Fandom: Star Wars
Prompt: swficchallenge's #2011-05: Love ((originally posted here)). Also applies to fanfic50's #4 - Desperate.
Word Count: 988
Summary: Padmé plans a special evening for her and Anakin.
Author's Notes: Not as shmoopy as it sounds.
There was nothing to do but wait. The table was elegantly set with the good silver. The nerfsteaks, prepared just the way Anakin liked them, were kept warm under their serving domes. The rose-scented candles filled the room with sweet fragrance and a warm, romantic glow. Padmé knew everything was perfect, so she tried not to fuss too much with the flower arrangement, or to check her reflection for the hundredth time (still no hairs out of place)… but if she didn’t keep herself occupied, she’d surely pace a hole in the floor.
Anakin had commed her a couple hours earlier and said he expected to be here by 1900 – nearly an hour ago. Why had she rushed Dormé out the door so quickly? She could use some company while she waited, and the handmaiden had been a huge help getting everything ready. They’d giggled like schoolgirls preparing for a date.
I should just invite her back here to have dinner with me, Padmé thought glumly. It wasn’t like Anakin to be so late. Maybe some unexpected business had come up, and he wasn’t able to get word to her? (Really, couldn’t he steal away for one quick moment to message her on the secure channel?) At times like this it grated on her that she couldn’t just comm him herself. Like a normal wife.
Not that anything about their marriage was normal.
Did he truly not remember what today was? She’d been dropping hints to remind him, but he’d been so distracted lately. Sometimes she was certain he wasn’t even listening to her. Things would be different after the war… she hoped. In the grand scheme of things, it felt selfish to be concerned about their relationship when so many beings were suffering, dying – with no end in sight.
But she was only human. She did worry about the toll it all took on them. On Anakin. He was so sensitive.
Maybe he did remember, and… and he stopped somewhere on the way to buy her a surprise gift, and it took longer than he’d anticipated? That could be!
After a moment’s excitement at the possibility, Padmé dismissed this romantic notion. Her gut told her it wasn’t the reason. Her husband was slipping away from her and she was powerless to stop it. To whom was she losing him? The war… the Jedi… or to another woman?
Stop, she commanded herself. You love him and he loves you. Two years ago today you exchanged vows. That means something to Anakin and you know it. He deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Her comlink beeped and she nearly jumped out of her skin. Anakin!
“Ani, where are you?”
“Padmé… I’m not going to be able to make it tonight. Something’s come up. I’m sorry.”
Padmé swallowed hard and waited a moment to answer him. The tiny blue holoimage flickered before her: Anakin’s head was bowed, his shoulders slumped. It seemed like he was ashamed. She wished she had better Force perception (did that even work on holos?). “Oh. Are you sure? Could you come late? I could wait up…” She heard the desperation in her voice and hated it. This was her husband, she shouldn’t need to beg him to come “home” – not that her apartment was even technically his home.
“No, it turns out we’re leaving for Mandalore at 2300.”
“I thought you were going tomorrow?”
“I thought so too but… things changed.”
“But that’s still hours from now, surely you could—“
“No, the Chancellor’s summoned me tonight, I won’t have time.”
Padmé paused to absorb this information. She knew their time together would be brief – it always was. But he’d just returned to Coruscant yesterday and they hadn’t even seen each other yet (holoimages aside). And now the Chancellor…? “Anakin, if you’re coming to the complex anyway—“
“I’m not. I’m meeting him at the Opera House and leaving right after.” The shimmery blue figure sighed. “Look, don’t make this harder than it already is. I have no choice, okay? You know I want to see you but I just can’t.”
Did she know that? All she knew right now was that rather than celebrate their wedding anniversary, her husband would rather go to an opera with an old man -- if he was even telling the truth about that. Maybe they weren’t leaving for Mandalore tonight… maybe she should figure out a way to get the information from Obi-Wan… Wait, don’t I trust Anakin anymore? He’s never lied to me… that I know of…
“Padmé? I’ll make it up to you, all right? I gotta go.”
She didn’t need Force perception to detect his annoyance. She couldn’t help wishing he’d put a little more effort into his apology. He could tell her how much he loves and misses her and how his heart aches when they’re apart. He could tell her why he couldn’t refuse this strange evening meeting with the Chancellor at a social event. For whatever reason, he didn’t feel like talking to her now. Or having dinner with her… making love to her…
“I love you,” she told him with a forced smile just before his image disappeared. Had he heard her? He hadn’t told her he loved her. He hadn’t said it last time, either. Did that mean something?
The flames of the candles cast eerie shadows. Padmé was careful to blow them out before hurling them across the room. These were quickly followed by the flower vase, the wine glasses, and the nerfsteaks she’d slaved over with Dormé. It felt good to hear her anger and frustration culminate in a loud crash, but once she’d emptied the table, she found herself slipping to the floor in a sobbing heap. Might as well ruin her dress while she was at it.
She wasn’t sure how long she’d sat on the floor in the dark when the doorbell chimed.
((yeah yeah - I'm evil - but this way you can write your own ending! Who's at the door? Whoever you want it to be!))