Categories > Movies > Star Wars > Becoming Love: I, In You: The Rise of the Clone Wars

Prologue: In the Lull Before the Storm: Fateful Questions and Replies

by Polgarawolf 0 Reviews

SUMMARY: What if Senator Padmé Amidala had refused to go into hiding on Naboo, during the events of AotC and a scheme were instead hatched that involved sending Dormé Tammesin (the Senator's only...

Category: Star Wars - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Romance,Sci-fi - Characters: Amidala,Anakin,Obi-Wan - Warnings: [!!] [V] [?] - Published: 2008/06/16 - Updated: 2008/06/29 - 6670 words

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Author’s Warnings: 1.) This is an AU not only of AotC but of my SW AU series in progress, You Became to Me. This is conceivably what could have happened in that 'verse, if Padmé had refused to allow herself to be bullied into agreeing to go into hiding on Naboo, during the time line of events for AotC. This story therefore is not fully consistent with the events of You Became to Me as it has been written so far (as should be fairly evident, considering that AU series centers about an Obi-Wan/Anakin pairing!) and, though it is essentially consistent with materials written and/or planned for that AU series prior to the time line for AotC, should not be taken as a part of that series! 2.) This story is pretty much LJ user cariel's fault, for encouraging me to try my hand at Dormékin. (But LJ user cariel's fault in a good way! If you enjoy the story at all, thank LJ user cariel! And if you don't like it, well . . . then blame me for still being new to the idea of both Dormékin and Sobiwan enough to seem to be unable to do either one quite straight out – especially, apparently, Sobiwan – not LJ user cariel for making me aware of the ships pretty much in the first place!) I doubt this is what LJ user cariel was expecting, but . . . I have at least attempted to make it plain that the Dormé Tammesin of this AU is essentially an AU version of LJ user cariel and LJ user bloodraven77's Dormé Jaffa. Similarly, readers should assume that Sabé Dahn is an AU version of LJ user cariel and LJ user bloodraven77's Sabé Nabish, though I doubt that this will be made quite as clear, given that Dormé is the main female protagonist of the story. Though she isn't really an AU version of the Padmé Amidala Naberrie Kenobi of LJ user so-out-of-ideas and LJ user aruna7's wonderful ongoing AU series One Path (which is essentially an AU rewrite of the timeframe covered by the six-film saga and a combination of fanfic, vids, and icons/manips that can be found, for interested parties, at LJ user shipper_asylum), readers should please keep in mind that, as in my AU series You Became to Me, my concept of Padmé Amidala as a character and of her relationship with Obi-Wan has been influenced by LJ user so-out-of-ideas and LJ user aruna7's Padmé (though they might very well shoot me, for combining their Obidala with LJ user cariel and LJ user bloodraven77's Sobiwan, even though I've arrived at that combination from a beginning initially uninfluenced by either LJ user so-out-of-ideas and LJ user aruna7 or LJ user cariel and LJ user bloodraven77, which involved an intimate relationship between Padmé and Sabé while they were growing up. My Sobidala actually started with Sabmé/Padbé/Sabédala [whatever you want to call it! I'm not aware that this ship has a specific fanon name] and grew to incorporate Obi-Wan after I had become aware of the Sobiwan and the Obidala ships). 3.) I don't foresee this AU rewrite of AotC taking much more than maybe two months to finish, at most, and it might even take less, since I'm being laid off at the end of this week, so if fans of You Became to Me would please refrain from rioting, I would dearly appreciat it, since this plot bunny has basically eaten my brain alive! 4.) This being what I consider a canon-based (and canon-tight, insofar as the basic natures of the characters are presented) AU, it is entirely possible that several scenes from this story will bear a striking resemblance to certain scenes in TPM and AotC, especially the novelization of AotC by R. A. Salvatore. 5.) Lorn Pavan, Jax Pavan, and Darsha Assant are EU characters largely from the EU book /Darth Maul: Shadow Hunters/. Let's just say that the events recounted in that story turn out a mite bit differently in all of my SW AUs than they do in that particular book. 6.) This story does not have a beta - I've proof-read and checked the grammar, but I won't swear that there aren't any typos!
Author’s Notes: 1.) There are two different non-Basic languages that occasionally come into play, in the speech and thoughts of my Nabooian characters. One is the Gaelic-based Nabooian originally from my You Became to Me series (which is, by the way, closely related to the Gaelic-based languages also spoken on Alderaan, Chandrila, and Grizmallt, in that SW AU series, and so also spoken on these planets in all of my other SW AU work) and the other is the Akkadian-based Uriashian of LJ user cariel and LJ user bloodraven77's various different Dormékin and Dormé/Vader AUs. If the meaning of anything is unclear by context, please ask me what a specific word/phrase means (with example from the text), and I promise I will clarify, though I may occasionally have to ask LJ user cariel for help (as most of my Uriashian has come directly from her)! 2.) Italics are generally used in this story for one of the following reasons: to denote a voice over a comm or other recording of some sort; to convey special (emotional) emphasis on some words; to set off words in another language; to denote a character's thoughts or shared/telepathically overheard thoughts; and/or to signify the words of a Force ghost or spirit or other entity of the Force. 3.) The cast of EU/original characters for this story is essentially the same as for my series You Became to Me (though there will be some eventual unique additions). Please see the posts listed at the bottom of my most recent update on that series for links to my lists of cast characters, handmaidens, Nabooians, etc., at http://polgarawolf. livejournal. com/115467.html for specifics on these casting choices! 4.) I have a journal entry with a running list of costumes/images that work as "illustrations" of such for the story, over at http://polgarawolf. livejournal. com/119841.html and, when the story is completely done, I will likely go back and either create specific entries with links for each chapter or include the proper information on costumes and such for each chapter in that chapter post.




Star Wars
Becoming Love: I, In You

The Rise of the Clone Wars


Prologue: In the Lull Before the Storm: Fateful Questions and Replies

1,000:02:06-1,000:05:12 After Ruusan Reformations (25,001 After Republic’s Founding), 141-24 days prior to the Battle of Geonosis

Even the smallest of acts, the simplest of decisions, are capable of sending ripples of change throughout the galaxy. The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.
– Padmé Amidala Naberrie, former Queen of Naboo and Senator for the Chommell Sector, from private papers dated prior to the Battle of Geonosis



Dormé recognizes the distinctive chime of the comm unit that acts as her major lifeline to Anakin from three rooms away and immediately hurries her steps, almost running through the chambers of her permanent suite of rooms at Theed Palace to reach the bedroom, where the holocomm unit, with its powerful receiver and transceiver, is kept. A few minutes later, slightly breathless, she reaches out with a smoothly practiced motion to hit the receiver button that will trigger the play of the incoming hologrammic signal through the holocomm’s holoprojector, even as she all but simultaneously enters the signal field of holocomm’s holorecorder and triggers the button that will begin recording and beaming her image and voice along the S-threads of the HoloNet’s complex array of satellites, which, being designed to relay and boost such messages through hyperspace simutunnels, allows for real-time communication from far flung distances all across the galaxy. Anakin’s form promptly flickers into blue-tinged hologrammic existence, in miniature (about a fourth of his natural size), projected in the air roughly at her eye-level, above the receiver. Although it’s somewhat difficult to tell, on a flickering hologram all in shades of blue and eerily blue-washed tones, her first thought is that Anakin looks drawn and tired, almost wan, and so, after ascertaining that, yes, he and Master Kenobi are both alright, and that, yes, the mission was indeed a success, she bluntly asks, “Are you having bad dreams again, Anakin?”

“It’s more like /still than ‘again,’”/ the hologram of Anakin sighs in reply, rubbing at his eyes wearily, as if he hasn’t been sleeping well and feels as if they are full of grit.

Dormé is concerned enough by his tone of voice that she doesn’t try to keep herself from frowning. “What will it take to convince you that you should tell Master Kenobi about these dreams, Anakin? If they’re truly prescient – ”

“Oh, yeah, sure, because that will go over so well!” Anakin rolls his eyes, openly scoffing at the suggestion. “‘Master, I keep having these dreams where my mom turns to glass and then shatters into a million blood-soaked pieces, and I’m really worried that something bad is going to happen to her. Can we drop everything and hijack a Temple ship and go to Tatooine, to check up on her, and never mind that it’s against the whole /no attachments rule and the Council will likely toss us both out on our sorry behinds, when we come back?’ I can just hear the lecture, now! No, thank you! I think I’ll do without!”/

“Anakin . . . ” Dormé can’t help but to sigh herself, at that. The fact that Master Kenobi keeps in such close contact with his apprentice’s mother that he routinely exchanges holocomm calls with Shmi after nearly every single one of his and Anakin’s missions is supposed to be a secret, mainly because it would almost certainly infuriate the High Council beyond reason if they knew that Anakin had been in any kind of contact with his mother – even if the contact was all secondhand, through his Master. Yet, these recurrent dreams of Anakin’s (at first occurring only once or twice every other week but now coming with increasing frequency – and, from Anakin’s exhausted manner and snappishness, increasingly disturbing detail) are, frankly, beginning to frighten her – they feel like true warnings of danger approaching, not mere night terrors, to her – and the lack of sleep seems to be affecting Anakin badly. She can’t remember seeing him this agitated since the aftermath of his kidnaping by that horrible Zan Arbor /sibbu/, and his ill-tempered reference to lectures has the tone of one who’s earned several such lectures already – something she can only imagine to be due to the lack of sleep affecting either his judgment or his reflexes or both. Milady might skin her alive, if she knew Dormé was even thinking of revealing this secret (which Dormé is privy to only because she knows so much about both Senator Padmé Amidala and former Senator Sabé Dahn’s lives, and it is impossible to be so familiar with them without also knowing many such secrets and details about Jedi Knight and Bendu Master Obi-Wan Kenobi’s life). It’s not Dormé’s secret to share, not her decision to make, and most certainly not her place to question the validity of the need for such secrecy. But Anakin is so obviously suffering – ! Perhaps, if she merely hints . . . “Anakin, you do know that your Master has resources he doesn’t necessarily share with the Temple – resources that he may keep to himself, for your own safety. Perhaps if you approached him with this matter with the serious that it deserves – ”

Anakin only scoffs at her again, though, rudely cutting her off. “So I can be told to stop dwelling on the future, in fear, and to live fully within the present moment, instead?”

“So you can perhaps get some help in getting some real reassurance that your mother is safe and sound and being mindful of her continuing health and safety,/ without/ the High Council ever being the wiser!” she instantly and rather irritably snaps back, probably more bluntly than she should have, even given the nastiness of his mocking tone. And then she /knows/, for sure and certain, that the lack of sleep has to be affecting him, because he merely looks at her blankly for several long moments before scowling darkly.

“Master Kenobi isn’t going to agree to take me to Tatooine, even if he could manage to arrange transport without the Temple knowing about it. He /hates deserts!”/

“Anakin . . . ” Dormé manages (though an act of sheer will) to resist the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose (thereby signaling that he’s giving her a headache); it has been a very long and tiring day, though, and so she doesn’t quite manage to keep herself from half growling his name in growing irritation over his obtuseness. “You do know that there are other ways of gathering information from a distant location without actually physically going to that place, right?”

She regrets the rather pointed quip when he merely looks at her blankly before quietly noting, “My mom can’t exactly send or receive letters, Dormé.”

Guilt over the note of hurt in his voice thoroughly suppresses the sigh that would like to escape over his continued failure to catch any of her hints. He really must be suffering from lack of sleep, to be so slow to catch on – a fact that only makes her feel guiltier, for snapping at him. “Anakin, /kalal/, /we /don’t communicate solely by letters.”

Unfortunately, the face Anakin makes, at that, and the way he huffs at her, tells her that he’s beginning to feel some of her earlier exasperation, not that he’s taking the rather obvious hint she’s trying to give him. “Well, she can’t send word through Sabé, either!”

“/Ma’chara/, are you getting any sleep at all?” she demands, concern winning out over exasperation, frowning as she peers at his image, trying to decide if he looks ill or merely tired.

He merely pulls back in on himself, recoiling as though she’s offered him a mortal insult, and gives her a frown back that’s darkly suspicious. “Why?”

“What are we doing right now?” she merely gently asks back, refusing to allow herself to be goaded by either his suspicion or his snappishness.

His frown deepens to a scowl that gradually fades into a look of blank confusion. “ . . . talking . . . ?”

“By . . . ?” she asks, tilting her head encouragingly and tilting a questioning eyebrow.

He stares at her blankly for another few moments before the proverbial light globe seems to go off. Then, “Holocomm? But Tatooine is in the Outer Rim! And my mom – ”

“Your mother helped some powerful people in a time of desperate need, Anakin,” she quietly reminds him. “And your Master is close personal friends of the leaders or ruling families of and major political powers on /dozens /of planets, including Alderaan, Chandrila, Grizmallt, and Naboo. Can you see where I may be heading with this?”

/“You – you think Bail – or Mon Mothma – or King Gryna and Queen Silviana – or Padmé or Queen Jamillia – you think they could have seen to it that my mother was freed? And you think that my Master would have convinced someone to see to it that she has access to a working holocomm unit?” /he hesitantly asks back, frowning a little bit still, half in confusion and uncertainty, half in sheer thoughtfulness over the suggestion.

“Perhaps. Can you think of a reason why it would be a fairly closely guarded secret, if he had arranged for those things?” she asks, shamelessly leading him to the proper conclusion.

Anakin instantly nods, at that, flatly declaring, “The Council. They’d never tolerate it.” He doesn’t even try to hide his bitterness or his contempt for the Council Masters, and she can’t really blame him, all things considered. “Obi-Wan has more compassion and more honor in his littlest toe than that entire damned Council has. He’d figure out a way to do it just because it was the right thing to do – because Qui-Gon /should have made sure she’d be free and safe and able to keep track of me enough not to worry, and he didn’t, and because Padmé would have wanted to do it but been unable to justify doing it, at least at first, when so much of Naboo was suffering, after the Trade Federation’s blockade and invasion and occupation – and he’d keep it from me for my own good, to protect me from the High Council’s disfavor. He does that a lot. Sometimes I think he’s rearranged his entire life, just to protect me,”/ he adds, sighing, scrubbing his hands restlessly across his face and up over his short hair, bowing his head slightly, shoulders momentarily slumping with tiredness. When he straightens to look up at her again, his expression is solemn, but there’s a smile of pure joy and relief lurking at the back of his eyes. “Thank you, Dormé. I know you probably weren’t supposed to ever tell me this, but thank you. Now I /know she has to’ve been alright, all these years. Obi-Wan would never have let her be anything but safe, and free, and well cared for. I’ll tell him about the dreams. Tatooine can be dangerous, even for those who are free and familiar with the planet. He’ll make sure she’s alright and knows to be extra careful, at least for a while. And I’ll be careful. I promise I won’t let anyone know that I know about him keeping in contact with her.”/

“Good. I’m glad to hear that, Anakin. I’m sure Master Kenobi can help you. You’ll tell me, when they start to go away, right?” she asks, just to make sure he knows she wants him to keep her informed, smiling a little in relief both at having been able to give him some comfort and at his promise to help keep the secret. Anakin is nothing if not honorable, and so she knows that it would take an actual catastrophe to get him to even consider breaking his word to her. She trusts him not to get either himself or her in trouble, with this information.

He grins back, in such a way that she knows, absolutely, that an enormous weight has been lifted off his shoulders./ “I’ll tell you if they go away or get any worse. Promise.”/

Smiling, she unconsciously leans a little closer, teasingly promising, “I’ll hold you to that, Anakin. But enough about dreams and promises! How have you been? What was the last mission really like? Are they talking about sending the two of you out again, or will you be in the Temple for awhile, so you can get some rest?”

Anakin shrugs easily, still smiling a little. “Oh, you know, it was a mission. It was fairly easy, for once, which is probably good, because otherwise I might’ve gotten us both into trouble. But there was really any fighting at all, and it was actually kind of dull. I even heard Obi-Wan grumble once about how an actual diplomat would’ve been better suited to the task than Jedi. The Council’s making noise about sending us out again in about a week, but until then we’re supposed to consider ourselves on leave. Sabé’s supposed to be by at some point, before she goes back to Naboo again. Are the two of you trading off, or something?”

“Milady’s really ruffled some feathers, fighting this proposed bill to recreate a standing military. Sabé’s worried about her safety. She’s coming home to try to convince Milady to take more precautions, on this tour of hers to garner support enough to attempt to block the proposal, before they can make it an actual bill and raise the question in open forum at the Senate. Some of the worlds she wants to visit . . . well, they aren’t precisely known for being safe or peaceful. I appreciate the help, the tell the truth. I can’t get Milady to listen to me,” Dormé admits, sighing tiredly as she recalls the failed attempt (one of many) she only just made this morning, to try to convince Padmé to avoid a few of the more dangerous worlds.

“Padmé can be stubborn, sometimes, I know, but don’t worry. I’m sure Sabé will be able to talk some sense into her. She’s probably coming by to see Obi-Wan to get tips on what to say, so Padmé won’t be able to keep conveniently ignoring the fact that she won’t be able to do anything, about this proposal or any others, if she gets herself seriously injured. I’m sure it’ll all work out fine,” Anakin quickly reassures her, his voice and manner softening in response to the slump of her shoulders. Gently chiding, he asks, “How about you? Are you getting enough sleep, /sakiana/? You look a bit tired. You know, you won’t be able to do anything to help anyone, if you’re too tired to fight or think straight. I have that on very good authority, you know. Why, Obi-Wan was just reminding me of it the other day.”

“Oh, well, if Master Kenobi says so, then I suppose it must be true,” Dormé laughs in response to his gentle teasing, touched by his concern. “Nisaba forbid I should ignore any advice from the Bendu Master! I promise I shall retire early, tonight, and sleep in for a long as I can, in the morning. Will that suffice, do you think?”

Anakin rubs at his chin thoughtfully, mimicking a gesture he’s seen his Master often make, and then (seriously, but for the sparkle of humor in his eyes) acknowledges, “As long as you take it easy for the next few days and be sure to get a good night’s sleep each night. He’d probably want you to go take a nap, now, too, but it looks like I caught you on the way to the sparring halls.”

“Just from there, actually,” she hastily explains (wincing mentally and hoping that it’s just that she’s slightly windblown from hurrying to answer the comm and he’s recognized her sparring clothes and put the two things together to arrive at the conclusion he obviously has, and not that she actually looks as if she came from a long session in the training salles). In response to the questioning tilt of his head, she then adds, “I was supervising a training session Cordé and Versé were having with some of the other girls They truly are the most talented couple we have, Anakin. I’m extremely proud of them. I’m positive that Cordé is easily as good as I ever was, at being Milady’s decoy, and Versé is nearly as good, and a born teacher, besides. It’s made things much easier for the rest of us, since we’ve been stretched so thin, these past few years, ever since Jamillia was elected Queen, what with helping to find and train her handmaidens as well as new handmaidens for Milady.”

“I’m glad things are working out so well. Though I think you’re underestimating how good you were, when you were Padmé’s primary decoy. You and Sabé are the only ones who’ve ever been able to fool a Jedi into believing you were Amidala.”

Dormé knows the makings of a challenge when she hears them, and her lips twitch and slowly begin to spread themselves in a smile that ends somewhere between a triumphantly evil smirk and a challenging grin. “Give Cordé a chance to meet a Jedi who doesn’t know Milady well. I wager she’ll be able to carry it off.”

“Oh, /really/?” Anakin grins back, stretching out the word until it sounds more like it has about half a dozen syllables instead of just two. /“And what do you plan to wager?” /he asks, raising an eyebrow and folding his hands together in a gesture she’s long come to recognize means that he is hooked and willing to play through to the end.

She narrows her eyes in consideration. “I shall win another sketch from you, for this, I think. No . . . another series /of portraits. Padmé. Sabé. Obi-Wan. Perhaps Bail and Mon Mothma, as well,” she adds after a moment’s silence, her smirk relaxing into a small, thoughtful, purely delighted smile at the inherent humor of winning something of a full set, in a way, in this manner, though she instantly dismisses the notion of explaining her sudden, quite genuine amusement to him. If Anakin doesn’t know by now that his Master collects the loving hearts and devotion of those who surround him in the same innocent, purely natural fashion that a sunnydew flower gathers keets and flare-wings, then she /certainly is not going to be the one to tell him!

“I don’t know why – you’ve won hundreds of sketches of Sabé and Obi-Wan and Padmé off of me already, over the years! And anyway, I was asking what you had to bet, not what you think you’re going to claim!” Anakin protests with a good-natured laugh, though a slight hint of a half confused, half petulant frown flickers momentarily in the shadows of his eyes when he moves his head and shoulders slightly back, away from her.

“I offer the same as always, just as you end up paying in the same coin as always, /kalal/,” she merely grins, enjoying herself entirely too much to care if she makes that frown come to full blown fruition, knowing as she does that she’ll be able to chivvy him out of the frown in short order if it does appear. “I bake more of my flat sweetbread to send along to whomever else is already there and to you and Master Kenobi, every time Sabé or I travel to Courscant. One of us will be on Coruscant at some point when you and Master Kenobi are in residence, after we know for sure which of us is right. If you win our little bet, you get a doubled ration.”

Anakin makes a face that’s so scrunched up that it’s all she can do to keep from bursting into laughter at the ridiculousness of it. “Hrumph. I think I should get a triple ration, if I’m going to be wagering against five portraits.”

She permits herself a sunny smile, though her jaw and her chest ache with the effort of repressing laughter, waving a hand airily as she offers, “You can always draw some of them together,/ ma’chara/. I’m sure their natural habits would make that fairly easy. Padmé is the only one you’re unlikely to see with anyone else, unless you find a shot of her on the HoloNet with Bail or Mon.” Anakin isn’t allowed to see or speak or interact in any way with Padmé Amidala. It’s one of the High Council’s rules, to keep him from feeling any kind of attachment to her that might be comparable to the attachment he still has for him mother, given Anakin’s high regard for her and the fact that they were thrown together under extremely stressful and dangerous circumstances (something that often leads to the formation of strong bonds of friendship and even love among individuals). The fact that Padmé actually keeps in such close contact with Obi-Wan that they are required to schedule visits and their own holocomm conversations around Anakin’s training schedule and other such duties and activities is yet another of the secrets that Anakin is technically not supposed to know, though it was not a secret that they kept from him for very long (on rather forceful advice from Dormé, who’d noticed that Anakin was increasingly curious and even worried about where his Master went, on the days when Anakin would return from classes to find Obi-Wan gone from the Temple, and was worried he might get into trouble, snooping, trying to figure the puzzle out on his own). All of Anakin’s sketches, his drawings, his paintings, of Padmé Amidala are either from memory or else from images clandestinely (or at least carefully enough to keep from drawing the High Council’s notice) found on the HoloNet.

Anakin, who’s used to that deception, just wrinkles his nose up at her suggestion and rolls his eyes with comically exaggerated disgust before heaving a hugely gusting sigh. “That just means I’d have to draw Obi-Wan over and over and over again, because he’d be at the center of every single such gathering. I swear, if I didn’t know you better, I’d think you had an ulterior motive for collecting so many sketches of my Master, Dormé,” he half laughs at her, his humor paradoxically easing her need to laugh.

She simply offers him a small, negligent shrug, serenely replying, “He’s your Master,” only silently adding that he’s also the man who carries the hearts and souls of the two women most dear to her in all the worlds of the galaxy. (If Anakin hasn’t figured out that yet, then she’s going to need to be face-to-face with him, to try to explain it!) “That’s reason enough for me. Now, about that nap you wanted me to take . . . ”

Anakin snorts good-natured laughter, rolls his eyes again, and throws up his hands. “Alight, alright, already! I get the picture! Five portraits. I won’t promise they won’t just be charcoal sketches, but five portraits – which I don’t think you’ll get anyway, so it’s no skin off my teeth to agree, now, is it? No need to give me that little smile of yours that says you know something I don’t and that you’ve won! All you’ve won is a lecture by proxy about the need for good sleep habits and a promise I’ll talk to Obi-Wan about my dreams. Nothing more.”

Her lips twitch rather violently, at that, and she is smirking by the time she has finished replying. “So you say. But you’ve said so many times before. And I seem to remember I’ve ‘won hundreds of sketches of Sabé and Obi-Wan and Padmé’ alone off of you, over the years.”

“Only because you cheat!”

She just flashes him a smile and declares, in a voice that somehow manages to be both prim and sweet, “It isn’t cheating to make sure you only take the risk and bet when you’re nigh on convinced you cannot lose, /kalal/. It’s just an act of simple precaution.”

“Gloating is unattractive, Dormé.”

The seemingly dark tone has a lilt at the back of it, so she just grins impishly, noting, “I wasn’t gloating, merely making an observation. Now, as much as I love these little talks – and I do love our talks, Anakin. Thank you for comming. I was beginning to wonder if the mission might be running longer than it was supposed to or if I should worry that something had gone wrong – I think you’re in need of having a little talk with your Master and I’m in need of a little nap, so I’ll be able to respond to my lecture by proxy as Master Kenobi might expect one properly reprimanded about the necessity of keeping good sleep habits to do.”

Another eye roll, and then he laughs a little and gives her one of those dazzling smiles that should probably be classified as a dangerous weapon. “Force forfend you should fail to respond to the lecture with the proper amount of seriousness! I’ll comm again, to let you know how things go, before the Council sends us anywhere else, alright? And make sure you actually do take that nap and at least try to get some more sleep, alright? Otherwise, I’ll fuss and whine until Obi-Wan agrees to come on the comm and give you the lecture himself!”

“I’ll behave and get more sleep, I promise! No need to get Master Kenobi involved!” Dormé hastily promises, utterly aghast at the very notion that he would drag his Master into one of their holocomm conversations and knowing that Anakin would do it in an instant, no matter how mortified she would be, if he truly thought she might be endangering herself, given that he knows how his Master can reduce her to tongue-tied, stammering, schoolgirl blushing obedience (though she doubts he realizes that effect Knight Kenobi has on her is half due to her awareness that, in her eyes, and according to the oldest customs and traditions of Naboo, he is essentially betrothed to both her sworn Lady and her mentor, and half due to her profound embarrassment over the way the feel of him, in the criosanna teinedíait – that vast shining sea of love, and life, and light, which the Jedi insist on naming the Force – pulls at her like a tide of the sea, making her want to do little more than to slide down into the waters of his eyes and simply allow the elemental strength of that tide to take her where it will. She resists that lure, of course, and she imagines that a great deal of the devotion and loyalty and love Obi-Wan Kenobi so effortlessly gathers, in his wake, is quite often due to the sheerly mesmeric strength of this allure, its power such that it affects even those not particularly attuned to the energies of the criosanna teinedíait – and which is, as Sabé and Padmé have both often noted, even more powerful, for him being so wholly unconscious of it. This phenomenon – which is as much a natural part of him as the color of his eyes – is similar to, if vastly more compelling and more powerful than, the bewitching, naturally soothing yet energizing feel of harmonic resonance and synchronicity/completion of Sabé, but whereas being in Sabé’s presence simply makes Dormé feel more herself, being in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s presence quite literally makes her feel caught up in a current, swept along like a twig in a stream of rushing water, and, while she does not necessarily begrudge him having so obviously received such favor from Nisaba as to possess all the light and power and gravity of a sun, she is discomfited by her own seeming loss of control. He is the beloved, the /am’chara/, of her mentor and her Lady, their shared /cariad o’nhgariad /and f/íor grá-mór/, and a Jedi to boot, not someone whose eyes she should be imagining falling helplessly down into, for Nisaba’s sake! It disorients and shames and cows her, a little, to sense that tidal pull of his spirit-light and respond almost as helplessly as a woman might to the endlessly enticing presence of a lover, rather than the presence of the one who keeps the hearts and completes the souls of both Padmé Amidala Naberrie and Sabé Dahn, who refused to take on a regnal name, as was her right, according to custom, either when she became interim Senator or was elected to the Senate proper, but was given one by the acclaim of the people anyway, though she refuses to answer to it, to Kandala. Being made to endure one of his lectures would likely leaving her shaking and near tears and alternating between a full-body blood-red flush and ashen pale bloodlessness. Dormé, though, is certainly not going to tell Anakin that, either – no, not even if she is face-to-face, with him! Let him believe she’s merely shy, for once. It’s much easier that way. Things are already complex enough without her adding to them willfully.)

He smiles at her again, softly, sweetly, and quietly promises, “Then I’ll let you go get some sleep. Sweet dreams, Dormé. I’ll comm later, when I have more news.”

She returns the smile before telling him (as she always does), “You take care of yourself, Anakin. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.”

“I will. And if I don’t do a good enough job, you can be sure that Obi-Wan will – or that he’ll see to it I start doing so,” he replies, his soft smile transforming into a wide grin.

“I’d prefer it if Master Kenobi didn’t have to lecture you about that, again.”

His grin widens, flashing his teeth. “I’ll see what I can do about that. Anakin, out.”

Out of habit, she smiles back and echoes him, “Dormé, out,” even though he has already reached out for the switch that will stop recording and beaming out his image and words to her. Then, with a sigh, she reaches up and gently massages her aching temples. Nisaba bless, how did things ever get so complicated? she wonders, sighing again, tiredly. She knows that she does not love or even truly desire Master Kenobi (not in the manner that Milady does, that Sabé does, not in the way that a woman who has truly found the missing piece of her soul, the mate of her heart, does). But she worries, sometimes, that perhaps Anakin might (she can’t get a clear read on him, on what he feels for his Master, how strong that adoration of Obi-Wan runs, just from letters and data missives and messages carried by Sabé and occasional holocomm talks), and she has no idea in the worlds how to break it to him (if he hasn’t already figured it out) that if Obi-Wan Kenobi ever actually rescinds the vows that hold him to the Jedi Order, it will be to Naboo, to Padmé and to Sabé, he will go. If he doesn’t know it already, then someone is going to have to tell Anakin – and preferably /soon/. But she’s not nearly brave enough to attempt it, not when she has no idea how to begin to tell him or how he might react, and certainly not from the kind of distance that can only be bridged by holocomm. So she sighs, and massages her aching head a little harder, and, carefully turning her thoughts aside from this troublesome puzzle, turns towards her bed, hands reaching for the obi sash holding the silky, patterned green material of the short kimono of her sparring gi closed ast the waist, for once perfectly happy to put off tending to any of her other duties so that she can lose herself in sleep’s quiet embrace, even if only for a little while.

Dormé has a bad feeling that she’s going to be getting precious little sleep, in the weeks to come, given Milady’s absolute, unwavering determination to block and/or defeat the proposed Military Creation Act. Best to get as much sleep as she can, now, while she is still able to do so.

*****

Obi-Wan smiles at Bail Organa as he accompanies the Crown Prince of Alderaan through his apartments, back towards the room where the communications equipment is all kept, and Bail feels as if the sun has descended from the skies to shine solely on his face and form. “I truly do appreciate this, Bail. I know you’re very busy this time of year and I just spoke to Shmi a few days ago and these holocomm units are expensive to maintain and operate. Anakin has been s
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