By Izzy

Slipping into the Yelnina quarters on Coruscant hadn't been too hard. There was a belief amoung most the members of the household that the new daughter-in-law brought less than dignified friendships with her, and when Padmé, her voice disguised, introduced herself as a friend of hers, the servant didn't even ask her to remove her hood, but disapprovingly escorted her to the young couple's chambers to wait for their return; they were out. He made no remark either about her being dressed like a member of the Silent, though perhaps he genuinely didn't recognize the garb; he looked young.

Padmé knew, although it seemed that the servant did not, that they would in fact be unlikely to come back before morning. She hoped they didn't, for their sake as well as her own. She felt more pity than anything else for Moré and her new wife, living under the thumb of such a man as Aros Yelnina.

Even if while waiting ten minutes for the servant to return to the door and hopefully more or less forget about her, she couldn't help but notice how well the two girls alone lived, better than Senator Okiltine did. Like the Senator they had four rooms, but they were bigger, they had more things, and those things were more expensive and more comfortable. She spent several minutes sitting in one of the armchairs, just letting her back sink into the most comfortable surface it had known in a long time.

The quarters had a highly advanced heating and cooling system as well. One which had been built more for efficiency than security.

The vital ingredients for the bomb were all wafted up by the simple measure of turning up the heat. She unscrewed the grating and they tumbled out and onto the floor.

She hid them in the folds of her cloak and moved silently through the Yelnina quarters. Aros Yelnina had locked his private study, but it wasn't a very expensive lock, and she easily hotwired through it.

Inside, she put the bomb together, set the timer for 2509 hours, enough time to cover any delay of Osic Excenil in arriving for the planned meeting, put the whole contraption in a metal sleeve, and put the sleeve away in a desk drawer. She had to trust that Aros Yelnina wouldn't bother looking for it. Or that the meeting wouldn't be cancelled or postponed or held early.

Really, there were a thousand things that could have or gone wrong, and a thousand things that could still, and part of Padmé was desperately wishing that one of them would, even though the consequences would be so disastrous.

But deep down, she knew better. There was something, she didn't know what, that made her absolutely sure that this would go exactly as she and Motée had planned.

There weren't even any complications when she left. She passed the same servant on the way out and told him apologetically that she couldn't stay any longer, but would be back the next day, and didn't feel any need to leave a message.

It had taken longer than she thought it would; when she stepped outside, the daylight was almost gone. She flagged down a taxi and got into it without speaking, holding her money out in front of her.

"Member of the Silent, eh?" asked the driver. Padmé nodded. "Take you to the hospital?" She nodded again.

The ride to the hospital took only five minutes. The Silent had a special dropoff point near the entrance where they kept datapads with directions to give to taxi drivers for outgoing destinations; Padmé cleared one such datapad she'd been carrying and left it on the top of the pile; she passed a true Silent as she left who immediately picked it up.

She passed through the hospital and out the back entrance, then started climbing downwards. It took her half an hour to get to where she'd stashed her handmaiden robes. She threw the Silent robes over the edge of the deserted platform, and hoped they would fall very far. Then she started walking.

She was just low enough that it was possible to walk some way, though these particular platforms were seldom used. She kept one hand on a feeble lantern and the other on a blaster pistol, ever ready to shoot at the first sign of movement, but she ran into noone before she reached the edge and started climbing. She climbed down, then walked further. She climbed up, and up, and up. She kept little mind as to where she was going, and in fact refused to think about anything at all.

She emerged onto a lightly populated platform, where denizens had parked their vehicles. A few of them glanced oddly at her, but they couldn't be bothered to care much. Nor did they look back much as she dumbly followed them.

They turned out to be going to a residential area, one that looked dull and dark, and made her grateful that she didn't live in it. But it did, at least, have lift access to the planet's upper levels.

The lift ride was long and inefficient, and probably didn't do the residents much good. But at a little past 2400 hours, Padmé emerged in the middle of a brightly polished, no doubt prosperous commercial district, where she again flagged down a taxi.

It was a little past 2430 when the taxi dropped her off at her apartment complex, where she was not so surprised to find Anakin Skywalker waiting for her.

A week ago she would have asked him why he was there. Now she knew better. He came, and he gave no answers, so she'd stopped asking questions, though with each visit she wondered why more and more. Surely he didn't...

"What's wrong?" he asked her when the taxi had left.

Then Padmé realized that there was one fatal flaw in her plan. It was impossible for her to deceive Anakin. If she kept quiet for now the assasination might go off as planned; in fact, it would, but once word of it reached him he'd know it had been her.

She hoped people would believe her and Motée(because it would be no use trying to lie to him and claim she wasn't involved) when they would say that Senator Okiltine had not even known what her handmaidens had been planning. Though given how limited their contact with her was, and all carried through the Jedi, he ought to. They were in no danger; either the Queen or Palpatine himself would pardon them as soon as it could be done quietly; that was how it was always done with handmaidens. But the Senator's reputation would be ruined, and Anakin would no doubt never speak to her again.

It was too late to undo it, though, so she only said, "I don't want to talk about it now. I'll tell you later."

"All right," he murmured into her ear, wrapping his arm around her and leading her back to the Senator's quarters. The warmth of his breath was painful.

She couldn't have him make love to her. She'd practically be defiling him. Just the thought made her feel ill. But she was too weak to send him away.

"Anakin?" she said when they entered Senator Okiltine's quarters. "Tonight, do you think you could just hold me? Nothing else?"

"If that's what you want, of course."

Not wanting to face him, she lay down turned near the edge of the bed. Without comment he lay down embracing her from behind, his head settled on her neck.

Inevitably her eyes fell on the chronometer the Senator kept in her bedroom. It read 2440. Had she remembered it was on this side of the room she would have lain herself on the other side of the bed, but now she couldn't bring herself to even move her eyes away.

The chronometer changed to 2441, than 2442, before Anakin asked, "Worried about the Senator? I'm afraid we've heard nothing further."

"That's okay," Padmé replied, hoping he wouldn't try to talk anymore.

But when it was 2443, he then asked, "Are you crying, Padmé?"

"No," and she wasn't either.

"You're trembling, though. Padmé, what's going on?"

"I can't tell you yet. You'll know soon enough."

That kind of statement was enough to silence him until 2449. Then he suddenly began to hum and rock her gently. This nearly was enough to make her cry after all, but her eyes were wide and unblinking, staring at the chronometer. 2450 now. Aros Yelnina had to have come to his study by this time.

"I would almost think you were sick. You feel feverish."

"I'm not. Probably." 2451.

"I know." Then silence again, saving for his humming.

"Stop that. Please." He did. 2452.

At 2455, Padmé finally forced herself to close her eyes. A rivulet of tension left her body at this, enough for her to feel Anakin hugging her closer. But not knowing the time made things worse, and she opened them again just in time to see the 2459 turn into 2500. Right at that very moment, Osic Excenil was supposed to be entering Aros Yelnina's private study.

Then Anakin started talking again. "I think they may send us out again soon, Padmé. I'll miss you. I hope we'll be able to see each other again."

Maybe if he was lucky it would be within hours, before word reached the Temple. That would make things easy enough for him.

That thought made Padmé unable to listen as he continued talking. She focused her attention on the chronometer. 2501.



"...don't get me wrong, Master Obi-Wan is a great mentor. As wise as Master Yoda and as powerful as Master Windu. I am truly thankful to be his apprentice. Only..."

As she realized what Anakin was saying, Padmé turned her attention back. What had she just missed?

"I think I'm ready for the Trials. In fact, I know I am. He's holding me back and he won't even tell me why, not really. He won't tell me anything, and he won't listen either. It's not fair..." When had his voice taken on such an angry tone?


"Mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we like," she commented absently. "It's the only way we grow."

"But he doesn't see what's happening to me. He doesn't understand. Nobody understands." He was on the verge of whiny, but Padmé really didn't care that night.

Silence again. 2505.

"Anakin, I'm in love with you."

"What?" He pulled up and forced her to turn over. He looked shocked.

She laughed bitterly. "I just wanted to say it out loud. It doesn't mean I expect anything more from you, but...I truly, deeply love you, while we're still here, together, I want you to know."

Then at last Padmé had no sense of time, no sense of fear, no sense of anything but his eyes staring into hers, still incredulous...and awed.

At last his head fell back onto the blanket, and Padmé found her eyes again drawn to that cronometer. 2508.

"Padmé..." Anakin started again, and then the chronometer changed one last time.

They were far away from where the crime she had committed was now taking place. In this part of Coruscant, the night remained undisturbed.

But Padmé, unable to bear it any longer, suddenly turned on Anakin and kissed him hard, rolling herself on top of him and nearly pinning him to the bed, and yet he kissed her back.

Then she pulled, and he rolled them over, and she whispered into his ear, "Make it rough, please. Make me feel it."

"As you wish," he whispered, and he bit into her neck, running his hands hard over her body. He was familiar enough with it to arouse her quickly; soon enough she was wet enough to take him in. As she'd asked, he was rough, driving her into hard enough almost hurt, and she tilted her head back and let herself cry out as she took it, she who was too weak, after all, to deny herself the chance to make love to him one last time.