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Summary: Padmé has second thoughts about what she feels for Anakin after her confrontation with Obi-Wan. This was inspired by a scene in Karen Miller's Wild Space, in which Obi-Wan asks Padmé not to have a relationship with Anakin. She argues with him and eventually pretends to agree, asking for Anakin to escort her home so she had tell him in person. In truth, she plans to do something else, the end scene of Episode II. I cannot recommend the novel enough, it is a fascinating insight into Obi-Wan, Bail Organa and a little of Padmé.

UNWILD SPACE.
Obidala Convention 2020.

It was a quiet journey back to Naboo. Still reeling from her fight with Obi-Wan, Padmé was reluctant to speak to anyone else until she could trust her ability to keep her composure. She sought the solitude of her cabin on the private yacht, barring her retinue and security from admittance.

Emotionally and mentally exhausted, she paced the confines of the quarters, unable to do anything but reflect on what they had said to each other. They had never fought so before. She was a pacifist by nature and he rarely lost his Jedi serenity. Yet in this disagreement both of them had quickly lost control of their tempers. She had been in tears by the time he left, angrily determined to do everything in her power to keep true to her feelings for Anakin, to make sure that the Jedi could do nothing to separate them.
Yet Obi-Wan's warnings that no good could come out of their relationship haunted her. His words lingered where his presence had not and now they played out over and over through her mind, awakening her doubts.

'There can be no hope for anything but a civil cordiality between you and Anakin.'

'He has feelings for you. Strong feelings that cloud his judgement and make him disobedient to the Order.'

'You must know that to pursue this any further will only lead to heartbreak for both of you. If you do love Anakin, you must let him go. He can't love you and be a Jedi.'

'The life of a Jedi is lonely. It demands of us the greatest sacrifices. The placing of our needs last, and those of strangers first.'

'I beg you to do this one thing. Leave Coruscant. Return to Naboo. Give Anakin the time he needs to recover from his injury... and realise what you and I already know: that going your separate ways is the only possible remedy for this unfortunate situation.'

'No good came come of this relationship for either of you.'

'Better a small cruelty now than a crushing devastation later.'

'Could you forgive yourself if loving you destroyed him?'

In the immediate aftermath of their argument she had resolved to lie to Obi-Wan, to pretend that she saw the wisdom in his reasoning. She had persuaded him that she needed to tell Anakin the truth herself, alone and away from the Order. Guilt, sadness and anger had warred within her as she gave voice to the deception. She did not want to deceive him, or indeed anyone she regarded as a friend, yet here she was about to embark upon the greatest deception, not just with her friends, but with her family as well.
Before she left Coruscant she had called her homeworld and arranged for a holy man to come and visit her and Anakin at her villa in the Lake Country. Her intention was that they would be married. The union would remain a secret until the end of the Clone Wars, when she would be able to prove that Anakin could love her and still be a Jedi.

It had seemed such a simple solution at the time. The only difficulty she could foresee was persuading Anakin to agree to such a union. He had been quite subdued when he met her at the landing bay. Preoccupied as she had been due to what Obi-Wan had said, she took care to make sure she greeted Anakin warmly. Yet he barely acknowledged her, his manner quiet and withdrawn, making her wonder if the Jedi had spoken to him about his feelings already.

She recalled when he had first confessed his love to her, how he had said that their kiss had haunted him, that he hoped it would not become a scar. His choice of words had not struck her until now. She associated love with positive connotations and equally positive feelings, mentally and physically. Love did not injure, even if it was unrequited, for if did, it was a selfish affection, not born out of a desire to wish those that they loved happy, even if they were happier with someone else.

There was also another circumstance that preyed upon her mind which gave her doubts concerning their relationship. The Clone Wars. A conflict she held some blame in starting, forgetting the implications of her position in the Senate when she decided that they would go and rescue Obi-Wan from Geonosis. By involving herself within negotiations for his release with Count Dooku and then in the battle that followed the rescue attempt led by the Jedi, she had dragged the Senate into a conflict that could have perhaps remained under the purview of the Jedi if she had not interfered.

It would mean that she and Anakin would have very little time together. Snatched moments in between Senate meetings and battles at best. Hardly a good foundation for a relationship, let alone a marriage. They had not seen each other for ten years before he and Obi-Wan were assigned to protect her. She had changed and grown during that decade apart, doubtless so had he. Did they really know enough about each other, were either of them really ready for this commitment? Would it not be better if they just tried to see each other during the conflict, waiting until the war was over before they married. A thought occurred to her that asking the Order to accept that she and Anakin were married might be too much. Respecting their views, yet showing them that they were capable of carrying out their responsibilities to the Republic while maintaining a relationship with each other could be a compromise that they might agree to accept.

Ultimately she would have to see what Anakin had in mind concerning their declaration. It may be that he too was doubting his feelings, having second thoughts about what he had said to her on Naboo, Tatooine and Geonosis with or without interference from a member of the Jedi, given his behaviour when he greeted her before they boarded the ship.

There was also what he said to her on Tatooine to consider. Padmé still had difficulty in believing what he had told her was true. Could he have really been driven to slaughter so many Tuskens by the grief of his mother's passing? He had spoken with such conviction and regret, yet she found the act hard to reconcile with what she knew of his character.

If it was true, Anakin needed much more than her love. The possibility that she loved someone who had committed such a horrific act terrified her. She had never contemplated that she could ever feel that way about a murderer. Yet Anakin's love was like a supernova, blinding her in its intensity. And whatever he had done, he regretted, as he admitted to her on Tatooine. He needed help to overcome his grief. She wondered if she could persuade him to visit a grief counsellor on Naboo. After her disagreement with Obi-Wan, she did not think anyone in the Order were capable of helping him. They might even turn him away if they learned of the atrocity, convinced that by committing such an act of mass murder that he had turned to the dark side.

Padmé did not know much about the dark side. She had seen the Sith who killed Qui-Jon Jinn and fought with Obi-Wan on Naboo. She had talked with Count Dooku and seen him duel with Obi-Wan and Anakin on Geonosis. Both were different from each other. The Sith on Naboo had been silent, threatening, deadly. A predator. Count Dooku had a quiet gravitas about him, the dignity of an old gentleman, yet still a formidable warrior, just more restrained than the Sith on Naboo, who Padmé liked to a Spitting Rawl. One was human, almost a Jedi. The other was more of a poisonous animal.

Anakin was not like either of them. He tamed animals rather than behaving like one, she remembered him doing so on Naboo and Geonosis. He was not old enough to resemble Count Dooku. He was impetuous, reckless and young. He made her laugh. He made her take a break from her responsibilities and duties to the Republic, to be the young woman she was rather than what her roles had made her.

He was a friend. Perhaps that was the most important thing to consider. She would ask him what he wanted to do, but she was no longer resolved in persuading him to make a commitment that neither of them were probably ready for. They still had a lot to learn about each other, how much they had changed in the ten years since they had last met. He was still grieving over the death of his mother, their duties in the Order, the Senate, and the Clone Wars would keep them busy. She would keep communications between them open if she could, given the war and their duties to the Jedi Order and the Senate, but that would be all. Anything else was best left until after the Clone Wars were over, whenever that might be.

The communicator hub on her desk beeped, indicating that they were approaching Naboo. She took a look at herself before leaving her quarters and decided there was no need to change, as her inner turmoil did not reflect within her outward appearance, therefore she could hide her thoughts and emotions under her usual mask of composure.

As her retinue and security accompanied them to the palace, there was no chance to speak to Anakin until she dismissed the former in favour of the latter. Having been to the Lake Country before with only a Jedi for companionship, there was no objection from her security or her assistants, whom she knew were all eager for some time away from their duties to her and her office to see their families.

It was not until they had left the Palace and were walking to the transport for Varykino that her companion finally spoke to her.

"What am I doing here?" He asked her.

"I thought we should talk about what happened on Geonosis," she replied, a little disappointed with the petulance she detected in his tone. "The start of the Clone Wars has caused me to consider the practicalities."

"Such as?" he queried.

"Well, did you plan on doing anything about our avowals to each other on Geonosis?" she pointed out, her disappointment at his attitude turning into irritation.

When he shook his head, she could not deny that a part of her was dismayed, even though she half expected such to be his answer.

"Do you want to do anything about them?" she asked him.

He shrugged. "What could we do?"

Padmé was becoming increasingly frustrated with his lack of co-operation to make a decision or plan of action regarding their avowals. It seemed to confirm that someone from the Jedi had spoken to him about their feelings for each other, but she feared to ask him if that were true for it would cause him to inquire the same of her. She knew that she would make the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan worse if she revealed the argument she had with Obi-Wan before she asked for Anakin to escort her back to Naboo. Yet she was worried that he would sense the lie in her tone if she denied it had taken place.

"Arrange to see each other in between my duties to the Senate and yours to the Order," she answered his question with, instead. "Which will be difficult with the conflict between the Republic and the Separatists. I imagine you will be posted to the front-lines. That will make it hard for us to see each other. Not to mention making sure that our relationship is not discovered by the Order, the Senate or the press. An encrypted form of communication may have to be set up, perhaps."

"The holonet will likely be monitored for encrypted communications," he said. "The Order has a separate, protected space, though. I could set something up. Would Artoo be able to receive them?" he asked her.

She was relieved to hear him engage in the discussion at last. She should have thought of posing something involving mechanics earlier. Though her decision on the ship had been to maintain only a friendship between them, her suggestion had the unfortunate effect of encouraging him to believe otherwise. Still, she knew that the communication would be infrequent at best, given the likely-hood of him serving within the conflict between the Republic and the Separatists while she was occupied with her Senate duties.

"I think so," she replied. "You'll need to have a look at that." She could pilot ships, handle weapons and use droids, but when it came to rewiring the latter's circuity she was not afraid of asking others for help. Plus it might give Anakin something that could soothe his mind and emotions, as she had seen him attempt to do so on Tatooine.

The transport for Varykino arrived, allowing for a brief pause while they followed the rest of the beings who were also bound to the Lake Country on to the vehicle and located a couple of seats. Padmé found a set of four and a table which no one else seemed inclined to take, allowing them a little privacy for their journey.

When Anakin had sat down and the transport had got underway, Padmé decided to voice her resolve. After all, she had only promised a way to communicate with him so far, nothing intimate. "While the war is going on, I do not think that we should have an intimate relationship."

Anakin stilled, a look of confusion coming over his features. "I don't understand. I thought you said that you wanted to do something about our love. Now you're saying that because of the war we can't?"

"I'm saying that we don't become lovers," Padmé elaborated, managing to refrain from flinching at his tone. "Due to our duties, the moments that we see each other will be few and far between. We ought to spend the time getting to know each other, building a proper foundation for our relationship."

"I thought we did know each other," Anakin countered. "We spent all that time here and on Tatooine, Geonosis. Not to mention the journeys here. Isn't that enough?"

"For some people, maybe," Padmé allowed. "But time alone does not determine intimacy. Ten years would be insufficient to make some beings acquainted with each other and ten days are more than enough for others. If we were to be nothing more than friends the experiences we have shared together would be enough, perhaps. But to be something more requires endurance and faith. Not just in each other but in our unity. We need to be comfortable and secure in the knowledge that whatever happens, nothing will make us doubt or despair, so when we stand before the Order and argue our case, there is nothing that they can do to change our minds or tear us apart."

She drew several breaths when she finished that speech, inwardly shocked at how passionately she had spoken to him, about them and their future, when only hours ago she had resolved not to act on her feelings and persuade him to do the same. It seemed that their relationship had become a cause for her to fight for, an injustice that would crumble in the face of her eloquence. Oddly, she did not believe that it should command such an elevated position of importance. It did not matter to her as much as the occupation of her planet or the defection of several systems from the Republic to the Separatist cause.

Not only that, but it felt like she was lying to him about how much she was committed to their relationship. Knowing that the communication will be sporadic at best, her resolve lay in the hope of the Clone Wars lasting long enough to lessen the depth of their feelings for each other so that by the time peace had returned to the galaxy, there would be nothing with which to defend before the Jedi Order.

She should tell him the truth now, before she committed herself deeper. Yet she remembered his outbursts on Tatooine, how scared she had felt in the face of his anger. Fear should not prevent her from concealing this from him, yet right now, when she could hope for his restraint, given their present location, a part of her hesitated. Better a small cruelty now than a crushing devastation later, Obi-Wan had said. The question was, would Anakin perceive it that way? He was so young, still. A child in ways that she was not. He would demand to know what had changed her mind and it would all come out. If she had tasked him with taking her home to her parents, perhaps such a scene could be avoided. Yet they were going to the lake country, where they would be alone.
No one to witness his wrath but herself.

When had she become so terrified of his anger? When had she started to fear him? Was it back on Tatooine when she heard what he had done after the death of his mother? Or did it go further back than that? She could remember her panic when he first told her of his feelings, her restless mind and body as she moved away from him every time he took a step closer to her. The relief she had felt when he resentfully accepted her point of view. She retired to her room, breathless and dazed, slept poorly, only to have him declare that he needed to travel to Tatooine the next morning. He had been distant but calm, though she could sense a storm was brewing. When he came back carrying his mother's body, she felt his silent wrath barely contained within himself, directed at the Lars for daring to take his mother away from the slavery she suffered in Mos Espa. They were good people who she could tell had given Shmi Skywalker happiness and freedom. It had not been their fault that the Sand People chose to attack, nor had they hesitated in mounting a rescue, albeit in vain. Yet Anakin had blamed them and blamed Obi-Wan for his mother's death. Her heart had pounded as she scrambled for the words that might keep him from falling apart. Then the eerie calm in which he confessed what he done after she died. She had thought his love akin to a supernova during her argument with Obi-Wan, and again earlier, when she ruminated about what to do during the journey from Coruscant. A sudden bright explosion of light followed by a slow fade into total, utter darkness.

An all too apt description, she realised now.

She could recall her security. There was an emergency button on her data pad. One push and they would come as fast as they could to her location, get her to safety and take anyone with her into custody. She could claim it was a drill so as not to alarm the other beings on the transport. It was a long journey from Theed to Varykino. Around them passengers sat staring and tapping on their data pads. All she needed was to say to Anakin that she had to finish up some work. It occurred to her that she had to cancel the holy man too.

But first she had to tell him. Would he really believe her change of heart after she had uttered such a passionate speech not five minutes ago? Could she convince him that this was of her own free will, without influence from the Jedi Order or anyone else? She had offered up objections when he first spoke of his feelings, only to dash them aside in favour of a declaration and another kiss before they entered the Geonosian arena. Admittedly she had believed that they were going to their deaths, however the avowal had been made. The withdrawal would not be so easy.

Keeping communications with him seemed the better solution. It would give him time to adjust to the idea, slowly come to terms with the reality of their situation. Obi-Wan was right about Anakin not being ready for a relationship, but he was wrong when it came to the timing of making such a fact known to his apprentice. It would be a crushing devastation now rather than a small cruelty, given that he was still mourning the loss of his mother. She would help him through his turmoil until he was in a better state of equilibrium and able to make the sacrifices that were required of him to become a Jedi.

As she took out her data pad, laying on the table, scanning through her schedule until she found the entry for the meeting with the holy man and input the commands necessary to cancel the appointment, Padmé reflected on the rapid transformation of her resolutions since her argument with Obi-Wan. She had gone from being determined to defy his advice and defy the Jedi Order, to agreeing with him about the impossibility of an intimate, committed relationship between herself and Anakin. In retrospect she was not as surprised by this as perhaps she could have been, for she held a great deal of respect for Obi-Wan's opinions. They had much in common with her own.

After she had cancelled the appointment with the holy man, Padmé opened her communications program and wrote a letter of apology to Obi-Wan. She much regretted now her open dispute with him over Anakin, along with her intention to deceive him. Even though she had resolved not to follow through with her deception, she still felt that it was only right that she apologised to him. She did not like to be at odds with Obi-Wan she realised, for it was a rare state of affairs between them, so much so that she felt unsettled by being in such a position now.

She told him of her decision to keep a line of communication open with Anakin, her belief that if she told his apprentice that they could not be together now, it would destroy him due to his grief over the death of his mother. She wrote of her resolve to keep the communication cordial, in the hope that when Anakin was ready he would realise the sacrifices he had to make in order to become a Jedi. She added her intention to find a grief counsellor for Anakin while he was on Naboo, along with a request for something similar to be found either within the Order or elsewhere within the capital when Anakin returned to Coruscant. She knew that Obi-Wan cared for his apprentice and would want to help him come to terms with the loss of his mother. She hoped that by including this it would allow Anakin to find some form of peace for his actions on Tatooine. His act of atrocity could not remain known only to her and himself. He needed someone else to help him come to terms with it, someone better equipped to help him than she. Knowing what he was capable of her terrified her beyond comprehension. And she knew that in the days to come of the Clone Wars, he would be forced to commit similar acts, though these would be accepted as part of the cost of conflict. If she were in such a position, as she had been when she fought the Trade Federation to take back Naboo, albeit without committing mass murder in the aftermath of grief, she believed that she would find it hard to reconcile the two notions without talking to someone who was qualified to offer counsel.

When it came to the end of the letter she finished with expressing the hope that they could talk soon so this dispute did not hang between them and make things awkward the next time they encountered each other. She added how much she disliked being at odds with him and hoped that he felt the same.

Once she was satisfied with what she had written she sent it off, feeling that a great weight had been lifted from her. Although it was a time of hardship for the Republic, she felt a little more content with her place within that conflict than she had earlier, before she came to terms with what Obi-Wan had said to her. She was not worried about how he would take her letter, she knew him well enough that he would not hold their dispute against her, nor would he treat her any differently the next time they met.

He was a good man, the kind of man that... she shook the thought away before she could finish it in her mind. It would do her no good to start thinking about another Jedi in that way. She had to open herself to other, more realistic possibilities.

THE END.