One morning on Naboo, Padmé and Anakin share a tender moment.
When she woke, it was with a sense of something missing.
Opening her eyes, Padmé turned her head to find herself alone in the bed, and the door to the balcony open. She drew in a deep breath, let half of it out, and rose from the bed, grabbing her robe from the end of it as she did so. She slid the garment on but didn't tie it, and headed for the door.
Dawn had yet to arrive on Naboo, but the sky was tinged a faint shade of pearly gray mixed with pink. Anakin stood in the middle of the balcony, looking out over the water. The early morning light seemed to shroud him in mist, glinting off the metal of his golden replacement arm. Padmé studied him quietly, brown eyes taking in his figure as she stood in the doorway. His arms hung limply at his sides, and his eyes were closed, or so she imagined, since she was looking at his back.
"I didn't mean to wake you," he said softly, almost too softly, the words carried to her on the pre-dawn air.
"You didn't," she replied, just as softly, moving to his side but not touching him, not yet. "I woke on my own, and noticed you were gone. What's wrong?" She'd nearly asked him if he was all right, but of course he wasn't. He'd just fought the beginning of the Clone War, lost his right arm in a lightsaber duel with Count Dooku. She vaguely wondered if he'd ever again be like the little boy she'd met on Tatooine, just over a decade before.
"I was just . . . thinking."
The gears in his mechanical arm whirred as he raised it, and it caught the first of the sun's light as it came over the horizon. "This." He turned to face her, and she saw the heartache in his eyes, and it made her own heart ache in return. "And you. What you must think of me."
"I don't think any less of you because of that arm."
He shook his head. "Don't lie to me."
"I'm not lying to you!" she cried, angry now. "You lost that arm fighting a traitor to the Republic, a traitor who tried to have me assassinated. A traitor who was working to destroy all that we have fought so hard to build. Just because he bested you with a lightsaber doesn't make you any less who you are. Any less of a Jedi."
He flinched, and turned away from her, and her heart wrenched in her chest. "Anakin, I don't say these things to hurt you. I say them because they're true. I love you, whether you're a Jedi, or not. I love you, whether you have a mechanical arm or not. It's a part of you now."
He spoke without turning around. "Tell me it doesn't bother you. Tell me my droid replacement doesn't bother you, Padmé."
Now she did touch him, one hand resting on his still very-human shoulder, the other grazing along the metal of that golden arm. "It doesn't. What matters is that you're alive. You and Obi-Wan both. Dooku could have killed you then, as easily as Darth Maul did Master Jinn. Is that what you want? Would you rather be dead than alive . . . with this?"
He looked at her then, saw the tears sparkling in her brown eyes, and sighed. Some of the tension drained out of him, and he managed a small smile, raising his human arm to wipe away the tears collecting in the corners of her eyes. "Of course not. If I were dead, I wouldn't be married to you. I wouldn't have what I've dreamed about for ten years." His face softened, and he pulled her into his arms, placing a soft kiss on her forehead. "I love you, Padmé."
She relaxed into his grip, burying her face against the muscles of his bare chest. Blinking back tears, she whispered to him, "I love you, Anakin. I love you so much."
The sun had risen as they spoke, and its rays washed over them both, covering them in warm golden light.