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Author's Note: This probably won't be what you expected to follow the end of Touch. However this is what I always thought would follow. In my head their intimacy should be allowed a lot of time, which is not available when they have several loose ends to tie up. So this is my tale of how they begin to do that, only begin, as Anakin will take a long time, you know how difficult he can be.

With that in mind, enjoy.

AFTER THEIR KISS.

Sequel to The Touch of Her Hand.

Considering the gravity of the feelings recently confessed, the kiss Obi-Wan offered to her was quite reserved. She felt herself chasing his lips as he withdrew, only to pause when his hands went from embracing her to take hold of her own and bestow equally pure, yet somehow deeply intimate, kisses to each of her fingers.

"May I have a look at your back?" he asked her softly. "We did not have time on Geonosis for me to offer more than a quick Force sealing over."

She looked at him astonished as she realised why the scratches from the Nexu were not as nearly as bad as they had first felt. Nodding, she turned round, letting him gently take hold of her hair and place it over her shoulder so he could view the wounds better. She felt him carefully peal back one of the bacta strips from her skin. It fell to the floor as a slight breeze brushed against the exposed scratch. Another strip soon joined the first on the floor, as she ascertained that he was finishing what he had begun while seated behind her within the Geonosisian arena; healing her injuries.

When he was done, she felt his fingers lightly caress each patch of now spotless skin, the touch as intimate as his previous benediction on her fingers. She heard him take a ragged breath, before drawing her into his arms, pressing her back gently against his front.

He was fighting to control his desire for her, she realised, as she felt him caress her hair with his lips, his breathing slowly evening out as he began to calm himself down. As much as she wished that he would let go of his control and surrender to his desires, she knew that they needed to talk before they could allow themselves the freedom to celebrate their love in the joyful communion of bodies and souls.

Only when her own heart had ceased pounding in excitement at his display of affection for her, did he withdraw his embrace, handing her the poncho she was about to put on before he had entered the room. Suddenly self-conscious, she quickly pulled it over herself, before taking a seat on the bed, as he took residence on one of the chairs that was by a table across from it.

"I hate to sour the mood," he began, "but how much more can you tell me about Anakin's behaviour from the time I left you in his care until we were reunited on Geonosis?"

"You mean if I saw him act in a manner that was atypical of a Jedi?" she sought to confirm.

Obi-wan nodded. "Yes. I need to know as much as possible before I tell Master Yoda about what he did on Tatooine. Although if what he said to you was not an exaggeration, it is possible that Master Yoda felt the darkness."

"You can feel when another Jedi goes dark?" She asked him.

"Sometimes," he replied. "The Force is within the energy of everything, surrounding and flowing through us like the currents in water. Sometimes even those who do not have the ability to use the Force can detect the sudden appearance of darkness or light into a space where before it was absent. Master Yoda is certainly the most sensitive to them. He is considered the wisest and strongest out of all of the Order."

She felt silent and thought for a time, reflecting on everything Anakin had done since they left Coruscant. Recalling the evening when he confessed his feelings for her, the words he used struck her anew, as she realised the fear she instinctively felt tangled up in the shock of what he was saying. "Before we left for Tatooine, Anakin told me of his feelings for me. The language he used," she paused, shivering as she recollected it. "He felt I was tormenting him. He had kissed me when we first arrived at my villa in Varykino. I let him because I was so surprised by his boldness. When I realised what was happening I withdrew and took responsibility for it and he let me. He claimed that it haunted him, that he did not want it to become a scar. He asked me if I was suffering as much as he was."

Obi-Wan nodded, taking in her words with care. If he was jealous then he did not show it outwardly. "And what was your reply?"

"I tried to make him see reason. I pointed out the gulf our differing responsibilities should have placed between us. I told him that he could be expelled from the Order, that I was not willing to let him give up his future for me. Then he proposed we keep it a secret. I told him that I could not live with such a lie. I thought he agreed with me, but now I'm not so sure."

"What made you change your mind?" he asked her.

"After what he did on Tatooine, I thought loving him might save him from further darkness. But when you touched me in the arena, I realised that I would be lying to him and to myself about my feelings. That there was the possibility that one day he might realise the deception and resent both of us for it. That the lie actually might push him towards the darkness more than the truth would." she sighed. "I just wish I had realised that before I told him that I loved him."

"I don't need to tell you that the lie will only make it harder when you talk to him tomorrow," Obi-Wan remarked. "But then so will the events that will inevitably follow my conversation with Master Yoda."

"What are you going to tell him?" she asked.

"That I can no longer obey Qui-Gon's promise to train Anakin," Obi-Wan replied. "That I probably never should have taken on such a responsibility in the first place. Master Yoda was right to caution me when I told him of my intentions back on Naboo, but I was still freshly mourning my master's passing. I refused to listen to him, believing that Anakin was my responsibility, when I should have let wiser minds prevail. I cannot change the past, I have to put my faith in the future. Anakin needs guidance from mentors he is willing to listen to. How many that turns out to be after he learns that what he did on Tatooine is no longer a secret remains to be seen." After a short pause, he added, "it might also prove wise that I am no longer Anakin's master when you and I go public with our new relationship."

Padmé did not object to his last assumption, given their positions it was inevitable that their new found intimacy would not remain private between them for long. And it was probably better for all concerned that it did not. Yet a part of her hungered for that seclusion, the heady sensation of having something that only herself and another knew of. Not as a secret, for it was it did not break the rules as a relationship with Anakin would, nor as a union to be ashamed of, for it had not be soiled by either of them committing a dark and wrongful deed. It felt too precious to let anyone else become a party to it, something to be savoured fully before letting others learn of it. However given the current circumstances it would prove impossible to do so for long.

The value of privacy was only truly realised when it was about to be lost.

Obi-Wan looked up from his musings and caught her thoughtful gaze. He held out his hand in an invitation to join him. Padmé rose from her seat across from him and took the space offered, letting him take her into his arms.

"I never thought for a moment you might feel the same for me as I do for you," he murmured reverently, his hands running soft caresses up and down her back as she snuggled against his chest.

"You never would have told me, would you," Padmé realised, "if not for my carelessness. You would have let your feelings go unrequited forever. I am glad you did not. I have a hunch that events would have gone badly for the both of us if you had held your peace."

"It may yet still," he remarked, "things are so uncertain. What happened on Geonosis was the first battle in what I suspect will be a long war. The Jedi Order will be called upon to defend the Republic with the Clone Army we took ownership of against the Separatists. It has been over a millennia since we engaged in armed conflict. I cannot see a peaceful way out of this. Only a way to protect the Republic from being involved, though I'm not sure the argument will wash with the Confederacy."

"What way is that?" she asked him.

"If the Order takes sole responsibility for what happened on Geonosis, if we distance ourselves from the Republic and insist that the conflict with the Separatists is between the Confederacy and the Order, that the Republic is not involved."

"But I'm a Republican Senator," Padmé reminded him. "I represent the Republic and I was involved with the conflict yesterday. Though I suppose we could argue that I was defending myself and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. When I spoke with Count Dooku about freeing you, I used the authority of my position. And Dooku did condemn me to death along with you and Anakin." She paused, mulling over his idea some more. "There's no harming in making the attempt though, it might work." She looked at him carefully. "What will that mean for us though? It could put our relationship in a difficult light, politically."

"It would," Obi-Wan agreed, "but we can argue that our public positions are separate from our private lives. It is unlikely that you will find yourself on the battlefield again. That is unless you see to do so."

"I better take care not to," she added, "if the rest of the Senate accept your argument." Gently, she shifted her position forward until there was little between them except their clothes. Placing her hands upon the tunic covering his chest, she began another subject. "I think we can leave talking about everything else now until after our meetings are over tomorrow. Which leaves us."

"Indeed," he acknowledged, his hands halting their caresses to rest his palms against her back. "I'm afraid you don't know what you're getting yourself into."

"I don't think you do either," she returned before kissing him. Unlike their previous one, this was full of everything they had kept hidden, passionate and tender all at once. His hand moved from her back to cradle her head, fingers threading themselves into her dark hair, whilst her own explored the tunic across his chest, looking for the limits of the cloth. She pressed herself against him, feeling herself blush as she realised that she wished for a deeper intimacy than this current embrace and felt what she believed to be his own body's desires for the same.

Breathlessly she drew back from him to ask another question. "Should we wait until you have the Order's blessing to continue this?"

"Until you're ready," he corrected gently. "I don't want to rush this, however uncertain the future might be."

"I don't want tonight to be our only time," she said softly. "But I hadn't envisaged you leaving my sight until tomorrow morning either."

"Nor I you," he replied. "We'll just have to exercise some restraint then," he proposed before kissing her once more.


 

Part 2:

Padmé left her quarters first the next morning, as they decided last night, in between discussion of their relationship and more kisses along with searching caresses, - she paused in her journey for a moment, her eyes closing and cheeks blushing as she recalled that part of the evening, before resolutely clearing her mind and returning to the present concerns - that her conversation with Anakin should take priority. It was going to be a difficult day for him, receiving one set of bad news after another, but further concealment would only make matters worse.

He was still recovering in the medical bay, albeit in a private room, waiting for his injuries to heal before he received the prosthesis. When Padmé arrived he was already awake, his back to her as he stared out at the view of hyperspace, his stance harking back to another morning on Naboo, when he told her that he had to go to Tatooine. He had been prepared to go alone, she recalled, a part of her mind wondering what would have happened if he had, despite what little it would do to change things now. On Tatooine she had been a silent witness to most of his actions, save one, where she had been something of a confessor after the event, albeit without providing absolution, only compassionate silence, privately too horrified to give vocal conviction to something she felt obligated to bestow, in view of the turmoil and remorse under which he was suffering.

She remembered his hesitation over Obi-Wan's predicament, the brief insistence to obey the Council's instruction to remain where they were. If it had not been for her, would he have gone to Geonosis? He would have received the communication, as she would have leant him her ship anyway, if he had not relented on going alone. She knew that he loved Obi-Wan as much as he resented his criticism, yet in light of his actions on Tatooine, the dark deed that she felt she could not have prevented, even if she had gone with him to rescue his mother, made her question everything.

Which was ultimately another factor in her decision to retract her declaration on Geonosis. Freshly resolved, she crossed the threshold into his room, waiting for him to turn round before she spoke.

He could sense something was wrong from her immediately, given the tension within his stand, which she could see as soon as he had turned round and returned her greeting.

"I need to talk with you about what I said on Geonosis," she began, "before we entered the arena."

"Why?" he asked her curtly.

"Because I don't think you understood what I meant," she replied, knowing the blow needed to be gentle, as well as swift. "I do love you, Anakin, but not in the way you wish me to."

"Who has talked with you?" he all but shouted at her. "Who has made you change you mind?"

"My mind was changed before anyone came to talk to me," she replied, determined not to lose the steady tone from her voice, even in the face of his anger. "I realised that in letting you continue to believe that I returned your feelings, would cause resentment between us in the future, possibly even darkness. Not to mention hiding our relationship from the Republic and the Order would place a difficult strain on us in what is likely to be a conflicted future. We're at war with the Separatists now. I let my compassion for you overrule my better judgement, and I am sorry that I did not clarify this with you earlier."

"You can't mean that!" he cried. "Not after what you said!"

"Those were just words, Ani," she replied, "to convince you of something I thought was the best course of action. I know now that it was quite the reverse. I regret what I said and I know it will take time for you to come to terms with that. I can only hope in time that you will."

He frowned, obviously frustrated by her resolve. "Who spoke with you?" he persisted, realising what she had revealed.

"Obi-Wan came to see me on Master Yoda's behalf," she replied, knowing that he deserved nothing less than the truth. "He told me that padawans were not allowed to have relationships." She held back from revealing to him the other events that occurred during that conversation, as Obi-Wan felt he should tell Anakin of their relationship. "He also asked me why we were on Tatooine."

Anakin's anger turned from hot to cold as he realised what she had done. "You told him?"

"He's your master, Anakin, he has to know," Padmé defended herself. "What you did on Tatooine was an act of the dark side, you all but admitted it to me. Given your reluctance to confide in me and your attitude towards him, I wasn't sure you would tell Obi-Wan. He knew about your dreams concerning your mother. I could not conceal from him what had happened. You need help coming to terms with what you did."

"I don't think your opinion matters anymore," Anakin informed her, his tone now deadly cold. "You've betrayed me, you've lied to me. How can I ever trust you again?"

Padmé sighed. She had a feeling this would be his response. "If that's how you feel, I should go."

She turned, walking back out of the medical bay, half expecting some response from him, a few more shouted words or a force aided throwing of something. The silence made her uneasy, but she refused to look back. She had dealt him a bitter blow, further time in his company would only enrage him further.


Obi-Wan left Padmé's quarters only a moment or so later, his route in the opposite direction, his thoughts likewise recalling and savouring the events of the past evening as he journeyed to Master Yoda's quarters. As it was decided that Padmé would have her unpleasant conversation with Anakin first, so it was the decision for him to visit Master Yoda while the former took place. Obi-Wan wanted to know what options Anakin would have before he faced his padawan to tell him about that and his relationship with Padmé. While the judgement of the Council would have to wait until they were back on Coruscant, he knew that if what Anakin had reported to Padmé was not an exaggeration, Master Yoda would have undoubtedly sensed the act of darkness. He would be waiting for Obi-Wan or Anakin to confess, and Obi-Wan was aware that while he had covered for his wayward padawan's misdeeds in the past, there would be grave consequences if he tried to concealed this one.

He had felt Anakin's conflicting emotions on Geonosis, during the battle and particularly the duel with Count Dooku. A lot of his padawan's actions in that lightsaber fight had resulted from a loss of equilibrium that hinted at some remnants of the darkness from his actions on Tatooine still remaining. He knew from previous experience that this needed to be dealt with and quickly, before there was a repeat of the event. War with the Separatists was coming, it was inevitable that there would many battles like Geonosis in the future. The Order had spent over a millennia in relative pacifism, the return to armed conflict would be hard on every member, but especially those exposed to darkness. Anakin would find it hard to resist now he had acted on it. He needed to learn control lest he committed another.

The door to Master Yoda's quarters opened as soon as he came upon it, a sign that the master had sensed his arrival. Obi-Wan found him meditating and silently dropped into his own chosen position for such an endeavour, allowing himself a brief communion with the Force. The ancient energy surrounded and penetrated him, offering a warm, comforting embrace, reminding him how long it had been since he sought it. Not since before he arrived on Kamino. Too much had happened since then, which was an all too easy excuse, causing him to resolve to make more of an effort in the future.

When he emerged it was to find the Grand Master's steady gaze surveying him, waiting for him to speak. Obi-Wan knew without asking that Yoda was already aware of what he was going to say, for he could sense that much both during the communion with the Force and from the Master's expression. He received the Master's memory of when he learned of Anakin's dark actions, how Qui-Gon had cried out in an attempt to stop him, a desperate plea from the Force, which somehow carried the separateness of himself. It was an unusual occurrence, that would require further thoughtful meditation, when there was time to devote that which was needed. So instead he began with a question.

"What is to be done, Master?"

"Counsel him we must, Obi-Wan," Yoda answered, "resolve the conflict in himself, else lost in the dark side he will forever be."

"I'm not sure how to help him, Master," Obi-Wan confessed. "Even my own experience falls short. And then there is the relationship between Senator Amidala and myself, subject to your blessing. Given his feelings for her, I'm not sure how welcome anything from me will be, once he learns of it."

"Additional assistance you may need," Yoda agreed, "wait and see, we shall. Depend on Anakin, all outcomes do. Talk with a counsellor on our return to Coruscant, the three of us shall. If the Council learns, insist on Anakin's expulsion they shall. With the existence of the Sith, allow this to happen we cannot."

Obi-Wan nodded in agreement, waiting quietly for the master to say more. Suddenly he felt a sharp thwack upon his thigh, a result of the grand master's gimer stick striking him. Grimacing from the brief pain inflicted, he watched a wry grin work its way on to Yoda's face.

"Granted my blessing is, on your relationship with Senator Amidala. Take great care however you must, though need my warning, you do not."

"I am well aware, Master," Obi-Wan replied. "I did wonder if it would be possible to delay the Republic's involvement in this conflict, despite Senator's Amidala's presence. I know that the Clone Army was intended for the Republic, but as it has acted under our orders, perhaps both sides could be persuaded into neutrality."

"Difficult, it will be," Master Yoda mused, "yet possible perhaps. Meditate on your proposal further, I shall. Now, to your padawan you must go."

"Yes, Master," Obi-Wan replied, before rising to his feet and leaving the quarters in search of the med bay.


Though he was not to learn of the similarity until later, Obi-Wan found Anakin the same pose that Padmé had when he reached the room. Unlike the Senator however, he barely had chance to cross the threshold before his padawan turned round and laid into him with a stinging verbal assault.

"How dare you make Padmé betray me!" Anakin thundered. "Have you already talked to Master Yoda? Here to deliver my expulsion from the Order, are you?"

Obi-Wan let the sallies pass by unacknowledged. He knew this was going to be a difficult conversation. The level of his apprentice temper worried him though, he could sense the darkness hovering, ready to feed. "I did not make Padmé betray you, she was resolved upon what she felt about you before I spoke with her. Yes, I have been to Master Yoda. He has offered counselling. If Council were to learn of the matter, expulsion may have been something which you could have faced. But in times such as these we cannot afford to lose another member of the Order to the dark side. How could you, Anakin? Did you not think of those who will be left to grieve just as you do at the death of your mother? Did you not hear Master Qui-Gon's voice during the fury you unleashed? Master Yoda did, he heard him cry out in pain at your actions."

"How dare you bring him into this!" Anakin yelled. "You have no right!"

"I have every right," Obi-Wan replied gravely, "he was my master and would have been yours, but for the actions of a Sith. Which is what you are in danger of becoming, Anakin, you must acknowledge. Do you really want to be like the being who killed Qui-Gon, or like Count Dooku? Power such as that corrupts and destroys. It never heals the grief which you are dealing with now."

"How would you know?" Anakin challenged.

"Because I felt that anger," Obi-Wan revealed, "when Master Qui-Gon was struck down. I watched, Anakin. We got separated, the Sith sent me flying on to a lower ledge. I had to catch up. When I reached them, there were shields separating us. I had to wait for them to lower before I could go and help him. Before the last one came up, Master Qui-Gon was struck down. There was nothing I could do. I met the Sith's eyes, saw his smug grin and I silently vowed to wipe the expression off his face.

"When the last shield finally dissipated I ran and attacked him. I was angry and desperate, my lightsaber skills lacking their usual finesse. I was no match for his aggression and he kicked me into the reactor shaft. By the grace of the Force I found a nodule within the tunnel and held on. He kicked my saber after me, I watched it fall into the darkness below. He struck at the shaft, trying to work out how to finish me off.

"I saw Master Qui-Gon's saber. Summoning the Force I called it to me and leapt from the shaft. In one stroke I ended the Sith's life. It was a severe blow, one I should not have chosen, for it is not the way of the Jedi to dismember. I soon realised the futility of my temper that day, for it had changed nothing. Master Qui-Gin still died in my arms, still laid on me the promise to train you. Although I felt unready for knighthood, I knew it was the rank required in order to fulfil that promise. I know you believe that your training is over, that you are ready for the trials. The truth is that you never stop learning, no matter how much you think otherwise. We shall have to work through this together, Anakin, if you will allow us to."

"If?" Anakin queried, having remained silent until then.

Obi-Wan took a breath, preparing himself. His padawan was calmer now, he had actually listened and taken in the story of Qui-Gon's passing, which Obi-Wan had never felt ready to relay. Even now he spoke of it before he realised that he had done so, then continued because he realised that it might provide a useful lesson for his padawan. He had refrained from dwelling on the darkness that he briefly felt during that duel, for it had not lasted as long as he suspected his apprentice's had, though it had been long enough for him to realise that he never wanted to feel it again. Now he had to tell him the last piece of bad news and it would probably undo all of the good that his previous foray into the past had wrought.

"During my conversation with Padmé, she and I realised that we felt something for each other, something that went deeper than friendship. Though we have only recently gained the blessing of a Council Master to explore this new facet of our relationship, we knew that you should know before the matter becomes public, as it inevitably will, no matter how discreet we are."

"You've always been there before me," Anakin murmured, resentfully. "A thief in the night, taking things away from me. Qui-Gon, Padmé. Who's next?"

"I was there before you," Obi-Wan agreed. "But I did not steal Master Qui-Gon, the Sith took his life. As for Padmé, it is up her, just as much as it is up to you or I. And I would have held my peace, if it had been you, Anakin, or anyone else. A word of caution given your apprenticeship, but nothing more."

Obi-Wan turned and walked out of the room, knowing there was nothing he could do but give his apprentice some space tonight. Time and peace was something they all needed to sort through these matters, though the latter would be in short supply when they returned to Coruscant.

He returned to Padmé's quarters, finding her waiting for him. Silently he took a seat beside her and accepted her hand which reached out to claim one of his, bringing it to his lips in a mutual quest for comfort.

"Master Yoda gave us his blessing," he said quietly, delivering the good news first. "As for the rest, well Anakin reacted how we expected him to."

"He does not want to see me ever again," Padmé murmured, causing Obi-Wan to turn a concerned gaze on her. "Nothing more than I probably deserve, really, having deceived him so dreadfully."

"Time is all we can give him," Obi-Wan replied. "His youth is not helping his feelings right now. Nor his past actions. Master Yoda thinks counselling might help, he wants to conceal this from the Council, though I suppose Master Windu will be told. It is his due as head of the of the Council and Master Yoda's closest friend and advisior. If Anakin is expelled from the Order, we will surely lose him to the dark side for good. All we can do is hope that with time and with our help, he will return fully to the light."

A silence fell between them after that, broken by his tender kisses across the hand which he still held in his own. Each salutation brought a meeting of eyes, pupils searching for something, reluctant to break quiet, wondering if it was right after all they and Anakin had been through today, to exchange further intimacy. Some residual guilt was still felt within them both, for disappointing his feelings in favour of their own.

Padmé saw the rightness of the delay that invoked them only sleeping together last night. It should not be about seeking solace from the recent events, it should be a celebration. She had said to him that she wanted more than one night and that still held true. Tomorrow they would arrive at Coruscant. She would have to return to her apartment before undoubtedly being summoned to an emergency Senate session, while he would probably have the first of many meetings with Anakin and the counsellor, providing Anakin still wanted him as his teacher. Even if they managed to prevent involving the Republic in the war with the Separatists, it would still be some time before they could have more than moment together. She was frustrated by the wait, yet she knew that it was necessary.

He dealt another kiss to her hand, and she met his gaze once more.

"Stay?" she asked him.

A kiss and a nod was his reply.

TBC.

Author's Note: I know this is merely a pause in the story. In writing ATOHH I unknowingly began another epic. I can see an overview of what will happen next, leading through a rewrite of ROTS, however, at present, I do not have the time do it justice. I have my degree to do and Shimmer to finish. I also have griefs with both sides of my family to deal with, along with something else that destroyed my trust in people. I doubt I shall ever recover it. I know that and what happened to the inspiration that originally woke my muse for Star Wars has affected the way in which I write in these stories now. I have had difficulty in learning to separate the character from the actor, because their actions mirror what destroyed my trust in people, an act only compounded by the betrayals committed by my other relatives and the people in their lives, although they were different in nature.

I can only hope that my readers will be patient. It is my intention to work on Shimmer in the summer after I have finished the first module of my degree. Only if I can finish the rewrite of ROTS, will I start posting it. Until then, may be the Force be with you, always.