"Wha-want?" Padm? had no idea a person - a Jedi - her husband - could make such a loud, inhuman sound! She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to fall back into her pleasant dream. When she shifted, his arms tightened around her.
"Ani! I swear, if you're awake . . ." She sighed deeply; now she was sure she had lost the trend of her lovely dream. She knew her new husband was a restless sleeper, but for some reason, she hadn't expected Anakin to be someone who snored.
Maybe she still had so much to learn about him.
She did know quite a bit already, though. And there were so many things she loved about him. He held her close when they slept. He kissed the skin at the nape of her neck to wake her. He loved her with more force than she had ever imagined. He was the most wonderfully complex man she'd ever known. But he snored like an animal.
She would have the rest of her life to learn everything else about him. His various quirks - even the annoying ones - would soon become natural pieces of a mosaic mental picture of her Ani. She smiled and snuggled back against his hard, warm chest.
Maybe he didn't snore like this every night. Maybe he wouldn't do it again tonight.
"Or not," she muttered sleepily, her voice gaining clarity. She still gallantly fought the urge to open her eyes. To insulate herself from that noise, she tried to burrow her head into the pillow. "Are you my husband or a wild bantha?"
Almost like he was answering her question, he let the noise loose again, "Grrrrowthla. Shleeeeep. Snowrl."
"He's a bantha," she muttered. She tried to disentangle herself from the prison his strong arm had created. He wouldn't move! No matter what she tried! Squirming, cajoling, whispering seductive nothings, kissing anywhere her mouth could reach . . . Nothing! If anything, his mouth was almost right next to her ear, and the feel of his warm breath against her skin sent delicious shivers down her spine!
She decided to change tactics. "Ani?" Her sleepy voice held a seductive quality, one that would get his attention, even in his sleep.
His only answer came again, "Snowrl. Growp. Grrrrowthla."
"Anakin!" her voice came out in a low growl. "You woke me up! Prepare to die, bantha." A diabolical smile spread across her face. "And I know exactly how to do it. Where's your lightsaber?"
He answered, not with the horrible snore, but with his sweet, deep voice. "It's right there on the floor." He paused for a moment. Then he pulled his hands away from her small body and cocked his head to the side, seemingly deep in thought. "Wait, you're going to kill me?"
Padm? giggled. "Yes," she declared, nodding her head resolutely. She scooted away from her husband, now that his arm was no longer a prison.
He narrowed his eyes even further, confusion evident in his every movement. "Why?"
"Why what?" she asked innocently. She took his flesh hand in hers and traced aimless patterns over his callused skin.
Anakin brought his new artificial hand to trace random shapes on the smooth skin of her bare back. "Why do you want to kill me?" he asked innocently. His eyes were still half closed, but she could see a hint of mirth there. "What did I do? I think I was asleep."
All thoughts of homicide faded away; even if he was a bantha, he was her bantha. She ran her hand across his bare chest, mumbling, "You sound like a sick animal when you sleep."
He scrunched his face in confusion. "An animal? What are you talking about?" His voice held a hint of laughter, betraying his serious fa?ade.
"Ani, your snoring woke me up! It was disgusting!" She tapped his chest with her finger, trying to emphasize her point. Then she leaned in and placed a chaste kiss on his lips.
Her husband backed away and shook his head quickly; at the same time, he brought his prosthetic hand up to tangle in her long, curly hair. "A Jedi doesn't snore," he declared.
She raised her eyebrows skeptically. "Are you sure? You were making noises . . . I've never heard anything like them! Not even from my sister's pet shaak."
"I couldn't have been snoring." He shook his head seriously. "Wait, your sister had a pet shaak?"
"When we were little." She shrugged. "It was a just a baby shaak. Don't try to get out of this, Anakin Skywalker!" Then she tilted her head and launched into the best impression she could, "Grrrrowthla. Shleeeeep. Snowrl." She finished the last word with a laugh.
He scrunched his face in disbelief. "What was that?"
"You!" She leaned in and planted a kiss on his contorted lips.
"It couldn't be! A Jedi doesn't snore! We are in perfect control of our emotions and physical functions at all times. I couldn't have made that . . . noise!" His voice was full of righteous indignation.
"Ani, I couldn't have imagined that sound." She leaned down and placed a trail of kisses across his hard chest. "Maybe you're just not like any of the other Jedi." Instead of letting him answer, she continued, "But maybe that's what I love about you."
His lips turned up into a sly grin. "Is that all you love about me?"
She rolled her eyes in protest. "I am not going to make a list of all the things I love about you!"
"Please?" His lower lip jutted out in a pathetically un-Jedi-like pout.
Padm? let out a mock-frustrated sigh. "Fine." Her hand followed the line of his pectoral muscle down his chest. "I love the way you look when you sleep - so innocent, so helpless, so cute . . ."
"Cute! I'm not cute!"
"Sorry, I forgot. Jedi aren't supposed to be cute." She twisted her mouth into a pout. "All right, then you're very handsome when you sleep."
He nodded. "Thank you." He placed a soft kiss on her cheek.
"And you let out an intimidating growl . . ."
"Hey! That makes me sexy!"
She rolled her eyes and looked up. "Sexy?"
Anakin shrugged. "Of course."
"If a bantha is sexy . . ." She let her voice trail off and she ran her lips along his jawline.
"Have you ever seen a bantha?"
Padm? pulled back to look into his eyes, and shrugged. "Sure. On Tatooine."
"On Tatooine? You couldn't have come close enough to a bantha to know what it sounds like when it sleeps!"
She sighed, and suddenly her voice took on the quality she used in her political debates. "Do you know what a bantha sounds like when it sleeps, oh wise Jedi husband?"
He let out a deep laugh that turned into a guttural grunt. "I'll show you a bantha!"
Before she knew what he was doing, he had pulled her down on top of him. She squealed delightly when his flesh hand trailed down her back; she leaned down and pressed her lips hard against his. If this was what a bantha did when it woke up, she wasn't going to argue about the snoring!
She found herself surrendering to his every ministration. Their lips fused together over and over again, stopping only for split seconds to bring air into their lungs.
If this was the way she would wake up every morning, she wasn't going to protest.
His hands had moved up to cradle her face, and she couldn't believe the contrast in the way the two hands felt against her skin when his thumbs gently stroked her cheeks. One was so cold and hard and the other was warm and soft. Both held so much power and so much strength, but were extremely light and tender in their touch. Both were such essential parts of Anakin, she couldn't decide which she loved more.
She shivered involuntarily at the pleasure that coursed through every part of her body.
He moved his metal hand down to her back and pulled her even closer to him. She felt herself slip into a crevice in his chest; it was almost a perfect mold for her body. She had never felt so safe and secure. No matter what happened in the universe around them, she and Anakin would always have this comfort together.
"Padm?, love," he whispered into her ear.
"What?" she murmured.
She jumped away from him and pulled herself into a sitting position. "You! You were awake the whole time!" Her jaw dropped and she stared at him maliciously.
"No, I wasn't."
"You're teasing me!" She wasn't sure if she should be relieved or upset.
His eyes danced merrily. "Am I? I would never tease a senator."
"Oh, you wouldn't?" She gently slapped his chest. "A Jedi doesn't snore!"
He grabbed her hand and brought it to his mouth, planting a chaste kiss on her palm. "I would tease my wife."
"I thought so." She huffed haughtily.
He brought his hands around her back and tried to pull her back down onto his chest, but she fought to stay upright. "You're not really upset, are you?"
"I guess I'm . . . thankful you're not really half Jedi, half bantha." The corners of her lips turned up into a reluctant smile, and she allowed him to pull her onto his lap.
He let out a deep laugh. "I thought you'd be pleased, m'lady." His lips connected with hers, softly, but they held a demanding urgency.
"You're forgiven." She pulled back, put her fingers against his lips, and whispered, "I love you, my Jedi Bantha." Then, all her conscious thought surrendered to the feel of her husband's careful touches and mind-numbing caresses. She allowed her mind and body to surrender to the euphoria of her newfound love.
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