One of the more generally accepted Episode III speculations is that Padme dies, and Anakin turns because of her death. What if, with Padmé's death, something else happened? This was written to leave the reader with a feeling of unreality, hence the title.
Days like these feel so dreamy, as if the clouds took the harsh light of reality away, and left nothing but the lingering of true existence in the faint shadows. Sometimes I treasure moments like these. I take long walks along the streets of Theed, breathing in the fresh air, heavy with the scent of rain that may or may not fall. Other days I see those shadows, and I am reminded of what I've lost.
Some would say it's ironic, I suppose, that today is a day with clouds. Palpatine is dead; the New Order is in chaos. Wouldn't such a day be full of light? Today it was officially declared that the 'Old' Republic lives again. I suspect Palpatine's New Order won't disappear entirely - there are too many that followed its ways, too many worlds that would have to be punished, too many people that would have to die for their crimes. It is a pessimistic thought, but I know it's true. My idealism . . . my optimism . . . are lost to me, as are so many other things.
Surprisingly, Obi-Wan understands. I think he knows more than I originally thought he did about the events in my life, when he was not there. When I first told him my thoughts, my fears on what the future could bring, there was no surprise in his eyes. He agreed that the New Order would not disappear, that there would still be battles to fight - but this time, in ideas and law, not in the battlefield of life and death.
And when I avoided speaking of a certain politician known for her integrity and honor, he said nothing. He merely touched my shoulder, reached out with his thumb for the spot where my padawan braid once hung, and nodded sadly. I could see the sorrow in his eyes, and at that moment I realized that somehow, he knew of us, knew of our relationship. And he grieved for my loss.
I am not celebrating our success. I suspect I am not the only one. This civil war has cost too much, taken too much, for many of us to simply bask in the joy of victory. Those losses stay with us, as quiet whispers on our shoulders, reminding us of our grief and our reason for going on.
I treasure those little whispers in my ear. They are the voices of my dead family: my mother . . . and my wife.
I remember holding her in my arms, her head lying on my shoulder. She looked up at me, and she was quietly gasping for air. It seemed so silent, as if the world held its breath. I looked into her eyes, those soulful brown eyes, and saw the clouds reflected in them. She couldn't speak. The wounds she had suffered from the surprise ambush near the Senate building were so severe she could not summon the breath. I could not look away from her face. I did not want to look away. The other dead and dying - her guards and her companions - did not matter to me, then.
I once claimed I would defeat death. But as I held her in my arms I knew I couldn't, and that I never would. Her death just seemed to come in an inevitable slide towards nothingness. So I looked into her eyes, that brown touched with a hint of cloudy gray, and told her I loved her.
I told her I had pledged my life to her . . . and that I had also, in my heart, pledged my death to her. It was all I could say, the only way I could express how much she meant to me. And I think she smiled for a moment. It was hard to tell, through the blur of my tears. In that moment I wanted to rage and get revenge, but instead it passed away, along with the last remnants of my idealism, when her life grew fainter.
There was no sudden loss of life in her eyes. It was a gentle subsiding, like a breeze slowly fading. You don't know it's truly there until it's gone.
I had given everything for her - for my Padm?. I had pledged my life and my death - and that did not mean I would die to be with her or merely murder her killer, but that I would live to do her will. For the rest of my days, to my death, and after, whatever is beyond this life.
I fought Palpatine, my former mentor, because she would have wished it so. I brought her body to her family, because she would have wished them to be able to grieve. A body would make things final, instead of the wondering that her going away and simply not coming home would cause. I stayed with the Jedi, because she would have wished it - because she believed what the Jedi did was better for the galaxy than any corrupt government. And as I stayed, as I did her will, I began to truly realize the wisdom of my wife. I no longer feel the restrictions of the Jedi. I know that some of their ways are wrong, but I accept it. I accept that changes, even for Jedi, do not come easily or quickly. I think Obi-Wan knows this, too. He has more of Qui-Gon's insight and rebellion in him than many would think; he's just subtler about it.
Then there is politics. Padm? is no longer a moral voice in a place fraught with ambition. She cannot be. So I have done as she would have wanted, and I am that voice . . . as much as I can be. There is no one like my Padm?, and she can never be truly replaced. I will go, after this walk, and return to the new Senate, to the Jedi Council, and try to get things done. I will attend meetings, and speak out as necessary, as a dutiful Jedi would, and as others will in the process to repair and replace what is broken and gone. I will be here for the reconstruction of the Republic. I will do what is right, until the time comes that I no longer need worry, because I am with her.
I know what my Padm? would ask of me, because I hear her whisper in my ear. Whispers of memories, of conversations long since passed, of the strength of loyalty and the gentle look that went along with it when she spoke of such things, and of the joy she had with her family.
She would want me to be happy. She would want me to move on. But I am happy, as long as I have her whisper in my ear.