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A CHANGING OF THE GUARD.

Part 1:

"But perhaps someone you are familiar with, an old friend, like Master Kenobi."

At the mention of him, back in the executive office some time ago, Padmé felt her resistance fade, as her mind became filled with memories ten years old. It was not until after the death of Master Jinn that she had come to know his apprentice beyond moments of exchanging silent glances between each other. On Coruscant, at the docking platform when they parted from the Jedi to make ready to appear before the Senate. On Naboo, when they were discussing the best strategy of how to take back her homeworld and her people from the blockade of the Trade Federation. Despite the facade of Jedi serenity, she had seen his concern for her and her people, his master and his desire to help, regardless of the political mess the involvement would cause.

After the death of Master Jinn, their acquaintance deepened into a friendship that had been disrupted by his departure after Naboo had celebrated a new treaty with the Gungans. They had made the promise to keep in touch, but their responsibilities forced them to break that vow frequently. Her two terms as Queen had left her little time for friendship and he had been kept busy training Anakin. Briefly, Padmé recalled to her mind her recollections of the boy Master Jinn had freed on Tatooine. His mannerisms back then reminded her of her young nieces now. His compassion and desire to help had caused him to destroy the Trade Federation ship which controlled the blockade shield, rendering the leaders down on Naboo hostage to her sovereignty. She wondered how much of those qualities remained in him, unaffected by the passage of a decade and jedi training.

One moment suddenly came to her mind; when he declared that he would marry her someday. It had been a vow made in the voice of a child with all of a child's blind innocence and optimism, yet the eloquence and the serenity contained therein, held all the qualities of an adult. She shivered, as if from a sudden chill. Ten years had done nothing to assuage the power of the oath from her mind, nor how much it still terrified her. Not because she did not desire to be married someday, but because the promise had felt prophetic, as if she could not escape from the prospect, even if she wanted to.

Now she would face him again, for Anakin was still Obi-Wan's apprentice. She knew that from the meeting in Chancellor Palpatine's office after the Senate session. After the Jedi had left, her former senator mentioned it to her. It was a comment made seemingly in passing, just as though he was informing her that despite Master Windu's words, it would be not one Jedi guarding her, but two. Yet Padmé could not help but feel that he had spoken deliberately, in order to observe her reaction. She had taken the utmost care not to give him that satisfaction, even though she knew it would be difficult not to let some part of her feelings betray her composure, for Palpatine was quite intuitive, it was one of the qualities which made him such a successful politician. Sometimes she wondered if he was force-sensitive, although if he was, the Order would have recruited him, for Naboo was a member of the Republic and thus well known to the Jedi, unlike Tatooine.

After exiting the executive office and escaping the intuitive gaze of her former senator, Padmé had returned to her apartment in Coruscant's diplomatic district to await the arrival of Master Kenobi and his apprentice. Her closest attendant, decoy and friend Dormé had been waiting for her, taking care to inform her and Captain Typho upon their arrival that she had arranged for everything regarding the care of their friend Cordé's remains to return to Naboo. All that was required was her consent and everything could be set in motion.
Padmé had agreed and then retired to her comm alcove in order to speak with Cordé's family in relative privacy. The news of her decoy's assassination had already been delivered to them by Nubian officials. Although it would have been something she would have wished to do herself, the security protocols dedicated that such a task was under the purview of others, a protection for herself and for the family, so their anguish could be freely expressed without the futility and blame heaped unnecessarily on those in authority who were not responsible, however much they may accord themselves some measure of blame. Time was given to allow that anguish to fade before Padmé was permitted to offer her condolences.

As she spent some time talking with them, Padmé could not help but feel responsible for the death of her friend. In all her years as Queen, even under the blockade of the Trade Federation, she had never lost a decoy. Now barely into her first term as Senator one trip back to the capital for a vote which she probably could have sent over the comm, had caused such a life to be lost, along with the pilots of the ship and those security detailed to add to the deception they ran to protect her. She remembered the conversation she had with Captain Typho and his uncle, Panaka, her former security chief whilst she was Queen, back on Naboo in her offices at the Palace, regarding what security measures they should take on her return, in light of the threats to her life. At the time the use of a decoy had seemed like the best solution, although she had not been given much say in the matter beyond a final cursory consent to the plan, for they were responsible for her security, not her. Now she wished hopelessly for a time machine and the foresight of another solution, one that would not cost the lives she mourned.

It was twilight by the time she had finished all her comms to Naboo, informing the Palace, speaking to the Queen and then messages to her parents and her sister. She was relieved they were not able to answer her, for though she was quite close to her family, their concern would be coloured by their wishes that she retired from politics altogether, returned to Naboo, settled down, married and have children. Such desires had already been put to her before she returned to Coruscant, and in light of the recent attempt on her life, her family would doubtless increase their efforts to persuade her to surrender to them. While she could not deny that she wanted a family, she did not want one at the cost of her desire to serve her people. Others managed it, why should she be the exception?

Jar Jar entered the main living area to inform her of the arrival of the Jedi. She left the balcony from where she had been pretending to gaze at the view while she dwelt on all the turmoil in her mind caused by the assassination attempt, to join Dormé, Captain Typho and the Gungan in the lounge space.

Whereupon to her surprise, one Jedi and one Jedi only entered the apartment and bowed in greeting before her.


Part 2:

Obi-Wan had been meditating in his bedchamber when he was summoned to Master Yoda's rooms. Leaving Anakin to catch up on the lessons he had missed during their mission to Ansion, he walked the distance from their apartment to that of the Grand Master's, idly wondering what he and his apprentice would be assigned to now, or if they might be granted a period of leave. He hoped for the latter, but suspected it was to be the former.

Since the moment Anakin was old enough for missions, Obi-Wan felt there had been little time for a rest between one cause and the next. Ansion had been particularly stressful for them both, Anakin more so, for his apprentice was troubled by nightmares about his mother. Obi-Wan felt the need to examine the dreams more closely, for they were happening too often to be the product of the boy's natural anxiety. However, their duty was to the Order first, forcing him to put such concerns aside.

He knocked on the door and waited for it to slide open, gathering his arguments in favour of taking this next assignment by himself and sending Anakin with another knight or master to Tatooine to see his mother. When the doors parted to allow him entrance, he put the words and thoughts out of reach of the Force in order to greet Master Yoda with the respect the venerated Jedi deserved, settling down into a meditative pose opposite him upon his spoken request. Glancing at the other occupant of the room, Master Windu, he nodded at him in silent greeting before waiting for the Council members to speak.

"A new mission we have for you, Obi-Wan," Master Yoda announced. "Provide protection to a Senator you and your apprentice will."

His heart lightened a little at the prospect of the Coruscant bound assignment. "Which Senator, Master?"

"Perhaps you have heard of the recent fatal crash on one of the docking platforms," Master Windu remarked.

Obi-Wan shook his head, waiting for further enlightenment.

"One of Senator Amidala's decoys and several members of her security detail lost their lives in the assassination attempt," Master Windu continued, causing Obi-Wan to lose his composure at the shock of hearing such news. "In light of the tragedy, Chancellor Palpatine has requested that she be taken under our protection."

Senator Amidala. Padmé. Obi-Wan felt the name thrust itself into his thoughts and feelings as memories of his time with her recalled themselves. He had admired the strength of her convictions, the sense of wisdom in one so young, the determination and ability to liberate her people from the Trade Federation. After Qui-Gon's passing they had spent some time together at the Palace, becoming close friends.

He had meant to stay in touch with her, but with his commitment to the Order and to Anakin, it had been impossible to find the time, especially without the presence of his apprentice. Anakin had also wanted time with her, often mentioning her throughout the years of his apprenticeship. Lately Obi-Wan had detected something in those feelings that caused him concern, an attachment that seemed unhealthy.

While Jedi were allowed friends outside the Order, the feelings that Anakin expressed suggested the desire for a deeper connection, one which he would not be permitted until he became a knight, which was many years in the future, despite the boy's stubborn want to take the trials soon. It was not fair to ask the Senator to wait for him, assuming she felt the same, although Obi-Wan privately doubted that, considering the differences between them, not to mention some aspects of Anakin's feelings that seemed far from what love should be.

"Masters," he began, "I accept this mission, but I ask that you let me undertake it without my apprentice." He paused to allow for an inquiry from either of them, when he received none, he continued. "Anakin has been having disturbing dreams about his mother which are causing him some anxiety. I was wondering if it would be possible for him to go Tatooine with another knight or master to put his anxiety to rest." he paused again, knowing it was an unorthodox request for a Jedi to see his family once they joined the Order. But Anakin always proved the exception. He wondered sometimes if that was wise. "Additionally, he has a strong affection for Senator Amidala that I fear would compromise his protecting her to the best of his abilities."

Having said all he could, Obi-Wan waited for the Masters' decisions. Inwardly he knew that they could take awhile. His admission about Anakin's feelings towards Padmé as a reason for keeping out of the assignment might prove to be the reason they deny his request, using the mission as a test of Anakin's commitment and self-discipline. They could send Anakin to Tatooine on his own, for similar reasons.

In the end they granted his requests. Master Yoda would go with Anakin to Tatooine, while Obi-Wan would protect Senator Amidala and a team of knights would investigate who was behind the assassination attempts. Obi-Wan was surprised with the ease in which they agreed, not to mention Master Yoda's decision to go with Anakin. The Grand Master rarely ventured from the Temple, except on missions of vital importance, which seemed to suggest that he believed Anakin's concern over his mother belonged in such a category. It made him feel disappointed and ashamed that he had not asked the Master before Ansion, when the dreams had first begun.

After leaving the Grand Master's quarters for his own, he informed Anakin of Master Yoda's decision to accompany him to Tatooine. When his apprentice asked what he would be doing while they were away, Obi-Wan told him he was providing additional security for the Senate in light of the forthcoming vote on the Military Creation Act. Many Senators had been threatened for the way in which they were believed to be voting, so his reply was not entirely lie, but nor was it the whole truth. He knew what would have happened if he had been honest with Anakin. His apprentice would have refused to go to Tatooine in order to protect the woman he claimed to love, his turmoil in being torn between concerns over his mother and the Senator compromising his ability to fulfil the assignment. As much as he hated lying to his apprentice, it was for the best.

Once Anakin was occupied in preparing for his trip to Tatooine, Obi-Wan gathered what few necessities he needed and left the Temple for the Senator's apartment in Coruscant's diplomatic district.

As he arrived, he surveyed the penthouse for security risks, grimacing at the wide tranparisteel views, the balcony on one side and the landing pad for spaceships on the flat roof. Reminding himself that her security had probably taken these risks into their own considerations, he pushed his concerns aside and entered the building. He was relieved when the building's security showed themselves immediately and asked for his identification, verifying with the Temple that he was supposed to be there before letting him go any further into the apartment complex. He was shown to the lifts and told which floor to ask for, along with the assurance that they would let Senator Amidala know of his arrival.

Someone from Nubian Security greeted him on his exit from the lift, along with a familiar looking Gungan. Jar Jar was delighted to see him, and Obi-Wan did his best to return the greeting with the same enthusiasm. All conversation came to a halt when they entered the living area and after Jar Jar had broke off mid remark to announce to the Senator that the Jedi had arrived.

He had time to catch only a brief glimpse of how the sunset added a soft glow to her beauty before she left the balcony to greet him. It was enough to note how ten years had only enhanced those qualities in her which he had admired when they first knew each other, bringing back a rush of memories, centred around their time on Naboo, during his grieving over the loss of Qui-Gon, coming to terms with the weight of responsibility now hanging upon him when he agreed to his dying master's last wishes. Despite her duties as Queen, she had counselled him then, given him the valuable gift of her wisdom and company, a gift which continued to grow in his appreciation over the decade they had spent apart.

Enough to realise that he should have asked Masters Windu and Yoda not just to assign Anakin to Tatooine, but himself to another mission as well, for he too felt the danger of becoming compromised by his feelings.


Part 3:

"It is a great pleasure to see you again, milady," Master Kenobi said as he bowed deeply in front of her before taking the hand she offered to him, pressing his lips against her skin in the old fashioned manner.

"It has been far too long, Master Kenobi," she managed to return, amazed that she found the strength and composure to utter such a reply. Not only did the sensation of his lips upon her hand touch her deeply, so did the rest of him. The years had been kind to him. He had been a handsome man when she first knew him, now with the addition of a beard, usually something she loathed, he held even more appeal. He remained the same build that he held a decade ago, no bulking out due to the acquisition of muscles, instead the lean tone of an athlete was clear to see, even with his Jedi robes. His voice had acquired a depth of warmth and maturity that was akin to a blazing fire within hearth, comforting to curl up beside, constant yet changing in its impact upon that which burned, infinitely fascinating both to listen to and watch.

Aware that her silence could become telling, if it was not already, Padmé quickly introduced her companions, before adding, "as pleased as I am to see you again, I must tell you that I believe the additional security to be unnecessary."

"My presence here will be invisible, I assure you, milady," he replied.

"I'm grateful you're here, Master Kenobi," Captain Typho said as they walked towards the sofas. Obi-Wan waited for her to sit before he did so himself. "The situation is more dangerous than the Senator will admit."

"I don't need more security, I need answers," she protested before her security chief could begin to wax lyrical on how highly he believed she took care of herself. It was not that she did not respect his concerns, she felt annoyed that they had to put themselves in danger because of her, annoyed at whoever wanted her dead, annoyed at the limits it some times put on her, worried it was preventing her from serving her country to the best of her ability. The sooner this matter was resolved, the better for all concerned.

"Hopefully answers we shall find," he replied assuringly.

"Do you have a plan?" she asked.

"It depends whether they try something tonight," he answered. "I shall have some beings stationed around the building, in areas of range. If they do try something, I shall counter what they do here, while the rest trace their whereabouts."

"So you're not alone on this mission?" she queried.

"No, there are several knights assigned to provide security for this critical vote," he explained.

"What about your apprentice?" she questioned. Relieved as she was that Anakin was not with him, she did wonder where he was.

"Anakin has been given some leave to see his mother," Obi-Wan replied. Padmé sensed a certain care in the way in which he spoke, and silently resolved to ask him for further information when they were alone.

"It seems both such a long time and yet barely a moment since I saw you last," she commented. "I must confess myself curious about what you've been doing during that time."

He obliged her with a recital of the missions which he and Anakin had been involved since they last saw each other. He recounted each one with good humour, glossing over the dangers or injuries endured within the missions. She relaxed in the comfort of his voice, deepened by the passage of ten years, the accent even more soothing than her first impression of it caused by his greeting, one she could imagine listening to for a long time, without tiring of the tone or words. Each time a moment in his stories caused her to smile or laugh he returned the emotion, allowing her the feeling that despite a ten year absence their friendship was not lost, nor was it terrifying that she should be feeling what she was currently experiencing, the possibility of their friendship deepening into something more intimate. It was an attractive eloquent silence of intent in the way that Anakin's spoken avowal never could be, although she did worry that she was reading too much into his manner, his style of voice and visible emotions.

As the skies transformed from twilight into night, their conversation came to a halt in favour of moving to her bedroom and waiting to see if the assassins would try again, when they thought she was at her most vulnerable.

Obi-Wan explained to her where the teams were stationed and where she should be to best protect herself. He asked her if she could make her bed look as if someone was sleeping in it and she arranged the pillows as best she could before he turned off the lights, closed the shutters and took up position by the large transparisteel glazed shuttered view.

Padmé watched him as he checked in with the other Jedi and members of her security team over his comm. He seemed confident in what he was doing, not arrogantly so, but in the trust that the Force would allow him to succeed. She felt some anxiety, but not as much as she had when she flew towards that landing platform upon her return to Coruscant. It was similar to when they fought together to liberate her planet from the Trade Federation blockade all those years ago, tempered by age. She had felt the optimism of youth back then, innocent to the political consequences within the Republic, focused on liberating her people. Looking back, she often wondered if it had been a mistake to make the journey to Coruscant to address the Senate, for her speech had accomplished little except perhaps her former Senator's rise to the executive office. Which despite his promises, had done nothing to reform the Senate during his tenure. Though since the start of her term as a Senator she had come to understand the limitations of the roles within the Republic, it was still galling to her that a lot of her colleagues could not put aside their political ambitions for the greater good, towards the Republic and those being who elected them.

There were enough good Senators though to persuade her to continue in her position, colleagues who were trying to make a difference as best as they could, hampered by the rules, regulations and corruption. They were not the majority within the Senate, which is why she felt that her presence mattered during the vote on the Military Creation act, that her absence would send the wrong message. She just wished that it had not been at the cost of the lives of her people.

As she tore herself from her thoughts to fix her mind on the present, she met Obi-Wan's eloquent gaze of compassion and respect. Whether she was reading too much into his expression or not, his company soothed her turmoil where others had failed to this day. She smiled at him in thanks, then turned her gaze to the shuttered view.

Her timing was eerily prescient, for the darkness of her bedroom was disturbed by the search light of a probe that began to hover outside her apartment. Padmé peered through the narrow gaps of the shutters, grimly fascinated by the assassin's latest weapon of choice. She watched as it proceeded to cut a circular hole into the transparisteel, one designed not to break the entire piece of glazing by doing so. Then the probe opened its innards and let two creatures slither from its bowels through the hole and into her bedroom.

Obi-Wan was on them as soon as they landed on the floor, his lightsaber swiftly extinguishing their existence. With a glance to her to check that she was well, he then spoke into his comm, checking in with the other security teams. She split her focus between his conversation and the creatures on her bedroom, trying to work out what species they were, while listening out to hear if any of the Jedi or her security had caught her latest assassin, Through the latter she was able to learn that they had caught sight of the assassin's position and were now chasing them through Coruscant's gambling district.

"They are Kouhuns," Obi-Wan said to her after he ceased speaking to the comm. "They come from Idoumodo, a planet in Wild Space. They carry a lethal poison." He looked from the creatures to her. "I am glad they did not get near you."

It was such a simple phrase, yet the depth of feeling with which it was conveyed was impossible to imagine or ignore. For the first time Padmé felt that she was not reading too much into Obi-Wan's manner towards her, that her desire for a deepening intimacy in their friendship was shared by him as well. If they were alone, she could see them coming together, possibly exchanging a kiss.

But it was not to be. A blast of static from his comm broke the moment between them, and they turned their attention towards it, as the speaker informed them of the capture of the assassin, followed by the unexpected death, as they were killed by another, who escaped from their pursuit with the aid of a jet pack.

At the end of the report, Obi-Wan turned to her and said with reluctance that he would be required to report back to Masters Windu and Yoda at the Temple. Making sure that she would feel safe in just the company of Captain Typho and her attendants, he took care to clear up the remains of the creatures and press her hand in a gentle yet tender farewell before he left.


Part 4:

Upon his arrival at the Temple, Obi-Wan went straight to Master Yoda's apartment. When the news of the latest assassin attempt had reached the Order, the Grand Master put back his and Anakin departure for Tatooine to the next day, and sent word for Obi-Wan to meet with him and Master Windu once more.

He hoped that his briefing sounded similar to his usual ones, despite the turmoil within his mind and heart. From the first sight of the Kouhuns being dropped into Padmé's bedroom by the probe, it was all too easy to imagine what they could have done to her. The thought that had it not been for their precautions that the creatures might have killed her was horrifying. Even now he could feel the heightened state of his concerns at leaving her to care of her attendants and security, worried that something might happen to her if he let her out of his sight and care for one moment.

Masters Windu and Yoda listened silently to his report, taking some time to commune with the Force before either of them spoke. "To Naboo you shall take her, Master Obi-Wan," the latter at last decided.

Initially Obi-Wan felt relief and joy at the chance to spend more time with her, away from the mire of politics and diplomacy that was Coruscant, at a planet that while had been the place of his greatest loss, the death of Qui-Gon Jinn, was her beautiful homeworld, all vibrant of nature and being living in harmony. Then he realised the motive behind the journey, the need to protect her, even when she was among her own people. When she was in danger, he had managed to prevent the Kouhuns from attacking her, but there was no guarantee that he would be as successful the next time. Just as he feared about Anakin's feelings for her, his own were also capable of compromising his actions. He was angry with himself for letting her be present during the assassination attempt. So many things could have easily gone differently, rendering the consequences from smooth success into tragic failure.

Sending them to Naboo would only further serve to deepen his attachment to her, even as he attempted to ignore her beauty and her intelligence, to refrain from declaring himself and acting on his desires. He would not press his attentions on her unless she returned his feelings, of course, something he found himself wondering about, whether she felt anything for either of them, how he would cope if it was Anakin that she cared about, or neither of them at all. She had been pleased to seem him, certainly admired his appearance, enjoyed hearing about his missions since their parting ten years ago. Her glance at him as he admitted how glad he was that she had not been harmed by the creatures was eloquent, but only hinted at the possibilities.

He wondered at how Padmé would feel, practically being ordered home by an authority that should have none over her, when there was a crucial vote taking place within the Senate, an act that she was one of the principal opposition leaders over. Her absence, even though she could easily deliver her vote by proxy or over the holonet, could prove significant towards the outcome of the vote. Silently he contemplated that if there was another way to protect her which would allow her to remain on Coruscant, even though there had already been two attempts on her life since she returned to the capital of the Republic. She had tried using her decoys and her apartment was still being repaired, ruling out a disguise and a move to different accommodation.

"An alternative solution do you have, Master Obi-Wan?" Yoda inquired, rousing him from his thoughts.

"No, Masters," Obi-Wan replied, though he knew that he would continue to try and think of one. "Only a concern regarding my renewed relationship with Senator Amidala. Until she and I met yesterday, I had no idea that could begin to care for her, not in the way my apprentice does, but deeply enough to realise that it will compromise my actions."

"Too young Anakin is to understand what it is to love," Yoda murmured.

Obi-Wan waited for either him or Master Windu to offer anything more, yet nothing further was said on the subject. Instead the latter informed him of his intention to trace who it was who had shot the assassin, while Master Yoda and Anakin left for Tatooine, and he and Senator for Naboo. They would travel as refugees, frequently changing transports to disguise their destination, and leave her security and attendants behind as a smoke screen.

It was a sensible plan, yet his mind continued to mull over alternatives to travelling to Naboo, as he left the Temple for her apartment to tell her, hoping he would find a solution more pleasing to her before he arrived at her residence.

Unfortunately none presented themselves, leaving him with no alternative but to tell her of the Jedi Council's proposal that she leave Coruscant for Naboo.

"I do not like this idea of hiding," Padmé began after he had informed her. "Nor am I happy with the timing of this departure. I haven't worked for a year to defeat the Military Creation Act not to be here when its fate is decided!"

"I am sorry, milady," Obi-Wan replied. "I did try to think of a way that would allow to remain on Coruscant for the vote. However there have been two attempts on your life since your return, both of which have incurred deaths, though not the ones which the assassins hoped for. I believe that Master Windu and Master Yoda are concerned with the possibilities of what they might try next. Perhaps even an attempt while you are at the Senate."

"I do see the dangers to others as well as myself," Padmé conceded. "I am not angry with you or Masters Windu and Yoda, just the circumstances which force my return to Naboo. Not to mention the reaction my family is likely to make when I tell them why I am back so soon after I left."

"If they are anxious over your safety, it is only natural," Obi-Wan offered.

"It is not just worry," she replied. "They believe that I have been in politics for too long, that I should withdraw and settle down, have a family."

"And you don't?" he queried.

Padmé shook her head. "No, I just don't see why I cannot have both. Many others do. Yet they don't speak of that life to me when they ask me why I haven't met someone yet."

"Perhaps they don't fully understand how difficult it is to do so in these uncertain times," Obi-Wan suggested.

"I think that their worries over my safety override any other thoughts," she remarked. "After all, during my first term as Queen, I was in danger. Only during my second term as sovereign was my life not at risk. Yet when Naboo campaigned for me to consider a third term, that was when they started asking me to withdraw from public service. What happened during my first term was always at the forefront of their arguments. These attempts on my life will only lend strength to them."

"And I doubt the presence of myself will help either," Obi-Wan added, and she nodded, pausing to take another piece of clothing from her wardrobe to put into the suitcase before she resumed their conversation.

"What does the Council suggest we do when we get to Naboo?"

"They haven't said, but it is your homeworld. You are the best person to advise me on where we could stay which would offer security for us without endangering anyone else, save possible assassins. Where do you suggest?"

"I presume Theed is out of the question and I don't want to put my family at risk. There is a villa in Varykino, the lake country, at which we spend our vacations. It is only accessible by boat and fairly isolated."

"That would suit," Obi-Wan agreed, inwardly troubled by spending a number of unknown days with her in a isolated villa, surrounded by beautiful countryside. Once more he questioned the Master's wisdom in sending him with her. Just because he was some years older than Anakin, his Jedi training more orthodox, it did not mean he believed himself immune to her. He recalled Master's Yoda's reaction to his confession about his and Anakin's feelings for her. No objections, other than that his apprentice was too young, yet no blessing or permission offered either.

It was a widely accepted belief that the Jedi were not allowed to marry, when the opposite was in fact the case. Attachments tended to form within the Order and those who married non Force-sensitives kept their lives private too. He had expected that due to Padmé's status as a Senator and one of some prominence, a relationship with her would not be allowed, yet Master Yoda had not expressed an opinion either way.

He would not do anything about his feelings unless Padmé gave an indication of hers. He did not like this current uncertainty however, though it was something which he would probably have to get used to. He had not expected to feel an attraction to her, she was still a child when they first met on Naboo. When he was told that the Chancellor had requested their protection for her, he had been worried for Anakin's feelings, not his own. Yet when he entered the apartment and caught sight of her, a woman now, standing before the transparisteel view, her beauty lit by the light of a Coruscanti day, he could not deny the rush of desire that appeared in his heart.

His interest only deepened as she greeted him, spoke with them regarding the matter of her protection, asked after his missions since their parting. She appeared to have taken a genuine curiosity in his account of each of them, laughing when he sought to derive some humour from them, smiling at moments of his compassion. He felt the warmth and soothing energy of the Force in her presence. She was all that was beautiful and wise within this galaxy, a breath of fresh air for the Senate, a body which previously he had not held a high opinion of when it came to encountering its members. He had learned of her desire to serve her people before, he was pleased to see that it had not been soured by the blockade or the years spent as sovereign and now Senator. When he took her with him as he set the trap for the assassin, it had not just been borne out of a desire not to leave her company, but to show her his skills in protecting her, to impress her. It was a childish impulse, one more akin to a first crush, not the feelings he was experiencing now.

"What about the assassin?" Padmé asked him, interrupting his thoughts and returning him to the here and now.

"Master Windu will investigate who killed them," he replied. "Hopefully it will lead to who is behind these attempts on your life."

"And Anakin?" Padmé inquired carefully. "Will he still be going to see his mother?"

"Yes," he answered. "Before Ansion he began to experience some disturbing dreams about her which served to distract him during the mission. I should have sought permission for him before we left, but I was uncertain if the Council would accept my misgivings about his nightmares after only a few occurrences."

"I hope his mother is well and these dreams turn out to be nothing more than a by-product of his natural worries about her," Padmé said. "He has not seen her in a long time, I imagine."

"Unhappily no," Obi-Wan replied. "I tried to keep track of her for his sake after I began training him, however Watto refused to give us any information about her."

"Oh," Padmé uttered, sounding a little surprised, although whether it was by his methods or the slave master's refusal he was uncertain. "Do you know why?"

"I believe it had something to do with how Qui-Gon managed to secure both the hyperdrive your ship needed and Anakin's freedom," Obi-Wan answered. "He tended to use rather unorthodox methods when it came to achieving success in a mission, usually ones which often caused feelings of hostility from those outside of the Order to dealt with him and gave the Council cause to rail at him a little on his return from each assignment."

"He did seem a little reckless," Padmé agreed, as she laid another piece of clothing into her suitcase. "I admonished him it for once, or at least I tried to."

"I admire your boldness in attempting to do so," he said, as he imagined how his master might have responded, whether he knew back then that the young woman who accompanied him to Mos Espa was really the Queen in disguise. "What did he say in reply?"

"He said that the Queen trusted his judgement and so should I," Padmé chuckled. "I told him that he presumed too much. But there was little I could do about it." She turned to him. "You seem more measured in your responses, although I do remember when you sought to free my pilots."

"I have my moments," he replied, remembering a certain shaft, hanging on for life as he glared at a sith, before catching sight of his master's lightsaber and forming an ambitious solution to his current situation. "However, when it comes to your safety, I will do whatever I can to ensure it."

"I will accept that," Padmé allowed. "And while we're at it, I think we drop the titles, don't you?"

Obi-Wan inclined his head. "As you wish, Padmé."


Part 5:

They did not take her ship, travelling on public transport instead as refugees, while her security and decoys remained on Coruscant, lending the appearance that she was still there, for now. Sooner or later they would learn of her return to Naboo, until then she only had Obi-Wan and Artoo for company.

In many ways he was a perfect travelling companion. He helped her with the luggage, allowing her to carry what she could, yet still using his Force enhanced strength to handle the main bulk of it. He knew more languages than her and thus avoided potential difficulties at meal times or when they had to secure a berth on the next transport. Not all custom officials liked dealing with droids, especially those seeming owned by refugees, nor were they entirely honourable in their duties to the worlds which they worked upon, either.

They switched vehicles on several occasions, in an effort to dodge pursuers, if indeed whoever was intent on killing her had anticipated her rather complicated escape route back to Naboo. In each one they slept in the same room, though he put up a sheet between their beds so both of them always had privacy. He kept the conversation going, talking with her of more past missions, this time during his apprenticeship with Qui-Gon and in return she furnished him with stories from her own youth.

By the time they reached Naboo, she felt that they were well on their way to becoming close friends, as well as protector and protectee. During their time together with nothing but themselves to occupy their thoughts, it became natural to ease their curiosity about each other's lives, their politics, beliefs, and interests. There was a nice freedom in debating with someone who was not in legislature, who had no ulterior motive in putting forth their opinions or pushing for their own agenda to be enforced.

In Theed they shed their refugee status before presenting themselves to the sovereign, who greeted them warmly. Jamilla was a different ruler to her, much more of a traditionalist than the radical she was considered, for when she came to the throne, she had wiped out the corruption of the previous ruler, fought back against a blockade and an occupation, formed an alliance with the Gungans, and all this before her second term. By comparison her successors reigns had been quite unremarkable. Yet Jamilla's affection for her was genuine and it was with respect that she listened to Padmé's report concerning the situation within the capital and the Senate, even as she expressed her faith in the Chancellor's ability to resolve the current unrest. Padmé's belief in the Senate and the executive office was a little more jaded, however she kept her thoughts to herself, sharing aloud in the cautious optimism expressed by her queen.

Jamilla mentioned that her father had paid a visit to the Palace, which resulted in her and Obi-Wan having dinner at her home with her mother and father before they left for the villa at Varykino. Obi-Wan was charming and courteous to her parents, trying his best to assuage some of their concerns as to her safety when she informed them of who he was, what had happened on Coruscant and why they had returned to Naboo. If his negotiations worked, she would learn later, for there was not enough time to speak with them alone before they had to leave the capital.

They left for the villa early the next morning, travelling via speeder until they reached the lakes, then by boat for the rest of the way. He steered the vehicle, following her directions until they reached the little house that had been a vacation home for her and her family for as long as she could remember.

When they docked, she accepted his hand as they climbed out, before leading him to survey the view at the stone balustrade veranda, which surrounded half of the villa.

"It is a beautiful place," Obi-Wan murmured appreciatively, as he cast a look towards the water and the horizon beyond.

"I used to come here when I was in school. My friends and I would swim out to that island every day. I love the water. We used to lie on the sand and let the sun dry us, and try to guess the names of the birds singing."

She turned in time to catch Obi-Wan's gentle smile directed towards her, an expression she could not help but return. With the soft look in his blue eyes, which seem to possess all the shades of the ocean, she knew in that moment that she could come to love him just as much as she loved the sea. It was an epiphany tempered by the memory of someone, she forgot whom, telling her once that the Jedi were forbidden to form attachments. She could not ask him now if that were true, she had not the courage to give voice to her feelings only to hear either that it was or she had been imagining affection where there was none. Sighing, she drew herself away from the balustrade, for the view had become lost on them both. "Let me show you the rest of the place."

It was a modest villa, with refreshers to each of the bedrooms that shared another view of the lake which surrounded it, an open plan living and dining area, with the kitchen separate, fully stocked with food and drink for she had called ahead when Obi-Wan agreed to her choice of where to stay. Together they prepared a meal, conversation moving from apprentices to tales of their youth once more, and the mood lightened as they tried to compete with each other as to who had the most humorous anecdote between them.

In the midst of one particular tale they moved from the dining area to the sofas, taking up only one in a natural manoeuvre that was a product of their close occupation with one another during their journey from Coruscant to Naboo. Somehow Padmé found herself resting against Obi-Wan as they reached the end of their laughter resulting from the tale.

A silence of a different kind fell over them as they exchanged gazes. Suddenly she could feel a tension between them, as though something deeply significant was about to occur. She could not stop herself from gazing into his eyes, losing herself in their oceanic depths, as the world around them seemed to fade away while she waited for him to take the next step.

His hand reached out to cup one side of her face, his thumb caressing the apple of her cheek, back and forth.

Padmé held her breath.

Then abruptly, he withdrew, his hand, his gaze and his close proximity, rising from the sofa. "Forgive me, I am quite tired. Goodnight, milady."

He left before she could say anything in response. She found herself staring at the door into the hall which led to the bedrooms, long after he left, nothing but the crackling of the fire to disturb the silence that settled around her. Her mind struggled to comprehend fully what had just taken place. Had he truly just tried to .... his intent was clear. But it was forbidden by the Order. The counterpoint to this was instinctively raised by her mind. She knew Obi-Wan, or at least she thought she did. He appeared to be the embodiment of a Jedi, serene, confident, content to serve the Order. So why would he risk defying them, unless it wasn't defiance.

Setting that aside for the moment, Padmé turned her thoughts to his kiss. Or rather his intention to kiss her. He must care for her, or at the very least feel some attraction. She wondered what made him change his mind, unless it was because he had forgotten the Order for a moment. But Obi-Wan did not strike her as that kind of Jedi. Had he been waiting for her, perhaps, she speculated. Waiting for a sign that she felt the same way before he declared himself. A caution that was true to what she had come to learn about his character. During their journey she came to realise that they shared many of the same interests and ideals, that they were easy in each other's company. They would compliment each other well.

Rising from the sofa, she poked at the fire until only embers remained, a series of resolutions forming within her mind. Starting tomorrow, she would ask Obi-Wan about whether the Order permitted relationships, under the guise of Anakin's childhood vow, if needs be. Once that was established, she would ask him if he had feelings for her.

And then perhaps she would find out what he had really meant to do tonight.


Part 6:

After spending a restless night in bed, his mind full of what he had nearly done that evening, Obi-Wan sought the meditative calm of the Force the next morning, in the hopes that it would soothe his fevered body and restrain his impulses. His vow to not show his attraction to her had been undone in the work of one moment.

He settled into his usual pose on the stone floor of the balcony outside his room that overlooked the lake which nearly surrounded the villa. His memory recalled when he stood alongside her at the balustrade, how beautiful she looked in her loose flowing dress, how well the shades of pink, yellow and blue had complimented her skin tones, the way it billowed around her body, her luscious curves outlined by the fasteners at her neck and waist, which tapered low, parting the material to reveal the soft glowing skin of her back. He had wanted so much to press a trail of kisses down her spine, slip his hands underneath the partings of her gown to fondle and caress her. He had been grateful when she moved away to show him the rest of the villa, uncertain as to how much longer he could have stood their without surrendering to the temptation.

For the rest of the day he fought against his base desires as he unpacked his things, helped her with dinner and hindered by the recollection of those stories which they had laughed over during the meal and afterwards upon the sofa. It was not just her looks which drew him to her, but the brilliance of her mind, her glorious personality. When the silence fell between them, her face so close, he could ignore his need no longer. Before he was aware of his movements, his hand had gently caressed her cheek, positioning her just right to receive his kiss. Only a crackle from the fire had woken him from his desires. Hurriedly he spoke out an apology and left the room with as much grace as he could.

Now, as he recalled that moment, he caught the look in her eyes, the starlight glow which lay across her face, brightened by the dying embers of the fire. He had not imagined nor been mistaken in that expression. In that moment she had wanted him as much as he wanted her.

His was furious with himself for so very nearly surrendering to his desires and not realising that she would have welcomed them if he had. All his queries could have been answered had he been more observant. Instead she was mostly likely feeling confused, hurt and rejected by his actions.

They needed to talk, as soon as he had calmed the chaos within him, the swirling fevered emotions that were busy imagining what might have happened had he kissed her, ranging from quite chaste to the most scandalous, right beside the need to rebuke himself, his inner voice delivering a thorough dressing down worth of a Jedi Council Master. He drew a deep breath, then another, then another until these violent emotions gradually faded away, leaving nothing but the soothing ancient energy of the Force.

When he returned to villa, he showered and changed into a fresh set of robes before venturing beyond the bedchambers back into the living area where the events that had caused his unsettled state had occurred the night before. He delivered a brief glance towards the soft furnishings before turning away to the kitchen, where he encountered Padmé preparing their morning meal. She had changed too, from the trio of pink, yellow and blue coloured dress into a gown made entirely in the second colour, but a more rich and deepened shade, decorated with embroidered flowers and gold brocade across the corset, sleeves and skirt, leaving only her shoulders bare. Her hair was drawn up into a couple of nets, the odd loose strand framing her face. She looked just as utterly breathtaking as the day before, especially when she glanced up and smiled in welcome at his appearance. If she been hurt by his actions the night before, her own sleep had evidently caused her to not dwell upon it this morning, or at least he hoped such was the case.

"I thought we could go to the falls not far from here today," she said as she set the table suited for morning fare. "Take a picnic, some swim wear, make a day of it. The water is heated from the natural springs within the area."

He tried not to let all the good work of his meditation be undone by the thought of her in a swimsuit by focusing on the food before them, however he suspected it was a useless endeavour. "Whatever you wish, Padmé."

He helped out with the preparations for the picnic, unable to escape the feeling that Padmé was watching him whenever they were in the same room. She was being careful about it, however in the Force nothing was subtle, he could sense her eyes on him, unanswered questions in her thoughts, probably about last night.

They remained unspoken until they reached the falls, after she gave him time to survey their new surroundings. Naboo's lake country was truly extraordinary. Not even the Room of a Thousand Fountains at the Temple back on Coruscant could compete with this. He supposed it was the price of nature verses artificial, the Temple's falls were controlled by the Temple's energy generator, their displays carefully managed and maintained, whereas the falls surrounding him now were under nature's purview, their roaring water cascades echoing across the grassy field where Padmé had chosen to set the meal.

Only once each item was laid carefully across the cloth covering the grass and they were comfortably seated, did she venture to speak to him about something other than food or their surroundings.

"On Tatooine, when we first met Anakin, he said he would marry me one day," she began, in a tone that he sensed was meant to sound calm, yet held a vulnerability under the surface, which conveyed the truth of how she really felt in regards to the matter which she had just broached to him. It made him wonder if last night had awoken questions not just about him, but about his apprentice as well.

"He sounded so certain about the event," she continued, "that it terrified me, a child having that kind of conviction without any idea of what such a promise would entail. Has he ever mentioned it to you?"

"No," he replied, struggling to overcome his surprise, for he had not realised that his apprentice had wanted her almost from the moment they met. "But he has spoken of you often, too often. His memories are coloured by his feelings for you, emotions that I fear could compromise his commitment to his duties as a Jedi, to the Order and to the Republic." He had to be honest with her about Anakin's feelings, for unlike his apprentice, Padmé was able to deal with them. "I think he is in love with the idea of you, and the more that idea is denied, the more he is determined to achieve it, no matter what the cost."

"He did compare me to an angel from the moons of Iego," Padmé chuckled at his wide-eyed reaction to that opening gambit. "I thought he was just repeating a line he had once heard without any idea as to its real motive. What would happen though if he chose to act on his feelings for me?" she queried.

Obi-Wan saw what she was about, or at least he hoped he did, for it seemed clear from her replies that she did not return Anakin's feelings, still he answered carefully, with both himself and Anakin in mind. "In his case he is still an padawan learner, it is forbidden in the Code for an apprentice to have attachments."

"What if he waited until he became a knight?" Padmé asked.

"If you felt the same, he would have to obtain blessing from a member of the Council to explore a relationship."

"Do all Jedi have to seek the blessing of a Council member?" she queried.

"It is standard practice," Obi-Wan replied. "The Order requires us to exercise a certain amount of discretion when it comes to who we associate with, because of our standing within the Republic. In the majority of cases, our unions are within the Order, or with someone who has no public position, which is why it is presumed that that we practice a celibate lifestyle. We do not announce the relationships publicly, unless they are compromised, and then we make sure to define them as separate from our position within the Order."

Padmé nodded, choosing to eat something then, allowing for a retreat into silence. Obi-Wan understood perhaps her desire not to risk her heart further, however, he wished she would have alluded to what happened between them last night more directly. He knew that the onus was probably on him to explain his actions, that he was just concerned about risking his own heart, yet he could not find the words.

He looked up from the food before him to catch sight of her taking off her gown, revealing a two piece swimsuit beneath. It was a relatively modest outfit, yet it still displayed flesh which he had not seen before, nor did he believe he ever would, except in his wildest fantasies. He could not take his eyes from her and was all too well aware how obvious his appreciation was.

If she had caught sight of his appraisal of her, Padmé let it pass without comment. She turned from him to lay her gown carefully out of the way of grass stains, then wandered towards the falls. He watched her dive into the water to emerge some moments later, raising her hands to brush her hair back from her face. Gulping involuntarily, he wondered how long his self-restraint was likely to last today. Already he could feel it being stretched to its limits and the Nubian sun had yet to reach its zenith.

Taking a few deep breaths to compose himself, Obi-Wan rose to his feet and started removing his robes. As he stripped to his swimsuit he could not help but wonder if she was watching him, as he had her. If she was, it was too intermittent to detect through the Force. When he started to walk towards the water, he caught sight of her swimming leisurely in a patch of calm water. Brushing away a slight disappointment he briefly felt over the sight which contradicted the possibility that she had not been looking at him while he disrobed, he dived into the water.

When he broke the surface once more, he allowed the rush of the currents through his actions to fully affect him, focusing on the present, as his late master frequently reminded to do when he was living. The water was just the right temperature, he could feel the energy of the force within, the source of the springs below, the rushing falls that surrounded them and the life forms contained therein. He decided to investigate the depths below, put his training and friendship with a Calamarian to good use.

The last time he had been swimming on Naboo was when he and Qui-Gon followed Jar Jar Binks to the Gungan city. Unlike Otoh Gunga or the central core, the falls were not teaming with hungry marine life or Gungans, nor had he the time until now to explore the wonders that Naboo had to offer. He found some coral and carefully explored the rest of the marine bed in search of other life.

He surfaced some time later, meeting Padmé's quizzical and slightly concerned gaze. Gently assuaging the latter emotion, he recanted the history of one of his oldest friendships from the Temple crèche.

They left the water when he finished describing the friendship, grabbing the large towels they brought with them to dry themselves off. Obi-Wan walked away from to give them each a certain privacy so they could shred their wet swim wear and dress in their dry clothes. He removed the wet garment before vigorously towelling himself dry. He took his time, uncertain as to how long she would need, before cautiously heading back to the picnic site, ready to shield his eyes from catching sight of her if she was still getting dressed.

She was packing up the picnic when he arrived and he quickened his pace in order to assist. A gentle silence seemed to have fallen over them since they left from the falls, neither of them wishing to break it, even though both of them had unanswered questions still present within their minds.

It was dusk by the time they returned to the villa, the outside lamps lighting their passage from the outside to the in. Splitting the basket, clothes and towels between them they divided up the labour of putting them away.

Obi-Wan returned from the kitchen to set up the fire in the living area, attempting to focus solely on those preparations, rather than the swirling chaos of thoughts within his mind. He could not help but feel that something significant was going to happen tonight between him and Padmé, whether either of them chose to initiate it or not. He was reluctant to make the first move, believing it was her right to do so first, uncertain as to how to go about it if he did. He felt that he should have asked if it was okay to kiss her last night, even though he never actually followed through with his intention, the fact that he had not asked her first caused him to wonder if he had perhaps taken advantage of her in some way, entirely without meaning to do so.

A confession of his feelings might be the most sensible route, but he did not want to make her feel awkward around him if she could not return them, and he had the feeling that assuring her that it would not make a difference to their relationship if she felt unable to meet his deeper affections would not help. She had become a good friend during their journey from Coruscant to Naboo, he had no desire to lose their friendship, even if it meant that he could never confess to her that he wished for a more intimate union.

Suddenly a hand touched his shoulder, startling him from his thoughts. He turned round to see her crouching beside him with an expression of intent.

"Obi-Wan," she began softly, "did you mean to kiss me last night?"

For a moment he hesitated, thrown by her courage to address the events of last evening so directly after only a day of learning about the Order's customs regarding intimate relationships through indirect questions about his apprentice's desires for her.

"Yes and no," he replied, knowing honesty would serve them best here. "I didn't plan to, but when the moment came about, I cannot deny that I wanted to."

"What prevented you?" she asked him.

"I wasn't sure if I was taking advantage of you," he explained. "Whether you felt the same. And I have no desire to lose our friendship, Padmé, I've come to value it quite highly since we renewed it on Coruscant."

"After you left," she began, "I spent awhile thinking about what you almost did, what I would have done, why you would do so. I still believed that it was forbidden by the Order until today's enlightenment. However I knew you would not disobey the Jedi Code, leaving me to contemplate the possibility that relationships were allowed within and without the Order. So I considered my own feelings."

"And what conclusions did you reach?" he asked her nervously.

"That, while I have no desire to lose our friendship either, in many ways we are suited to one another," she answered. "We share a lot of the same interests and beliefs, both personally and politically. And then there's the matter of myself and my friends having a crush on you when we first met on Naboo all those years ago," she blushed, "and that those years we spent apart have been kind to you," smiling when his cheeks reddened at the compliment. "In short, if you had kissed me last night, I would have kissed you back."

"And if I do so now?" he asked her.

"My answer remains the same," she replied before leaning forward to accept his touch.

Dreaming of the moment bore no comparison to the reality. Her lips were as soft as her cheek, which his hand came to cradle once more, to support her chin as she opened her mouth and let his tongue duel with hers. She matched his tender exploration, placing her hands upon his chest as sought to bring her closer, then in searching caresses when he went to thread the fingers of his other hand through the long dark tresses of her hair.

Breathless he withdrew, not completely, for he was unable to resist stealing small chaste kisses from her lips, prolonging the withdrawal, until dazed from the exchange he stayed back, marvelling at the glow about her from the experience, which added lustre to her skin and to her eyes, as she met his darkened gaze with one of her own.

"How far do you wish to go tonight?" she asked him.

"No further than you desire," he replied, stroking her cheek, before leaning forward to kiss her once more.


Part 7:

They exchanged a few more kisses, learning what each other liked, exploring the depth, power and passion they aroused within themselves. With each exchange his hand slowly moved from her cheek down to her neck, then over her shoulder and down her arm, caressing her wrist.

He took her hand in his and helped her up, leading her back to the sofa, much to her surprise.

"I don't want to rush this," he explained, continuing to caress her hand as they sat down, flicking his gaze between her eyes and their hands. "Or mess it up."

Padmé took hold of his caressing hand and raised it to her lips. After the soft press of her benediction, she brought their grip down to rest upon her lap.

"I didn't have time for a private life when I was Queen," she began. "Sometimes as a senator I feel I have even less. I want to make this work and to make the most of the time we have here."

"As I said, we will only go as far as you desire," Obi-Wan said softly once more.

"You have no idea how attractive your sincerity is," she commented. "I shall take you at your word. I desire your lips…. everywhere."

He smiled at that, before he leaned forward and caught her mouth with his. Their hands detangled themselves to find fastenings on their clothes.

Padmé found his belt first, tugging at the leather until the clasp was free. She let go to part his tunic, then his undershirt. He put his arms back to assist her endeavours, then pulled his mouth away from hers, panting from the passion and exertion.

"May I remove part of your gown, Padmé?" he asked solemnly.

She nodded, lifting up her hair. "There's a clasp at the back of my neck."

He reached forward and round, relying on touch to find the fastening. Adding a caress to the roots of her hair, he gently removed the collar of her dress from her neck, brushing it away from her until the garment fell to her waist.

When her chest was revealed to him he pulled back from her to take in the sight of her as he had seen her earlier when they swam. For a long moment his eyes lingered over the curves of her breasts, concealed by white silk, then the soft skin below, before returning to her eyes. Catching sight of her self-conscious expression, he smiled tenderly before seeking her lips once again.

His mouth moved slowly from hers to her neck, then to her breasts, his nose brushing against the white silk. He carried on down to the limits of her blue embroidered gown, then back up, repeating the journey until not one particle of her unclothed flesh was left untouched.

Slowly he pulled himself away and stood up, holding out his hand. When she took it and rose to her feet, he waited for her to lead them to her bedroom.

Once inside he let go, his eyes on her as he leant against the door to close it. Carefully he walked towards her, watching her, making sure she was still happy with what they were doing. She placed her hands upon his chest, fingers exploring, her gaze furrowing whenever she encountered a faded scar.

When she started to bestow a kiss upon each past injury he could endure it no longer. Gently his hands caught her face and directed her lips back to his, while his feet propelled them towards the bed. He pulled away from her briefly when they landed, making sure she was still okay, receiving a smile from her flush kissed face in silent reply. Stroking her cheek, he held her gaze for a moment before resuming his previous worship.

He reached where her gown was around her waist and sought her gaze once more, silently asking permission to go further. She bent her legs, pressing her feet upon the soft sheets, and when she nodded, his hands began to gather up the blue silk until it was bunched around her belly. He paused again, waiting for her consent before he pressed a soft kiss to the cloth covering her mound. She watched as he continued to touch her there, one of his hands going to join his lips, while the other remained upon her gathered gown in gentle restraint.

She felt his fingers slip underneath the cloth in tender exploration. Reason fled as she lost herself in the sensations which his stroking fingers and reverential mouth were wringing forth upon her body. He built up the bliss steadily until it crested within her, washing over in waves of exaltation.

When awareness of her surroundings returned, she found his gaze level with her own once more, smiling softly. Leaning down, he kissed her tenderly, before settling on the bed beside her, his hands resting on her skin.

"Do you wish to continue?" he asked her softly.

She laughed. "How can you ask, after that?" She pulled his arms around her once more, losing herself within his lips and his embrace.


Padmé felt the shine from the Nubian sun cast its rays across her and opened her eyes. Smiling as she remembered what has happened last night, she turned carefully to find Obi-Wan still sleeping beside her.

He had continued to be gentle, tender and considerate as they deepened the intimacy between them to fullest degree. One union had not proved enough to sate their desires, a look or touch stirred them into another, then another until they lost count. During the moments before and after they had talked, not of the past, but about the future, how they would continue their relationship when it was safe for her to return to Coruscant. Who should be made aware of it upon their return and how discreet the Jedi Code dictated them to be about it. Anakin would have to be told, for it would not be fair to hide their relationship from him, due to his unrequited feelings, even though they knew he would not take the news of their relationship well. Blessing from a Council member would have to be sought, although she had learnt of Master Yoda's response to Obi-Wan's feelings, they felt that a more direct answer was needed. There was no question of the Senate being informed, for it was a private matter between themselves, something separate from their positions within the Republic, a distinction which both of them doubted some members of the Senate or the citizens of the Republic would be able to realise if they learned of the relationship.

As for her family and her retinue, she had decided that only the latter would be told for the moment. While she and Obi-Wan were sure of their feelings, it was still early days and her family would be quick to urge her to give up her seat in the Senate, settle down and have children. She saw no reason why she could not retain her position as others had, and Obi-Wan was in complete agreement with her.

The discussion of children had caused her to ask about the Order's position when it came to raising offspring from Jedi unions, as it was common knowledge that the Jedi were educated in the ways of the Force from the cradle. Obi-Wan explained to her that when it came to couples, they usually raised them like other non-force sensitive's families, the temple training classes becoming their school. When they were old enough to become padawan learners, it was up to the two of them if he took them as apprentices or they were trained by other masters.

She told him of her desire to raise them on Naboo and he agreed with her, explaining that it was common practice for most Jedi families to raise their children outside the temple, leading to the belief that most held that relationships within the Jedi Order were forbidden, because there was rarely evidence to be seen otherwise around the Temple on Coruscant which was considered to be the headquarters of the Order.

It was extraordinary how much they had committed themselves to each other, over the space of a few days. That future which they had discussed would take more time to arrive than the talking of it, yet she could see it so clearly, almost as if she had been blessed with the ability to sense the Force. She idly wondered if their union had granted her such, knowing it would pass to their children, not only just because of his ability, but of the nature of how the talent arose within each being, prevented as it from conceiving just yet, by their preventative measures. It was probably impossible within the laws of science, yet after last night, and the wondrous feelings which still lingered within her, she could believe that anything was possible.

"Come back to me," a voice murmured suddenly into her skin, followed by a reverent kiss, causing her to withdraw from her thoughts and turn to see Obi-Wan had woken up whilst she had been recollecting over the night before. Now his blue eyes regarded her tenderly, while his mouth sought to kiss her bare skin.

"What were you thinking of?" he asked her as she took his hand and brought it to her lips in greeting, taking each finger within her mouth, sucking gently, causing him to groan in response.

"Last night," she replied, "and the future." She kissed his hand one last time before letting it go. "I wonder how many more days we will have here before the affairs of the galaxy intrude upon our privacy."

"I suggest that we perhaps follow one of my late master's philosophies," Obi-Wan said as his hands joined his lips in exploring caresses. "Focus on the here and now. I promise to make it worth your while."

"You already are," she murmured before allowing him embrace her fully.


After spending so much time together with nothing but their hopes and dreams to think or explore, it was a harsh holo communication that intruded upon their peaceful idyll, summoning them back to Coruscant.

Master Windu had followed the assassin all the way to Geonosis by way of Kamino, a planet who someone had attempted erase all evidence of from the Jedi Archives. On the former planet he had encountered Count Dooku, who was now meeting secretly with his old Master, Yoda, in the Jedi Temple. Currently the nature of their conversation remained unknown, even to the members of the Council.

As for the events on Tatooine, Yoda had managed to trace Shmi Skywalker, from her being sold to a moisture farmer then her eventual freedom and marriage to that same man, to her being kidnapped by Tusken Raiders. With Anakin's help they had rescued her and brought her back to the Lars homestead, where her force aided recovery was being carefully monitored by a Jedi healer. Anakin had been allowed some leave from the Temple to spend time with his mother, and consider whether he wished to resume his apprenticeship, now it was made clear to him that he still had a lot to learn before he would be ready for the trials.

The Military Creation Act had been voted down by the Senate, much to Padmé's relief, although there was talk of it being brought before them for consideration again in the future, in a much amended form. Although she knew of Count Dooku's presence within the Temple, having been an occasional member of those meetings between him and Master Yoda, due to her position in the Senate and her reputation as a pacifist and strong political leader, the rest of the Senate had yet to be made aware of it, due to a certain dark presence within the government of the Republic that Count Dooku had discovered and Master Windu was now attempting to trace.

In the midst of all this Padmé and Obi-Wan continued their relationship, obtaining blessing from Master Yoda and grudging acceptance from Anakin via a holo communication from Tatooine. How the young apprentice really felt about their relationship remained to be seen while he took his leave and his master took care not to talk about it unless his padawan brought the matter up.

When Count Dooku finally revealed himself to the Senate, along with Master Windu and incontrovertible proof that the Chancellor was really a Sith lord, Obi-Wan and Padmé were ready to sanctify their union, a ceremony that took place on Naboo, after the chaos resulting from the former dark revelation was restored into normalcy. A new leader was elected, along with several seats belonging to those who had proved to hold alliances with the ambitious lord of the Sith, whose death, closely fought battle in the executive office had caused that part of the Senate to be rebuilt, as a way of cleansing the former rooms of the evil belonging to its former occupier.

Anakin settled on Tatooine, leaving the Order to marry and raise children with his mother and her family at the Lars homestead. The non-force sensitive offspring never came to the temple, and though he tried, Obi-Wan's friendship with his former apprentice faded into nothingness, the inner demons of the one preventing the other from reforging the friendship that once existed.

Obi-Wan and Padmé bought a house on Naboo, where they raised their children. Both continued to serve the galaxy, in the Jedi Order and the Senate. When their twins were old enough, Obi-Wan began to train them in the ways of the Force. As peace continued to reign upon the galaxy far, far away, their offspring grew up to be wise and gentle beings, proud of their heritage and determined to continue to follow such a legacy.

THE END.