She would never tell him the exact day of her birth. He would beg and tease and she would simply smile and reply, "My life began the day I fell in love with you."
NABOO - THEED, LATE NIGHT
The powerful figure strode through the Naboo capital, grateful for the solitude the late hour afforded him. His eyes never left the ground beneath him, his senses staunchly refused to take in the beauty that was his wife's home planet. Perhaps if he didn't look around, didn't take it in, his presence might not stain the majestic capital.
His angel's home. Her final resting place.
Coming to the entrance of the Memorial Grounds, his steps faltered as he finally faced the presence of the looming monument before him. Behind his mask, his face went slack as he took in the beautiful shape of an angel, stretching its wings to the ethereal sky above. Once again, the familiar crushing grip of despair and loneliness wormed its way into his soul.
What was left of it.
He would bring her things whenever he could, always hoping he might accidentally hit the right date. He would shyly present her with flowers from the Jedi gardens, sparkling stones from his journeys to distant lands, and brilliant feathers from creatures she could only dream about. He would hand them to her, his grin brimming with love as he inquired about 'any recent celebratory events.'
Each time, she would take his gifts, smile knowingly and say, "Ani, my life began the day I fell in love with you."
He approached the graceful stone figure and bowed his head in reverence. His mechanical breathing was the only noise that filled the air, the nocturnal creatures having deserted him in fear. Finally his eyes drew up, caressing the inscription.
Padm? Naberrie Amidala
Beloved Queen and Faithful Senator
An angel returned to the stars
"Just tell me, love," he begged, running his hands through her hair. "We can celebrate; just the two of us!"
Smiling at him, she just shook her head in amusement, her voice running through his head like warm silk, "The date doesn't matter. Don't you see, Ani? My life began the day I fell in love with you."
His eyes closed for a moment, picturing his beautiful wife, her spiraling chestnut hair, her dancing eyes. He remembered the way she smelled, the intoxicating scent that was hers alone. It bespoke an aura of peace, tranquility? love. Things he was destined never to feel again.
There was a crackle of electricity as a transparent figure appeared before him. He stumbled back instinctively, his eyes flying open at the sound even as his lips formed her name. Padm?? She was carrying herself proudly, her slim figure swathed in traditional Senatorial robes. She looked not at him, but at a point beyond his shoulder. Calming his racing heart, he realized this was not a wayward spirit.
It was a holovid.
Dimly, he watched her beautiful lips part. The volume was muted due to the late hour, so he couldn't hear what she was saying, but he recognized it nonetheless. It was one of her most famous speeches, made to the Senate hours after an attempt had been made on her life. She had lost one of her dearest friends that day, but had gotten him in return.
And it had cost her.
Anakin watched the golden droid approach, his movements stiff yet welcoming.
"Master Anakin, sir... I asked Miss Padm? the question you posed..."the droid began, trailing off uncertainly.
"And?" Anakin prompted.
"She said to tell you, 'my life began the day I fell in love with you.' Does that make sense to you, sir?"
With a resigned grin, Anakin answered, "Perfectly."
Jerking back to the present, he saw the holovid change to a still image of Padm? in more recent times, her hair pulled up in a sophisticated twist, her sparkling eyes belying the stern expression on her face. He stood in complete silence and drank in every image of her until the final scene flickered forth, showing those beautiful eyes closed, locked behind her lids forever.
Moving of its own accord, his hand stretched forward to caress her cheek, perhaps in an illogical attempt to rouse her from her eternal slumber? but he reached into nothingness.
His eyes dropped in anguish, tears initially blurring the inscription he saw there. Kneeling, he traced his fingers over the words as they blazed forth in his brain.
Born unto the world on the 22nd day of the 3rd month in the Year 12022.
Taken from us on the 22nd day of the 3rd month in the Year 12049.
The last shred of peace he had stored away in his memories of her was ripped from him in a white-hot blur. He screamed, the sound so agonizing it wasn't heard by another living soul. He fled to his ship and fired up the engines with a roar, suddenly desperate for the vast anonymity of space. Ignoring his shaking hands, he pushed the controls to the max, sending the vehicle hurtling towards the sky.
The remnants of the vapor trail swirled across the lush grounds, gracefully solidifying into the shape of a woman. She was of another world, kissed by a golden light so pure it illuminated the Memorial Grounds. Strands of dark chestnut hair caught in her tears as she watched his ship disappear from view.
Smiling sadly, her image began to fade as she whispered, "Ani, my eternity will begin the day you return to me."
Original cover by Lyra Luminara. HTML formatting copyright 2005 TheForce.Net LLC.