removing any threat in his path with deadly efficiency. Solidifying
his legend as 'The Hero Without Fear', his skills so over matched the
attackers that their leaders gave up and are now in custody being
interrogated by Anakin himself and Naboo authorities. "

As wonderful as the news was that the siege had ended, Jobal did not
at all like how Padmé was taking this. She endured the same worry and
fear as the family and staff, but in her daughter she sensed so much
more was on her mind. Or perhaps so much more was alive within in her
heart. A mother knows her child best, always, and she couldn't shake
the feeling that Padmé's dealing with more than the ramifications of
the siege and worrying about Anakin's safety. She was sure the latter
meant a great deal to her, but there was more taking place.

Padmé, for the first time in so long Jobal had to consider if ever,
appeared bitter.

"Anakin Skywalker suffered multiple injuries during the attack. We
are not aware of the exact severity or type at this time, but early
reports are they appear to be non-life threatening. He is being
attended to by a medic and then will begin his interrogations
shortly."

Sparing a sidelong glance, Jobal contemplated Padmé's tense demeanor
as she appeared to whisper a silent prayer to herself. Relief flooded
her lovely face for an instant until the bitterness returned. Such an
emotion she wasn't used to seeing in her youngest child. No, a woman
now. Perhaps more so than she had ever given her credit for.

Walking over to Padmé, Jobal looped an affectionate arm around her
daughter's, and found a small smile awaiting her. It was a start. "I
told you he would be alright."

Her mother didn't know how badly she wished she could hear that every
night of her life, and not just when it was believed she worried over
this isolated incident. Again, her practiced mask of being a good
friend fell into play. She was becoming quite the actress. Or was the
better term, liar? "Anakin is amazingly talented, efficient, and
brave," she began.

Jobal wished to parlay that into adding 'and quite handsome' to gauge
her daughter's initial reaction, but thought best not to pry too
fast. Her cautious assumptions were evidenced by the way she spoke of
Anakin today while they were out earlier with Sola, and how easy
Padmé's laughter came. How dear her depth of caring extended toward
the Jedi Knight.

Did she know how truly happy she sounded, or how foreign such a sound
was to her own mother where she was concerned? Jobal captured her
daughter's
gaze. "Dear, we are all heart-sick over today's tragedy, but what
troubles you so?" Softly caressing Padmé's cheek, she added in a
private tone, "I held you in my belly away from all prying eyes and I
would hold anything you told me with the same conviction."

And there it was. An opening to spill her heart out to her mother and
end this charade she now struggled to rationalize in her own mind.
But Anakin's actions today tore at her in such a way that she felt
mute to anything but her anger towards him. "Mom, I assure you I am
fine. It's been... it's been a long day and I am worried about the
people's reaction to this attack, the loved ones of those lost, and
Anakin."

"But there's more."

Padmé recognized Jobal's statement rather than it being a
question. "Mother..."

"I am no fool, Padmé," she warned to a degree. "I worry about you and
Anakin." Momentarily her daughter's eyes widened and that small crack
in her vaunted armor revealed such a ground swell of emotion it shook
Jobal to the core. Mercy, her daughter loved this man... what they
shared must be painfully private and unresolved as they weren't
permitted to allow it air to breathe.

So much instantly made sense to Jobal. Her daughter's utter
disinterest in dating... how she spoke of love when no one ever saw
her experience it... how closely Anakin moved in and around her
personal space, shadowing her as she did him.

Padmé's quiet only emphasized how unprepared she was to speak of what
troubled her so. But in time she would, and when she was ready her
mother would be waiting. Until then despite her daughter being so
successful, intelligent, and grown Jobal pressed a kiss to her temple
no different than she had when Padmé were a child. "I am here, my
love. For you, always."

Saying no more her mother left her behind away, joining her father's
side. Padmé longed to call out to her, but held her peace. Not
trusting herself at the moment she took her leave of the family room,
only to hear footsteps following close behind. She never broke
stride. "Mother, please."

"Are we so distant these days that you cannot even tell when your
sister is following you?"

Despite Sola's annoyed assertion, Padmé marched inside her bedroom
while listening to the footsteps approach. Dammit, she didn't need
this right now. She needed to be alone. "Sola, please. Not now."

"No!" Shutting the door behind her, Sola held her ground, feeling as
though this talk was a long time coming. What had at first been a
source of great amusement and interest to her now pained her deeply.
The sisterhood they shared felt fractured somehow. She sought to
remedy that. "Do you remember my second standard year at university?
Specifically just before the Harvest Moon?"

Weary and broken hearted, Padmé sat at the edge of her bed, and then
felt it dip as her sister sat beside her. She was taken back to such
a young age when she barely understood why bad things happened, only
that she needed to try and stop them. "I could never forget that day,
Sola. And I never told anyone what happened."

"And I knew that you wouldn't," Sola declared. "I was so ashamed to
have given myself to a man whom I thought truly loved me, only to
discover his cowardice and lack of character when I was suddenly with
child. Then I suffered through the miscarriage alone because I was
too ashamed of what I had done. I told no one but you because you are
my dearest friend and sister. I knew with you I would never be judged
or made to feel like I wasn't a good person for being less than
perfect. And even though you were young it meant the world to have
your support."

It wasn't hard to see where Sola was going with this. Padmé swallowed
her anger as she reminded herself of what they shared. "I will be
honored for the rest of my life over the faith and trust you placed
in me."

"And yet you refuse to offer me, of all people, the same." With her
hands in her lap, Sola peered away. "You will never know how badly
that hurts me."

"Sola," Padmé called out and then found her voice vacant of sound.
How do you explain the unexplainable? Her life with Anakin was as
insane as it was the most incredible, satisfying, fulfilling part of
her entire life ever. Burying her face in her hands, her voice
strained sadly. "You don't understand."

"Help me to understand," Sola pleaded with her sister, and when Padmé
began to cry she gathered her in her arms and simply held her, asking
no more questions. She offered unconditional love, the hallmark of
sisterhood, and her unwavering support to whatever was causing her
sister such grief.

The courage..., no, the sheer need to unburden her weary soul erupted
at long last. Lifting her gaze, the tears fell in moist trails down
her cheeks. The soft touch of Sola's hand gently wiped them away no
different than she did when she were a child. "Just before the Clone
Wars began Anakin and I fell in love."

She was opening up at last. Sola praised the Force. "That long? It
wasn't just a simple attraction or something recent?"

Shaking her head, Padmé exhaled a deeply held breath. It felt like
she had been holding it for years. "When he was assigned as my
protector we bonded in a way I never have with a man before. We're so
different and yet what we share is the most special thing either of
us has ever felt before. And I fought it," she acknowledged, nodding
to her sister with tears in her eyes. "I fought loving him so hard;
you just don't know. But the more I fought it the harder I fell. And
then his mother died and some part of me became a part of him. Then
came the battle of Geonosis when we thought were we going to die.
Right before we were to be executed I finally admitted that I loved
him."

Clearly shaken that her sister has held this inside for so long, Sola
held her hand and smiled that she had found someone to love. "He
clearly loves you as well. I've seen the way he looks at you. It is
as if you are all the stars in the sky at once to him."

Closing her eyes she could feel the warmth of his love, even as the
cold she felt fought to shut it out. "I know that he loves me, but
he's done something I may not be able to forgive."

"What has he done?"

Sighing, Padmé gently wiped her face with the back of her hand, the
moisture cascading down her palm. "There's more for you to know
before we get into that," she said, squeezing her sister's
hand. "After Geonosis as you know Anakin lost half his arm dueling
Count Dooku. War was declared two days later. We felt like we were
caught in a whirlwind of events we had no control over that seemingly
controlled our lives. I had fought so hard against the creation of a
clone army while he served the Jedi Order despite its mandate that he
refrain from romantic attachments. "

Padmé continued, "The war was going to see millions of new clones
created with the Jedi leading them into battle. We averted no
creation of the army, nor the war, and were about to be separated for
who knows how long with no guarantee he was even going to come back
alive. And then there was the ever present danger that surrounds me
due to my public stature and anti-Palpatine political views."

Sola listened, resting her head on her sister's shoulder.

"Nothing felt within our grasp. Not our lives or our careers. But we
could do one thing for us, selfishly taken because we felt we
deserved it. We needed something to hold onto. To bind us so that we
never forgot no matter how crazy things were around us the truth of
our lives was that we loved each other endlessly."

"What did you do, Padmé?"

Turning her face so that it rested against her sister's, Padmé
revealed her greatest secret. "When he escorted me back to Naboo we
were married
secretly." Sola's sharp gasp was almost funny as it clearly exposed
how truly shocked she was. For a time she didn't even blink. "My true
name is Padmé Amidala Naberrie Skywalker," she smiled behind her
tears. "No one knows this except Dormé and Captain Typho. I just
don't think the droids count, but they do as well."

"Padmé, that was almost three years ago," Sola heard herself say as
if it were a dream. "Why did you keep this a secret from the family
for so long?"

"Because of the scandal the news would bring if it ever got out,"
Padmé replied. "Anakin is forbidden by the Jedi Code to enter into
romantic relationships. Publicly my marriage would bring shame and
ridicule to Naboo's representative in the Senate, and our family as
well. I could be removed from my post, and Anakin would be expelled
from the Order."

"But your family would have kept your secret. No one would ever have
said a word."

Truthfully, Padmé knew that. But deep down she still worried. A
constant ache that was years old now. "The less people who knew, the
better. We had hoped that the war wouldn't last long, and then we
would sit down and discuss if we wanted to leave everything behind.
But Sola, Anakin is the Chosen One. He has a destiny to fulfill of
great importance, and I have a job to do. One that becomes tougher
each day corruption erodes the Republic, and trust me, it is
happening as we speak. I feel in someway I was a part of the problem
by not fighting hard enough. I intend to be part of the solution."

"At the expense of your own happiness."

"For now, yes."

"But the war..." Again, Sola watched as Padmé's emotional defenses
fell and she began to sob in her arms. Her husband was off fighting a
savage war all across the galaxy. What horrible thoughts she must go
to bed with every night.

"I see him so rarely, Sola. It pains him to see me cry when he leaves
and try as I might not too, my feelings fail me. We are hopelessly
lonely for each other and aren't even allowed the ability to stay in
communication contact on a regular basis. The time we are able to
steal together is brief and hidden, as if our love is some foul thing
to be kept in the shadows. It hurts so badly sometimes I can barely
breathe."

The urge to insist her sister walk away clashed with her knowledge
that her sister never left a goal unfinished. She wanted to be there
when this war needed as she felt it began on her watch. She held the
fate of the galaxy on her shoulders, no matter if it belonged there
or not. No, she would not walk
away. She would fight until the bitter end because that is who she
was.

Someone had to fight for those who couldn't fight for themselves.
Padmé championed that cause ever since she was a child.

"Thank you for confiding in me," Sola whispered to her sister, now
crying softly herself. "I love you, and I love Anakin. I will do
whatever you wish. If you want me to keep this secret I will die with
it in my heart. Not even the afterlife will know."

Something of a small laugh bubbled out of Padmé A sensation she
sorely needed. "Are you waxing poetic in your old age?"

"Dear sister, I am barely eleven standard years your senior. I'm in
my prime to say the least. Just ask Darred." Mightily appalled at her
amorous claim, Padmé laughed again as the mood lightened. A
sisterhood was reclaimed.

"Never say those words to me again, alright?"

"Fine."

Padmé thanked her with a strong hug. "There's more to tell, but
that's the bulk of my secrets."

"Then what has Anakin done recently to anger you so?"

"It's what he did today."

******

Go to part 2