"To be angry is to be human."
"I'm a Jedi. I know I'm better than this."
Those were the last words spoken between us, not but a few hours ago.
I now lie awake in one of the guest rooms at the Lars' moisture farm on Tatooine. My eyes have been wandering aimlessly over natural patterns and pictures on the clay walls. I see faces that hold happy expressions. I see children playing and couples that have dreamy looks. But maybe they're not really there. Maybe it's just my mind showing me what I want to be shown. Or my heart. I've never known, being in politics, if I should listen to my mind or my heart.
I sigh and roll toward the wall. I should listen to my mind and not think so selfishly. Anakin is in agony over his mother right now. In agony about what he did. I am in awe that Ani could ever do such a thing. Master Yoda's famous words play over in my mind, Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.
But, I know that pain is the root of it all, and that is what Anakin is in now. Not only have the Tuskens suffered, so has my Ani. And he's probably sleeping as well as I am tonight because of it.
A small, half-oval window is positioned about three feet above me. It over-looks the small courtyard of the farm. I close my eyes for a moment, enjoying the cool, pale moonlight leaking through the window.
The moment passes quickly, and Anakin evades my thoughts, yet again. I can't even begin to comprehend the pain he's in at this very moment. I just wish there was something I could do to help. I don't understand why, but it breaks my heart to see him in the smallest bit of distress or pain.
I let my thoughts carry on as my eyes begin to flutter shut at another attempt to sleep. I squeeze the corner of my pillow as I feel my eyes become hot. Why am I in so much pain? A quiet voice answers, Because he is in pain.
My eyes snap open and I quickly wipe away the tears. I begin to take deep, controlling breaths. Should I go to him? No, I can't. I can't make things anymore complicated than they already are.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see the curtain hanging in the doorway flutter. I pull the blankets tighter. There must be a draft in this room.
I start to close my eyes again, when I hear soft footsteps enter my room and draw near. I figure it must be C-3PO and I instantly pretend I'm asleep; I'm in no mood to be bothered, by anyone. Unless?
But then, I feel a hand on my shoulder. It doesn't feel cold like metal, but warm and human.
Curious, I open my eyes in question and turn my head slightly. A dark figure stands over me. My heart leaps in girlish hope that it is who I want it to be. I turn my head more to see. The figure moves slightly, falling into the stream of pale moonlight.
I am breathless. My throat is so tight. My eyes search his face. He looks troubled beyond repair. His eyes hold defeat and his face shows signs of sleep deprivation. My own probably does as well.
For several moments, we are silent, and I dare not breathe. I'm afraid the slightest move will make him disappear. Why don't I want him to disappear?
Anakin blinks a few times and casts his gaze to the floor as he sits down beside me. Feeling sure he will stay, I sit up and begin studying his face. He still looks down and I long for those summer-sky blue eyes to gaze upon me.
"I'm sorry I woke you," he says quietly, and then looks up. My lips part to speak. I want to gather him in my arms and never let go. Instead, I remain still.
"It's okay?I couldn't sleep anyway."
"Neither could I."
I then become very aware of the way he's looking at me. It's the way he always looks at me. Those eyes burning into me that make me feel so naked and exposed.
His eyes wander over my face, my rich, brown curled hair, my neck, my arms, my hands. With my own eyes, I follow the same motion over him, not knowing exactly why. His hand moves to mine and takes it gently in his own. His touch sends a spark through me, and my heart wants to burst. I curl my fingers around his in understanding and comfort.
Anakin begins in a weak voice as his gaze falls once again. "I miss her, Padme. As soon as we're together again, I lose her." I swallow hard, knowing there are more meanings than one in that statement.
"She'll always be with you." I answer quietly. He looks up quickly and my heart begins to race. And then, I wonder if I intended two meanings as well. As I look into his eyes, I know he is wondering the same thing.
His grip tightens on my hand, "Promise that you'll never leave me, Padme?as a friend." He adds quickly and I know he has just remembered our decision about not falling in love.
I breathe in, trembling. I don't want to go through another painful conversation again. Our first discussion was hard enough. Why? Why are my feelings for him so complicated?
"I promise," I say suddenly, and I mean it; I mean it with all my heart. In this world or the next, I don't ever want to lose him. I then hug him quickly. I have to give in, just this once. There is no harm in a hug.
I feel so safe, so protected in his arms. I press my ear against his chest and hear his heart beating-racing. And I know perfectly well whom that heart beats for. Is he as afraid as I am? Is he afraid of crossing that line? No, Anakin has never been afraid of me, I know that, he has shown that clearly through his actions.
"Padme?" I feel his voice resonate against the side of my face.
"Hmm?" I mumble, loving the gentle hands moving across my back.
"--Can I stay here tonight?" He asks awkwardly. I can see he feels on dangerous ground. I can see he doesn't want to upset me.
I pull away quickly and try to speak, but my voice has died. I don't want to object. This is my chance to help. This is my chance to temporarily end his pain-to end my pain.
Swallowing all uncertainties, I nod slowly and peel the covers back. He looks at me in astonishment. I can't help but feel the same; after all, I did say things in our previous discussion that would go against what I'm doing now.
Anakin slowly slides into bed beside me and pulls the blankets around us. Feeling nervous, I sink down on my back and try my best to stay to one side of the bed and not touch him. And I wonder if he's doing the same in order to respect me.
"Now I can sleep," I hear him whisper, and it sounds so much like 'thank you'.
I take a deep breath to control my emotions and reply almost inaudibly, "So can I."
I don't know if he heard me, but I don't care either way. I'll leave it to the fates for him to know what I said. I find myself drifting off and I finally feel at peace. I finally feel calm. And as I fade into sleep, I remember back to my last morning on Naboo, and Anakin telling me, "Your presence is soothing."
I smile, content that my presence has again soothed his pain, for now.
Oh Ani?will we ever be truly happy?
The question drifts away as sleep comes over me.
I awake wrapped in warmth. The golden light of morning has filled my small quarters. Being contained in the minute space, the light reminds me of happiness that has never gotten the chance to break free, but as the suns continue to rise, the chance of the light escaping increases. I can't help but feel this room is so much like my heart ever since Anakin re-appeared to me.
I then realize, other than the rising suns, that there is another source to this warmth. I am wrapped in Anakin's arms, and my head lies gently on his chest. I can feel his chin resting against my hair, and I find comfort in the gentle rise and fall of his breathing.
Should I pull away? No, a voice yells at me. Being like this, I have forgotten all my worries. For the time being, everything feels so perfect and serene, and my pain has disappeared with the stars. I will stay like this for now, for it may be the last time we will ever be so close and may be the last time I will feel so at ease.
I know now that as long as Anakin is around, I will be at peace. As long as he is around, I will be happy?even if all we can be is friends. I ask myself why and fight back rational feelings from the mind. With confidence, from my heart, I tell my mind that I love Anakin-that I have always loved Anakin.
With my arms still around him, I squeeze tight.
I will never let go of you, Anakin Skywalker. I will never leave you. Ever.
Original cover by Lyra Luminara. HTML formatting copyright 2003 TheForce.Net LLC.