By Izzy

“She’s dead.”

Anakin said this just before falling to his knees, bending over so that he was nearly on all fours, his head nearly knocking into the wall of the tiny passenger cabin in which he, Padmé, and Obi-Wan Kenobi had been hidden for the trip to Chandrila. He had spoken as a ghost, but a second later he was sobbing so loudly Padmé saw Obi-Wan glance at the thin walls in alarm.

Padmé did the only thing she could think to do, which was get down on her own knees and turn Anakin around so his face pressed into her breast and muffled the sound. She wanted to ask who was dead, but she had a good idea whom he was talking about.

It was Obi-Wan who asked instead. “Your mother, you mean?”

His first reaction was to sob louder, loud enough Padmé's whole chest shook with it; the tremors cut her inside like ice. He pulled away and forced his head to bob in assent. “After all they must have put her through...” He choked again, and buried his face back into her breast.

His wife looked at Obi-Wan and demanded, “Who’s they? What’s going on? Did you know something about who was holding Shmi? You told me you didn’t!”

“We didn’t,” Obi-Wan insisted.

“He’s telling the truth,” Anakin managed to inform her. “But someone must have been torturing her. I’ve been feeling her pain constantly almost from the time she went missing.”

“What?” She’d seen Anakin several times since then, but this was news to her. “And you never told me? No, Ani, look at me.” But he refused to, turning away when she tried to lift his head.

“So this never went away, then?” Obi-Wan asked, and Padmé started to feel her anger truly start to form at the realization that he’d known, and she hadn’t.

“Not until a few moments ago. It’s still echoing in me now. And to never know who was hurting her, what was happening to her...”

He was still shaking in her arms, and Padmé couldn’t really be mad at him right now after all. But now Obi-Wan looked strangely alarmed. “Anakin,” he said, “you don’t want revenge, do you?”

“Obi-Wan, not now,” Padmé protested indignantly.

“No, now, Padmé. If he is to keep you and the children, he must learn control at least. Let him go.”

She almost refused. It was an thoughtless impulse formed by rage that rose up in her and very nearly took control. It took her nearly a minute to slowly disentangle herself from her husband, who continued to kneel there, ignoring both of them.

But he could not ignore Obi-Wan when the latter firmly took his head in both hands and forced him to look at him. Padmé looked away. It was too painful for her to watch.

But try as she might, she couldn’t tune out Obi-Wan’s words to her husband: “Anakin, you cannot do this. You have taken on a duty to the galaxy, one that should have already demanded more than you were willing to give. We have made all the concessions we can.”

“And what if I refuse to continue?” On hearing this, Padmé found herself holding her breath. She couldn't say, either, that she dreaded his response.

“I don’t think you will.” Padmé had always thought the Jedi might suffer just a little from arrogance, Obi-Wan’s cool confidence truly shocked her.

And yet it was confidence well-founded. “You’re right,” she heard Anakin say. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. Be free of your grief and anger. They are imprisoning you. Keep looking at me, Anakin. Don’t be ashamed. Just know this is something you must do, and do it.”

Whether he did it or not Padmé didn’t think she’d know, even if she did turn back around then. That was a horrible feeling, the realization that she wouldn't even know what was going on. But she heard the sound of Anakin getting to his feet, and she took that as reassurance enough.