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When I am Afraid, Comfort Me

Chapter Text

Coruscant is always the busiest in the time of twilight, when the golden rays of its sun crack open the secrets of the planet’s layers, the new angles lighting up paths and sights that otherwise lie hidden for most of the day in the deep rifts of endless buildings and tunnels.

 

It is the time when the day’s workers go home, when the politics and sober trade markets shut down, and the endless night life just begins, and the cacophony of their meeting in the air creates such traffic and a buzz that can only be felt in the capital of the Republic. Right now, Padmé doesn’t care for the sensation; sitting in the back of her senatorial speeder, she stares sightlessly out over the vista of bustling billions and worries one hand in her other.

 

Her worry is simple. Uncomplicated.

 

Anakin has not come home yet. He was due back on Coruscant two days ago, she learned from Obi-Wan Kenobi, who only looked at his feet and regretfully told her he could say nothing more under orders from the Council. She sensed he risked much telling her this alone, so she thanked him and pressed no further for answers. She could tell Obi-Wan was stressed too, under his Jedi façade.

 

No more answers from him, at least, but she has another friend, someone high enough in the Republic ranks to maybe know something the other politicians don’t or can’t know. This is why Padmé finds herself flying back to 500 Republica and not to her own apartments. Palpatine has agreed to meet with her, though she’s held the real reason back over their communications. Senate business is all.   

 

She remembers the last time they spoke, in the Senate chambers just two days ago, less than a week since… Padmé blushes alone and embarrassed in the back of her speeder. Since the Mistake, which is what she calls it even though her body aches with the memory of the locker room and his wiry form against her soft curves. Since that day, she has felt fuller, almost glowing with simultaneous satisfaction and guilt, and licking, flickering tongues of arousal at the worst possible times.

 

Like two days ago, when his polite baritone rocked her to her core and brought the sensual memories raging back into her mind when she really should have been focusing on the grant of refugee funds he had managed to scrounge up for her corner of the Senate building, for Naboo. He is wonderful, and she is grateful, she truly is; his ability to rally supporters from all political parties does wonders for her pet projects sometimes. She has come to rely on him in the Senate, to get things done when the rest of the galaxy only wants to bicker and point fingers and tentacles.

 

Some of the tabloids protest favoritism, but Palpatine is the wiliest of politicians, and he leaves no loopholes or chances for their suspicions to ever gain traction in the real media, in serious conversations. Every time he supports her, he does it by proxy, through other deft hands and smiles, but she can sense his master craftsmanship in the results.

 

He knows how to get answers, which is why she is flying to meet with him. It took some work, convincing him to speak with her privately in his apartments, but she feels this conversation could be devastating if overheard in the less secure Senate Building (she tries to forget what they actually *did* in the Senate Building, thank the Force no one caught on to that…they've been very lucky). He’s withdrawn since their last coupling, becoming more formal and aloof, and she fears that he is afraid of what might happen to his career if their affair becomes known. They play together when making love, imagining what it might be like for someone to discover them, but in reality…

 

In reality it would be devastating to both their careers. Palpatine has been a rare example of a scandal-free worlds-leader, and this would bring shame to his House like nothing ever whispered about his late father, Cosinga Palpatine. She can’t do that to him. Won’t. He is a dear friend, and nothing more.

 

Why not, a traitorous part of her whispers.

 

Padmé swallows back the fear and allows her quiet strength of determination to take over, offering a silent breathed prayer to Shiraya. She only wants to talk to Palpatine this time, to see if he has heard anything of Anakin, if he can use his power and influence with the Jedi Council to discover the truth of the matter. To learn if the mission is compromised, or, or… She can’t bear to think of the alternatives. Palpatine will be able to help, even if he can only provide his level-headed advice, his quiet concern.

 

He will help her. He always has.

 

Shivering and hunching against the seat, Padmé waits until the speeder settles completely down onto the tarmac of the private landing pad, which has extended from the side of 500 Republica and now tugs her ship into its dim hanger, shields activating the instant her speeder gets within range. She glances out the side. The hanger is filled with an assortment of security vehicles and technical equipment. Two red-robed Senate Guards stand at the entrance to the lifts on the far end of the bay, their crimson helmets gleaming under the single light like blood.

 

The sight pulls Padmé back together, puts the steel back in her spine that she has always been able to draw upon in the worst of circumstances. The blockade. The arena.

 

Pushing the vivid memories of pain and tearing skin, snarling teeth, too many glossy black eyes out of her head, Padmé climbs down from her speeder and waves away the helping hand of a fully garbed Senate Commando, his young face peeking through the gap in his helmet. “Thank you,” she says quietly, and he nods back to her with a quick, professional jerk of his head, his movements quick and nervous.

 

She wants to smile encouragingly, but it would be rude. He has work to do, and to his eyes, a pretty senator trying to turn his head would not be received well. So she returns a solemn nod and walks past him to where the Red Guards are silently waiting. Always so silent. It unnerves her and makes her wonder why Palpatine has them. They are not anything like Naboo has ever seen before. 

 

The lift ride is quiet and awkward, especially when she tries to make small talk with one of the guards after several minutes of silent travelling up to his apartments. “So… you make this trip often?”

 

He – she?– makes no reply, and Padmé sighs under her breath.

 

She is grateful when the lift slows and stops, doors sliding open to reveal the sterile small room ahead, the security quarters and back entrance to Chancellor Palpatine’s private residence. Padmé soothes a shiver under her skin at the thought. Palpatine moved to a new apartment since the days of his senatorship, to an unspecified location in 500 Republica for security reasons, and she does not even know what floor this is. She wonders if he has changed any in his sense of style. 

 

His office at the Senate is awash with red, a violent, controversial, bold color in Naboo’s long history. Red is both the passionate declaration of love, of war, of life and death. It means two halves of the same currency, duplicity and brutal honesty.

 

Red also means warmth, the warmth of a mother’s womb and the warmth of coursing blood. Palpatine has always been drawn to red, even early as a Senator, and Padmé often wonders why. She thinks of his apartments when she fled Naboo as queen, how the walls and furniture were draped in red. Maybe someday, she will be bold enough to ask him. Most Naboo shun open displays of the color red in their homes, since it is such a volatile color and they are such a peaceful people. His personality doesn’t seem to match it either, but Padmé is unsure if she should ask.

 

The Naboo are a private people, and Palpatine falls on the extreme end of even that spectrum. He has always coveted his personal affairs, and Padmé blinks and pauses when she realizes just how true that is. He rarely talks of himself or his history, his family. They were lost in a tragic starship accident while he was away as a student in Naboo’s mandatory political program, that’s all she really knows, and no one ever talks about it other than to use it to explain away his quiet nature.

 

She remembers one article in the tabloids she and her sister read long ago, how Palpatine was only a youth when it happened, either 15 or 17 years old, she can’t remember now. Suddenly, with everything that has passed between them, she wants to know more, though she knows she shouldn’t. The path she is going down is dangerous, for her and him and Anakin.

 

There’s no time to think about it anymore, because the Red Guard has palmed open the door to the apartments, and she is stepping through into a dimly lit living room, done up in shades of greys and reds, and she is surprised to see that his red décor is more muted here than in his office.

 

“Hello, Padmé.”

 

Padmé starts and her heart threatens to leap out of her chest at the low greeting. Palpatine is sitting on the long sofa at the far end, encased in the shadows that play along the edges of the room, his lean figure barely escaping the gloom. His eyes though, reflect the light straight back at her, and the Senator feels a shiver trace down her spine like slender fingers.

 

“Chan-Chancellor,” she stammers. “I didn’t see you there.”

 

Smoothly setting down the glass of red wine in his left hand, he rises and glides toward her, hands now folded in his sleeves and looking every inch the graceful and reserved politician the galaxy has grown to trust. “My apologies, my lady. Much is on my mind tonight, and I was… distracted. You look well.”

 

She wants him to say lovely, she wants him to reach out and brush his lips across the back of her fingers like the nobility of Naboo do. Instead, she smiles and smooths the front of her low cut gown. Too low cut, what was she thinking? That isn't why she came. Isn't it? She clears her throat. “No harm done, Chancellor. Thank you so much for meeting with me tonight. I know your schedule must be terribly crowded.”

 

Palpatine smiles, an upward twitch of his thin lips that quakes her worse than she expects. “Anything for a friend, Padmé. It was arranged easily enough. Will you come in, have a seat? I can bring you a drink if you should like.”

 

Padmé thinks of the war, of Anakin missing for days, of kissing the man in front of her, and yes… yes, she needs a drink right about now. “Thank you, Chancellor,” she says quietly. “I’ll take you up on that offer.” It will steady her nerves, give her the strength to discover the truth. 

 

His pale blue eyes narrow in pleased consideration, and he beckons her forward.

 

She goes to him.

Chapter Text

The Force works in mysterious ways sometimes, but Darth Sidious has never seen fit to let this excuse rob him of his inevitable victory. His ability to sink into the currents of its mercurial whims allow him to move with the tide, to shape and mold the lives of trillions with no more than a word here, a bargain there. Eventually, the galaxy will be his.

 

Yet, somehow a small slip of a woman has managed to bring him reason to pause, however briefly.

 

He studies the square of her slender shoulders as she speaks to the Senate in the recording from only this morning, her normally soft brown eyes narrowed in determination and a tinge of despair. He knows what she was thinking: How could the Senate be so callous to the needs of the galaxy? How could decent beings let others wither under the harsh blows of their Separatist taskmasters? Cruel invaders of all that is good and holy.

 

Sidious allows a gentle smirk to grace his thin lips. Ever since he took her under his political wing, training her in the ways of politics, she has been an open book to him. Padmé Amidala is naive and optimistic; beings like that are easy to understand.

 

Easy to manipulate, in part because they never see it coming.

 

No, he admits, smile turning wry, freezing the holo in place with a flick of his long fingers just as she plants her pale hands on her wide hips in righteous indignation against the senator from Malastare. Not easy. Not her. Not even for him.

 

He thought so, once. And now things have changed in the Force and in her.

 

Sitting perfectly still on the low couch in his living room, Sidious shuts the holo-recording down with a twitch of his power, the wine glass held loose in his hand, forgotten and insignificant, the taste draining from his tongue to be replaced with the faint memory of her. She reminds him of a fine vintage wine, strong around the edges and liquid to the core, malleable and sharp, a tangible pleasure on the eyes and lips.

 

Relinquishing his control on the physical world, Sidious sinks deep into memory, somewhat at a loss how this dark attraction came to be. He easily remembers her years as the young girl when he was senator, when she was a mere princess of Theed. He remembers how simple it was to teach her enough politics, give her enough support to drive Veruna in shame from his office as King, along with the assistance of multiple scandals.

 

Then, she was only a child, beneath his notice and blindly following him. She thought him a dear friend; he thought her laughably simple to manipulate and lead. She had such pure ideas, such hopeless idealism.

 

His opinion of her changed when the invasion of Naboo occurred. Padmé blossomed into a strong willed young woman, defying both the expectations of her people and his cultivated advice. She became an annoyance in his side, a useless puppet with snapped strings, though she had done enough.

 

He is Chancellor now, thanks in large part to her righteous fire. How wonderful that thought still is… How wonderful it might be someday to make her fully aware of her role in the twilight of the Republic, but not yet… not yet. Hold the beast in reserve, he cautions himself sternly.

 

His annoyance with her continued to grow as the Clone Wars drew near and she continued to carve her own path into the history of Naboo and the dying Republic. As senator, she survived multiple assassination attempts, all at the behest of his apprentice Count Dooku who warned Sidious that she would only be trouble in the future. Sidious simply listened, but inside he knew the time had not yet come. She would not die when her role in turning Anakin had not arrived.

 

And so she did not, surviving even the jagged teeth of a nexu in the arena of Geonosis. He had watched the recording four times, watched the way Anakin faithfully leapt to her defense, how she had taken care of herself well enough regardless of the young Jedi’s flights of fancy.

 

As the war went on, and she made endless minute troubles for him, he began to find the tiniest sliver of admiration for her in his black heart. The more desperate she became, the more sly and cunning, and he found himself wondering from time to time what a Sith Lady she might have made if endowed with the power of the Force.

 

Alas, that would not be. She is completely blind to the Force, an insect under the hard boots of men like him. What a pity.

 

He has greater problems on his hands now.

 

Unbidden, the memory of her shapely belly under his probing fingers returns to his mind, and he cannot stop the twinge of fire and fear and desire, so unfamiliar to him and somewhat unwanted. The ritual… He never expected it to lead to this. Unforeseen, and that troubles him greatly. Few things in this galaxy are unknowable to him, and her future entwined with his resides in shadow and uncertainty. Often he has looked into the Force since their first joining, and the Force shows nothing of her. It remains as blind to her as she is to it.

 

Frustrating, really.

 

It reminds him of the time shortly after the Grand Experiment with Darth Plagueis, after – at the insistence of his master – their bodies and minds became one in the draining effort to create, to demand life from the Force itself. He suppresses a hateful shudder at the memory of the Muun, remembers the tentative, resentful joy when he first heard of Anakin’s existence from Dooku, remembers the undulating panic of Plagueis when the old Sith believed the Force had struck back.

 

He remembers the savage internal pleasure when Plagueis admitted that the Force had fled his touch after the experiment, and when he saw that so many of the experiments and animals, Plagueis’s mad circus, died horribly and shriveled to nothingness in the black alchemy of the Sith Master.

 

Perhaps the Force had struck back against Plagueis, but not Sidious. No, to Sidious, Anakin was a gift of the Dark Side.

 

A catalyst. A portent of the future times for all the rotten Republic to see. The Dark Side had blessed Sidious, anointed him, and given him the courage to do what had to be done. Not Plagueis, and all the years of endless torture and patient waiting paid off at last when the Muun lay cold and smoking at his feet.

 

Except… now Padmé Amidala has changed matters yet again. Sidious’ body remains still on the couch, but his eyes alight with inner fire flickering red and yellow. If anyone enters his quarters now, they will be alarmed to see such perplexed hate on the mild features of the Supreme Chancellor. But he is perplexed, and he is hating the sensation like he hates little else.   

 

Her eyes, shining with desire for him. Her womb, glowing with life. Unmistakable, irresistible life, from him and her entwined together in passionate pursuit of illicit pleasure. How could he have been so hasty, so foolish? To imagine that she might carry his progeny instead, when the Chosen One was meant to have her until death? And now she carries his child, the child of Darth Sidious, the child of House Palpatine. An heir? He wants no heir. He intends no heir.

 

What has he managed to do this time? She does not yet suspect anything; her birth control has given her false confidence, but birth control is nothing in the face of the Dark Side’s influence. The child is conceived, and not of Anakin.  

 

Absurdly, Vidar Kim’s deep, matter-of-fact voice floats into his memory: …just as you will someday carry on the Palpatine line…

 

Now, he stands at the edge of a precipice, and he knows it. When he looks into the Force, the child is a mere shadow on the walls of the future, and the thought startles him and intrigues him far worse than he expects. Amidala is beautiful, yes. And willing. Unduly so, he licks his suddenly dry lips as he recalls her whimpering, her gasps whenever he touched her oh so carefully, so deliberately.  

 

And intelligent. And driven. Could she…? She could be deadly too, and powerful in her own way. She could be taught… Shaking his head, he dislikes where his mind takes him. Thanks to Plagueis, he has never lacked in experience with carnal delight, but as a result, he has also never felt the fire like his companions, like his Master did. Of course, even before Plagueis took… even before his apprenticeship, young Palpatine had never been drawn to the calls of wanton women on the lower streets of Theed, of the scandalous holo-recordings passed hand to hand between his snickering classmates.

 

No, his true Mistress will always be power. He has known that since a small child. Some might argue he was a child yet when Plagueis forcibly awakened him to a darker world, and on Naboo he was still a minor in fact. In contrast, Padmé is a full woman in every aspect, and his reaction to her is confusing at best after so many years of seeing her as nothing but one tool of many. Perhaps the ritual backfired, perhaps he misspoke and brought the desire upon himself. Alchemy is a tricky thing, but it does not feel fabricated.  

 

She wishes to meet with him tonight, has begged him for a private audience, and Sidious, relenting, wonders just what she desires. She is clearly worried about Anakin, as the boy has been gone much longer than his mission dictated. Perhaps she is only curious to discover the fate of her husband, an unfaithful wife seeking to assuage her heavy guilt.

 

Palpatine tightens his grip on the wine glass. The Jedi Council, close-lipped and obstinate, has given him no updates, no support, though he plies his trade with wide-eyed concern for his young friend. Clone intelligence channels have turned up little else, only that Anakin was separated from the 501st on a routine flyover of the Separatist stronghold on the planet. Dense particle fog and radioactive gases have made transmissions nearly impossible on the surface. While here on Coruscant, he dares not delve too deeply into the Force to seek Anakin’s presence, but surely he would know if… if.

 

No. It is not a possibility he is willing to consider, and when he meditates, the Force remains quiet along this front. Anakin cannot die.     

Everything else is proceeding as he has foreseen, but this is something new and unknown, and that alone makes his heart pound a little heavier in his chest when he senses the doors to his security office sliding open, admitting the slim and gowned figure of the Senator herself.

Padmé is beautiful tonight as she steps into the dimly lit living quarters, her thick brown hair coiffed perfectly on her head, accentuating the delicate line of her nape and shoulders, which he notices with distant interest are bared in the style of her daring, low-cut gown. Both formal and inviting. Does she know what she does? He is tempted to peek into her fragile mind and gather a sense of her true intentions, but tonight he is as tired and tense as he gets. Tonight is not a night for careless mistakes, so he holds his curiosity back instead.

 

Better safe than sorry.

 

“Hello, Padmé.”

 

She jerks, her hands rising in automatic defense before she spies him on the couch, shrouded in shadow. Her eyes widen, her lips too, into a hesitant, embarrassed smile. “Chan-Chancellor,” she stammers. “I didn’t see you there.”

 

Setting aside the wine – something so much more interesting has arrived – Palpatine rises to his feet and approaches the young Senator, tucking his hands in his sleeves to appear harmless and solemn. “My apologies, my lady. Much is on my mind tonight, and I was… distracted. You look well.”

 

More than well. She is a veritable feast for the eyes, a healthy glow in her pink cheeks, and a tinge of arousal when she hurriedly sweeps her gaze down his body and then fixes it on the floor. Her mind openly projects what she wants from him. Tucking his discomfort with being perused expertly under his shields, Palpatine stops a meter away from her and waits.

 

“No harm done, Chancellor. Thank you so much for meeting with me tonight. I know your schedule must be terribly crowded.” Her answer is not long in coming, rushed and breathless, accompanied by slender hands brushing helplessly down the front of her gown. His eyes track those hands, the swell of her small breasts rising over the edge of the dark green velvet material.

 

Looking back up at her, he allows himself to smile. “Anything for a friend, Padmé. It was arranged easily enough. Will you come in, have a seat? I can bring you a drink if you should like.”

 

Padmé’s eyes lift to his, and the fire in their depths sends a strange and foreign twitch into his mind, into his body. He ruthlessly stills the sensation as she speaks in a near whisper. “Thank you, Chancellor. I’ll take you up on that offer.”

 

Let the games begin, then, he thinks and beckons her forward, every movement nothing but that of a perfect gentleman, a concerned friend. It seems neither of them is ready to admit anything just yet.

 

With only a moment’s hesitation, Padmé joins him, stretching out her hand to his, her fingertips brushing his palm before he closes his hand over hers and brings it up, her conjured fantasy. At the electric touch of her knuckles at his lips, she shivers and pulls free. Palpatine lets her go. Her mind screams, begs: formality only. Friends only. How very interesting.

 

“Let me get you that drink,” he murmurs, fully aware that her eyes have dilated with his proximity. The life in her calls to him. It knows him, and he almost wishes to call back, just to see.

 

He can hear her shaky soft sigh of relief when he guides her to the couch and then disappears into his kitchen to fetch the wine bottle and a second glass.

 

Perhaps tonight will bring the clarity they both require.

Chapter Text

Padmé sits daintily on the edge of the couch, hyper aware of the seat’s warmth and its previous occupant. Palpatine has completely disappeared in the small kitchen off to the right of his main living room, and Padmé takes the chance to furtively cast her gaze about.

 

His apartment is neat and tidy, fastidiously so in fact. A small smile tugs at her nervous lips: this is the Palpatine she has always known, her mentor of many years. This is almost like his small apartment back on Theed. Careful and exacting, impersonal and deliberate, but here and there little snatches of personality still exist, hints of a deeper meaning, a mysterious well of knowledge and intrigue that begs for the surface to be peeled back.

 

Of course, that might never happen, but she allows her eyes to rove over the small statues here and there from a variety of galactic cultures, the dashes and puddles of crimson, his favored color. Does he have a favorite color, she wonders. In all their time together, she has never outright inquired. It must be red, although he prefers blacks and blues and greens in his clothing. Padmé smiles bashfully, though there is no one to see it. He is certainly wearing a striking ensemble tonight, black and deep green silks so dark they look like the shadows of deepest Coruscant. It contrasts so well with his moon-pale skin.

 

No… No, stop thinking about that. She has no right to think of him like that. He doesn’t deserve to face the fallout of her weakness; she’s simply here to find out what he knows of Anakin.

 

Of her husband. Rightful husband.

 

Padmé brushes one trembling hand over the other and draws in a shaky breath. She really wants that drink before he comes back, but unfortunately that won’t be happening. Here he comes now, his natural gait more of a glide than a walk, and she can hear the whisper of his robes over the lush carpet as he enters the living room. In his hands, two goblets of wine rest with practiced ease.

 

Her nose catches the whiff of distinctive sweetness, and her eyes widen with delight. “Blossom wine, Chancellor?”

 

Palpatine offers the faintest of smiles along with the left glass. “Nothing but the finest. This is a century bottle, in fact.”

 

Mouth watering, Padmé takes the glass, holding her shiver in when their fingers collide in passing. Palpatine doesn’t react except to shift the other goblet to his left hand and settle comfortably onto the couch next to her. He maintains the proper distance, and she wants to thank him for it.

 

She isn’t certain she could keep her hands to herself otherwise. They need this distance.

 

For a long moment, Palpatine sips daintily at his wine and gives her space to think. He has always been able to sense her inner conflict, ever since they worked closely together to get her elected as Queen of Naboo. The way he can so easily sense her moods, her needs, is warming, sends a tingling low in her chest. Anakin cares for her, but Anakin has never been the most aware of lovers. She fights a small smile, because Anakin’s skills lie elsewhere, and he is always kind. Always loving.

 

Palpatine is not… loving. Not yet. He is aloof and gracious, like some majestic wild creature, and something is there between them ever since the fateful moment she walked into his office feeling lonely and horny. Maybe even before that point, Padmé has to admit.   

 

More than anything, he is still a mystery to her, and yet he manages to read her like an open tome. It just isn’t fair.

 

He’s looking at her now, Padmé realizes, a quiet ghost of a smile on his thin lips as though some cosmic joke has managed to make it past his impeccable shields. That smile is familiar to her and reminds her of Naboo, of formality and half-hidden comradeship when she got caught listening behind the curtains of the Earl of Vis’ banquet rotunda. She can remember the choked laughter at Veruna’s expense, her father’s disapproving glare, Palpatine’s conciliatory shrug of elegant shoulders.

 

Palpatine has always been elegant, a true patrician of Naboo’s finest Houses. Back then, his hair was still heavily laced with red; now only traces remain of the fire at his temples and eyebrows, but it has moved into his ice pale eyes, somehow all the more intense for it.  

 

Silver and white suits him equally well, Padmé decides and startles herself with the desire rumbling low in her belly.

 

Palpatine doesn’t appear to notice her sudden quiver and downcast eyes. He lowers the glass from his lips and studies her. “You are very quiet tonight, my lady. I confess I find myself apprehensive facing such an unusual occasion.”

 

She can’t stop the laugh that slips between her teeth. “I guess so. I’ve never been shy about speaking my mind, have I?”

 

“It often comes with the territory of our profession, I’m afraid,” he allows.

 

“You do a much better job of keeping secrets than I do,” she teases just a bit, just to see what he might do, and is surprised when he holds her gaze for a little too long. Too long to be proper. Is he…?

 

Finally, he sighs. “Yes, I suppose I rather do.”

 

This is her chance to get back on track and do what she came for. She leans a little closer, unconsciously mimicking the square of his shoulders, as she often did when learning political tricks from him long ago. “I don’t suppose you have any secrets the Jedi Order shared with you.”

 

Taking a moment before replying, Palpatine eyes the wine glass in his hand, gently swirling the contents. “The Jedi Order outclasses us both when it comes to tight-handed rule, my dear. I’ve heard much the same as you. They will neither confirm nor deny Anakin’s…”

 

He trails off. He never trails off, and Padmé feels her heart jump in her throat, and she realizes that he is worried too. This sliver of genuine emotion stuns her, and she feels the bond between them grow. Anakin is a central figure in both their lives, a beloved husband to her and a dear friend to him.

 

Oh, life is too complicated for this. Too complicated for the flutter against her sternum, the scrape of her fingernails on the glass as she barely restrains her hand from reaching for him. She wants to comfort him, touch him, let him know she understands. Has anyone ever done that for him?

 

She wants the frozen block in her chest to be thawed by that gaze of ice and fire.

 

“It will be all right,” she tries to say, but the words stick in her throat. “W-Why are they holding back information from us?” comes out instead, comes from the Senator instead of the panicking wife.

 

Palpatine lifts both eyebrows slightly. “Other than their usual need to control every facet of their members’ lives? I would hazard a guess that the Jedi Order has no clearer picture of the situation than the clone commanders have already conveyed to me.”

 

Padmé feels a sting of pleasant surprise and terrified anticipation. Any news would be welcome from the drain of not knowing. “The clone commanders told you something?”

 

The Chancellor pauses, as though debating whether he should share such confidential knowledge, but then he looks at her and nods somberly, taking her into his confidence. It makes Padmé feel trusted, feel good, too good. She shoves the stirrings down and focuses on his words. “Clone Intelligence learned that Anakin was separated from his troops over the Separatist stronghold. Contact with him was lost due to the environmental conditions and fierce contest over the region.”

 

Padmé sucks in a shuddering breath. Anakin was separated… that means no one knows, that means Anakin has to be alive, because there isn’t any other option. She meets Palpatine’s eyes, and she swears the same thought is there too. There’s more, a connection, a hope tinged with darkness and fear, but hope.

 

“Thank Shiraya…” she breathes, slipping unknowingly into the language of her people.

 

His eyes flicker. He gets up from the couch and paces silently over to the wide window to stare out over the dark skies and endless streams of traffic. His back to her is like an impenetrable wall, the wall around his emotions and heart.

 

Does he doubt?

 

She looks at him closely, studies the set of his shoulders. Does he claim Naboo’s pantheon out of genuine love of the gods? Or has he only tried to make her happy over these many years, to amuse a silly little girl with a harmless political crush on her trusted mentor?

 

She has never been brave enough to ask him, at least not until now. But it feels right, in this moment when he seems open just a little.

 

“You don’t believe in her, do you?” Padmé can’t stop the small twinge of disappointment running through her at the thought. It really shouldn’t matter, but he is Naboo like her. Anakin doesn’t believe either, she suspects because he has the Force. She believes in Shiraya… she does. She did. She certainly did when younger, and she still keeps the goddess close in her apartments through two small statues.

 

So… she does.

 

Palpatine has paused, going very still, and looks sideways at her. “I’ve seen too much, I expect, to believe that impersonal deities govern our destinies.” His gaze turns decidedly sly. “I think we can certainly make our own, though.”  

 

Padmé drops her gaze down into her folded hands, so prim and proper, and she wonders if he thinks she is judging him. She can never do that, but how can he be so… so uninvested in his own people’s religion? Perhaps Coruscant has been so hard on him that he has simply forgotten…Maybe Anakin’s disappearance has rattled him worse than he lets on. So she gets up and moves next to him by the window, close enough to reach out and touch him, but she doesn’t, not yet.

 

Bereft of the one who has tied them together in anxiety, they stand in silence together, the cool air of the apartment a chasm between their finely robed bodies. Palpatine appears completely distracted in his thoughts.

 

“Meditate with me,” she suddenly blurts, and turns bright red when his eyebrows lift in gentle disbelief. Nibbling her lip, Padmé decides to forge ahead. “You can’t have forgotten how to do it?”

 

Palpatine stares at her, expression inscrutable. Finally he speaks, his voice a low drone. “I haven’t forgotten.”

 

Padmé feels a drop of impulsivity and smiles, reaching out to catch his slender pale hand in hers. His skin is soft and warm to the touch, raising desire to race along her skin. He blinks back at her. “Then do it with me.”

 

Her urging sparks a gleam of gentle amusement in his eyes. “Will you be content if I do, my lady?”

 

No, she thinks. I can’t be content anymore with you, not when we’re like this, not when everything has changed…so much, between us. And… I don’t want it to change back. Force, I want this closeness, this...

 

He looks politely just past her, over her half-bared shoulder. On Naboo, it is considered dreadfully rude to continue staring at someone after a certain time, and she was certainly staring at him, and Padmé blushes when she realizes she forgot to answer his question.

 

“It would please me greatly,” she says at last, shy now.

 

“Then who am I to protest any further?” he smiles, a bare hint of amusement, and there’s a deliberate purr in his question, a satisfied smug sound like a great narglatch curled up after a feast. He pulls against her hand, and she steps forward to follow him to the couch, feeling like her mind is fleeing to a thousand places and nowhere at once.  

 

When they sit, he perches himself on the edge of the leather seat, boots firmly planted on the floor and silky robes flowing over him in graceful swoops and trims. Padmé notices that his gowns are more form-fitting tonight than usual; he looks slender and graceful, like one of the fabled swamp spirits on Naboo, wild and mysterious and uncatchable.

 

She wants to catch this one very badly. Or be caught. After all, it is said that the swamp spirits, once ensnaring their prey, take them deep into the ocean tunnels through secret passages in the lakes and streams. Once in the depths, they keep their victims alive and toy with them for eternity, sensual companions willingly forsaking all light above for the darkness below. Legend even has it that when humans first arrived on Naboo, some swamp spirits came out of the murkiness and mated with the humans, settling into life on the surface and even beyond the planet, never quite at home but blending in perfectly all the same, human on the outside and anything but within, their black and wild blood mingling with crimson human life.

 

They say a Naboo with wanderlust is partly descended from those ancient troublemakers.

 

Others scoff at the legends and point back to rare and frightening Gungan interactions when the human colonists were newly arrived. The unfamiliar always becomes sensational in memory, but Padmé looks at her Chancellor and wonders if some legends might have truth to them. Just now, in this dim lighting, in those slim dark robes, he appears both human and not.

 

His eyes too bright, his desirability too sharp.

 

It makes her shiver, makes her fingers curl around the thin stem of her wine glass, - she doesn’t remember picking it up again - her lips pressing together to avoid following her thoughts any further.

 

Now isn’t the time to be thinking of silly children’s fables.

 

When his hand gently takes hers, feather-light and as hesitant as though she is glass, Padmé looks up.

 

He looks back, expression inscrutable but eyes alive. So alive. Ageless.

 

Sprite or not, she can’t stop herself from leaning forward, tilting her head back, and tentatively, oh so gently, touching her mouth to his.

 

After the longest agony of still lips, he responds.

Meditation forgotten. In the fear of the crouching night, there is only them.  

Chapter Text

Her lips taste like wine, a very fine, cultivated wine like the bottles he used to sneak from his father’s best stock.

 

Stolen wine, he can appreciate.

 

Darth Sidious still is not entirely certain that he can say the same about Padmé Amidala.

 

That alone gives him pause when she leans in and presses her full lips to his thin ones, that and a sudden cascade of other thoughts, what-ifs and howevers and cautious warnings. What if Anakin does not return until it is too late to disguise the pregnancy? What if Anakin does not return at all? What if he allows Padmé to continue down this path of infatuation, if he allows himself to indulge her? He needs to meditate soon; this impulsiveness is not agreeable to his nature.

 

Once, long ago, Plagueis mocked him mercilessly for what the old Muun called “the frantic human mind,” always so busy, always so conniving and yet prone to doubts and fear. Plagueis hid his admiration with taunts, doing his utmost to test whether his apprentice could handle his self-doubts. Your mind is your greatest weapon, and your greatest enemy, Plagueis murmured against the sharp ridge of his collarbone before lifting and taking him in a searing cold kiss…

 

Padmé Amidala is not cold. Palpatine feels the warmth pressed against him, and the growing heat bleeds some of the abrupt tension out of his limbs. He responds at last, slender fingers twining with her delicate ones, holding back the king of beasts that wants nothing more than to tear out the throat of his enemy, allowing her to take the lead as though he is gentled.

 

He isn’t. He wants too many things, has too many ambitions to ever be gentled by a woman wrapping one pale arm around his neck and shoulders, pulling him over her until he has to disentangle their right hands and brace himself on the couch to avoid crushing her under him. He watches her break the kiss and recline back, feels her fingers moving lazy and tender through his hair, sees the glaze of edged lust in her luminous brown eyes.

 

The power he has over her in this moment is intoxicating.

 

He wonders if she has always felt this way. He certainly never did. He has transformed from wanting to crush this insignificant worm to almost admiring the way she pursues her goals with single-minded determination. Before, it was troublesome; now, he can too easily imagine the possibilities of such a will turned to his uses. The Sith ritual is long over, passed into the wisps of the Force, but her attraction only seems to burn hotter for him. Was it always there? Would she have come to him eventually, even of her own accord?

 

Sidious shakes his head, and were he not a Sith Lord, he might be nearly ashamed of his wandering thoughts. Is this sentimentality a product of the small life in her womb, a part of him in her now? An evolutionary directive? A dalliance that has temporarily turned his head with new possibilities? You were right, Plagueis, he thinks, dark and rueful. The human mind cannot be underestimated.

 

He should learn to stop underestimating Padmé as well, because the enterprising young Senator has taken advantage of his hesitance. Her fingers are at the clasp of his collar, undoing it, and her smile is so bashful, so devious as she pushes the outer layer of his robes down over his shoulders. Sidious restrains a growl deep in his chest and leans in, seeking to distract her, to bring the shockball back into his court.

 

Padmé gasps around his lips when he invades her there, but never was an invasion so gentle before, so carefully plotted as to leave the plundered quivering and desperate for more. Point to him, Sidious thinks in sly triumph, noticing how her fingers have stilled and dug into his back through the inner robes.

 

Back in control, back where he belongs.

 

He breaks the kiss and goes in for the kill, lowering his voice until the husky growl is centered on her, holding her captive, drawing his lips along her vulnerable throat. “I don’t recall this being part of the meditations, Senator Amidala.”

 

Padmé’s hands tighten, her unprotected thoughts battering his shields, but for once he doesn’t want to read them. He wants to hear them, the delightful little stammer of admission. “I-I think we were doing it wrong before.”

 

Palpatine pulls back, genuinely surprised – and irrationally pleased – by her near blasphemy. “Well, well, Senator. Surely I haven’t corrupted you that badly.”

 

She looks at him, frozen.

 

He lets the sibilant word slip away in Naboo. “Yet…”

 

Shivering, Padmé tries to laugh it off with a small giggle. As always, she tries to rationalize, tries to talk herself down from what she wants. “You know Shiraya is the goddess of love, Chancellor. Perhaps we are corrupting each other.”

 

The thought amuses him more than it should, and he becomes almost playful in the way he kisses her again, a light touch he has nearly forgotten. When Padmé pushes his outer robes completely off, it becomes a challenge to hold the bloodlust at bay, to instead conjure the sexual confidence that he has not used for nearly a decade until she walked into his office only days ago. Yet old habits die hard, and the memories of her body under his guide them into more urgent touching, harder kissing.

 

When he finally pulls away, they are both gasping from the intensity of the moment. Padmé’s shoulderless gown has slipped down even further, revealing the creamy expanse of the top of her soft breasts, and Sidious is once again surprised by his own reaction to the sight.

 

He ponders it. His former Queen, his enemy, lying on her back in dazed desire, vulnerable under his hard lean body, desperate and wanton for the touch of his fingertips, her lips parted in soft little pants.

 

She is powerless, and yet with a beckoning crook of those fragile fingers, he knows he would go to her. A portion of his serpent mind warns him that this is dangerous, that no one should make him react this way, that no one ever has.  

 

Perhaps this is why he wants her. A challenge, a unique enigma, a test? For himself and her. Is the Force testing him? He will need to meditate a great deal later tonight and cleanse his thoughts of all uncertainty, for uncertainty he loathes with all the fiber of his being.

 

Padmé watches him, her breathing slowly growing steady. “Are you all right?” she whispers.

 

Sidious allows his lips to curve into a gracious smile, the gentle smile of Palpatine concealing razor sharp and ravenous teeth. “Are you sure this is what you want, my lady?” Is she willing of her own accord, he is curious to find out.

 

The young Senator blushes, but her eyes never leave his. He likes this boldness. “I don’t know much of anything right now, Chancellor, but what I do know… I do know I want this. I don’t know why, but I do.”

 

“Is the why so important?” he purrs, lowering one hand to gently rest on the side of her face. She needs gentleness right now. More will come later.

 

“It should be,” Padmé nuzzles against his hand.

 

Her soft confession should be his as well, but Sidious finds himself unwilling to delve into it right now. He draws his hand slowly down the curve of her neck, feels her tense with anticipation.

 

Time now, time to explore this new development. He helps her sit up on the couch and reaches around for the ties at the back of her dress. Padmé leans against him as he does, her head coming to rest against his narrow, firm chest. “Maybe,” she whispers as he pulls loose each tie, “Maybe it is because I am afraid, and you make me not afraid.”

 

“Shh..” he pauses and puts one long finger to her lips. “Do not speak of fear tonight, my lady.”

 

She stiffens, and suddenly his mind is flooded with memory, but the memory is not his own, at least, not from his perspective. “I am afraid, Senator,” young Amidala paces up and down the length of the small palace hallway. “Veruna becomes more aggressive the higher I advance in the polls. What if he takes it out on the people? You know the protests are getting stronger each day. This banquet will only make him angrier.”

 

Senator Palpatine stays rooted in place, her rock, her foundation, the center of her nervous orbit. “My lady,” he inclines his head in a curious tilt. “Veruna is half mad, even without your challenge. He will do whatever he feels like doing, you cannot be held responsible for his actions. The flyovers at the protests are not your fault. The best course for you to take is to remain firm, to force him out of power through the power of your dreams. His fragile support will shatter under your dream of a better Naboo.”

 

“A Naboo for the people,” Amidala nods, pleased by his words, strengthened by him. But still the fear gnaws at her like a Tusk cat at an old fragile bone. “I want that, but… I am so afraid. What if he takes it out on the people? What if he takes it out on you? I’m only fourteen. What if… what if I can’t do it after all?”

 

He goes to her and lays a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Tonight is for triumph, for your eventual, unavoidable victory. Do not speak of fear tonight, my lady. It is unbecoming of one so strong as you are. Believe in yourself, if nothing else.”

 

She turns and presses her tiny body against him in a fierce, grateful hug, dropping the masquerade of a soon-to-be queen of Naboo as she squeezes her dear friend tightly. “I believe in you. Thank you, Senator, you are a great comfort to me.”

 

“You’ve always believed in me,” Padmé whispers in gentle amazement, shivering in his wiry arms, and he pauses on the last tie of her dress. Grown up now, in all the right ways, in ways he never noticed before, his former Queen now presses against him in sudden sorrow and guilt. He can feel the soft curves against his hard lines. “I’m, I’m sorry for betraying that trust, for coming to you like this and asking you to betray your friend, and my husband. You’ve been nothing but kind to me, and I’m afraid I’ve done nothing but hurt you.”

 

Sidious does not enjoy the faintest twinge in him when she says this. Not guilt. Just disappointment. She is still so weak and tender. Instead, he draws on the festering anger deep within, always within, and uses it to put a low heat in his voice as he places a hand under her chin and tilts her face up. “Do I look like I am being forced into this, Padmé? This fear, it is unbecoming of one so strong as you are.”

 

She startles at his words, at the memory she is mulling over, and blushes.

 

He gently straightens her. “Or, quite frankly, one so beautiful as you are...”

 

Padmé drops her eyes to the couch, unable to face the promise she finds in him. Ever so slowly, he draws the bodice of her dress down, watching her closely for signs of resistance, slipping it past the hardened tips of her proud breasts, letting it puddle around her thin hourglass waist. His hands slide up her sides to tease a soft gasp from her as his thumbs trace the swell of each globe of tender flesh. His fingertips catch on her nipples, and Padmé whimpers.

 

“Please,” she manages. “Please…”

 

So open, so fearful. She wants to release the animal in her heart. He wants the tenderness to end, wants the heat of her wrapped around him, her soul blackening as it touches his dark hunger. He wants her aggression, her possessiveness. She’ll do it too, he knows that now. She just needs the permission.

 

So he gives it to her, whispering into her ear. “Forget the fear. You came here for a reason, Padmé.”

 

“To- oohh – to find out if you knew… oh, Palpatine…”

 

He chuckles softly when her head tilts back in pleasure. Her little nipples are very sensitive to pressure. “That wasn’t the only reason, was it? You, coming to me, at night, when no one else will see us, when no one else will see what you want.”

 

His taunting makes her groan breathy and low. “Yes… yes, I wanted...”

 

“Wanted what? Wanted me?” He licks the corner of her open lips. “Did you want my cock between your legs?”

 

The young Senator gasps at his calculated crudity, her thighs parting as he brings a hand down to press against her core, through the bunched clothing. Grinding, she is grinding on his hand, helpless and wide-eyed.

 

He grins and slides his hand lower, managing to catch the hem of her dress and slip under it, feeling her jerk when his cool fingers smooth up her long legs.

 

“Did you want to be fucked, Senator?”

 

“I… I…”

 

She clutches at him when he tugs her thin undergarment aside, when his index finger reaches her folds and slides between them, testing her shallow depths. Sidious growls softly at what he finds. “I thought as much. How long have you been wet like this, Senator Amidala?”

 

Padmé lifts her head, gazing unsteadily at him, biting her lip when he gently rubs at her clit. She thinks for a long moment, even her thoughts unraveling in the Force. “Since… I first thought of you today. Auuhh… Don’t stop…”

 

Her hips cant up to meet his fingers, and he dips one into her tightness. Padmé forgets herself and writhes, arching from the couch and pulling at her dress, desperate for contact.

 

So he helps her, withdrawing and stripping the gown down over her legs and completely off. It puddles in a beautiful pile of green on the carpet. The undergarment he simply tears away with a soft surprised yelp from her, flimsy to begin with, barely a covering at all, and that excites him to think she dressed like this on purpose. For him.

 

Amidala is full of surprises, it seems, and not just the unpleasant sort.  

 

She whimpers with need as she lies naked under him at last. Her hair still perfectly coiffed and poised, she looks decadent and scandalous. Even her necklace is still on, a gaudy affair of silver and precious green stones, shining against her pale, pebbling skin. A tasty dessert of forbidden fruit.

 

He never likes being told he cannot have something, and she is openly inviting him now, her legs parted just enough to provide a glimpse of swollen pink flesh, a hidden garden of endless delight. He has brought her to this point. Now he will push her over past the point of return.

 

Sidious learned how to use his hands to great effect, long ago, and now he plies the trade with merciless precision. His little Senator is so hot for him, so wet. It’s making him hard, watching her lose all control to him, watching her dance for him and moan like the little stubborn puppet she is.

 

Padmé almost screams when she comes, cupping a hand over her mouth to stifle herself, clenching around his two fingers, a slick of wetness sliding down between her thighs. He traces his fingertips through it, then lazily draws them across her trembling chest and throat. This way when he takes her tonight, he will be able to taste her with each lick, each possessive kiss.  

 

“That was… that was…”

 

He kisses her before she can finish her stuttering sentence. “Oh, I’m afraid we have only just begun, Senator,” he promises her, and revels in the dark joy of her eyes. “You’re going to come for me again, my lady.”

 

He kisses her small, petite nose. “And again.”

 

Padmé shudders.

 

Another kiss.

 

“And again.”

Chapter Text

His kisses are terribly distracting.

 

It isn’t fair, that he is still dressed and she is naked. Somehow, he seems more comfortable like this, but Padmé is not interested in comfort anymore. She wants revenge in the best possible way now that she is down from her blissful high. Now that she can focus since his long, talented fingers are no longer plunging into her, though they still circle lazily around the tips of her nipples and make her shiver.

 

She wants him bare before her, trapped in her charms just as she succumbed to his. The hot memory of the stretch of him sends a throb low in her body, a tingling want.

 

But there has to be a better place for this. It’s bad enough that she wants him, but she wants him in a bed and moving under her, in her and filling her with his considerable cock. “Your room?” she utters breathlessly.

 

Palpatine looks down, amused, his thin lips lifting in a faint smirk. “So eager?”

 

Padmé feels the bright flush creeping across her face, but she can’t stop the answering smile or her hand from sliding down the smooth shimmersilk of his inner robes to grasp at his hidden length through his trousers. He is growing hard, the hint of his excitement giving her enough illicit courage to whisper up, “We’ll see who’s more eager soon, Chancellor.”

 

Palpatine stares down at her with eyes alight, indescribable fire searing her soul. When he looks at her like that, Padmé can ignore the whispers of warning deep in her, the fear that she has gone too far. When he looks at her like that, Padmé feels like the only woman in the galaxy, and that feeling is like nothing she has ever felt before.

 

With Anakin, she feels worshipped. She is used to being worshipped.

 

But with Palpatine, she feels utterly devoured. And honestly… she wouldn’t mind doing a bit of devouring herself.

 

So with a gentle squeeze of her slender fingers, she allows his intent to bleed into her own limbs, lets the darkness in, lets his promise reflect and grow in her, and Palpatine visibly reacts. His whole body grows tense as a Gungan’s bowstring as he hovers carefully over her, his pale eyes fixed on her face. Padmé can feel her nipples hardening, aching at the hunger she can see in those curious depths. There isn’t time to be frightened.

 

However as the moments inch past, it appears that he is content to simply stare at her. How unlike Anakin he is, driving her wild with explicit promises one moment and then forgetting that she is ready to be fucked in the next. Anakin would never forget that he wants to fuck her. It is like Palpatine lives in another world, parallel to this one. Then again, he has always been like that, from time to time, in the quieter moments they have shared over the years. It makes her think of the legends again.

 

“Bedroom?” she prompts softly when he continues to search her for… something. What?

 

He nods, cautious and strangely brittle as he moves off the couch and offers her his hand like the most gentle of suitors. Padmé takes it and pulls herself up.

 

For a moment, he hesitates, then motions with his free hand toward the far door of the living room. “My lady?”

 

Padmé thrills at his courtly manners, but works up her courage. He can say it to me, can I say such things to him? I think I can. She feels like someone poured all the sands of Tatooine down her throat, leaving her voice with a huskiness that startles them both. “Such formality, Chancellor, for such intimate conversation.”

 

Palpatine chuckles at last, his fingers tightening over hers as he leads her forward into the narrow hallway. It would be perfect…

 

Can she? Does she dare? Padmé sucks in a deep breath and brakes hard, pulling him back to her and pushing him up against the wall. Palpatine is much smaller than Anakin, much more delicate, but for the barest of moments she feels such strength in his suddenly tense arm that she nearly loses her courage.

 

Then all resistance is gone, like it never existed, and he allows her to press him back, both eyebrows rising in obvious perplexed amusement. “My lady?”

 

She pulls on her most regal tones. “Speechless, Chancellor? Perhaps I’ll give you something to say, eventually. Or moan…” Padmé grins at him, well aware that his gaze has not left hers, so she uses one hand to pin him in place and draws the other down over her throat and between her firm breasts. He instinctively tracks her movement, and when she manages to get him looking sufficiently downward, she leans in and captures his mouth with hers.

 

Palpatine grunts softly, as though surprised or pleased, she can’t tell. But his hands come up to rest on her shoulders, to pull her more tightly into the kiss until her body is draped along his. They fit… so well.

 

Proud of herself now and emboldened, Padmé initiates Phase Two of her diabolical plan. Fighting a grin as they part for a breath of air, she slips her fingers up to the collar of his robes and begins working the small ties and hooks loose. She raises up on her toes to bring her full lips to his ear, hissing, “So many layers, Chancellor. Shall I peel them all away, reveal all your secrets?”

 

He doesn’t move. She isn’t sure either, isn’t sure what she entirely means, if it was only a double entendre or something more, because she truly does want to know him. He is a man of many, many layers, and his elaborately complex robes are only a shadowy reflection of the countless layers under his skin, in his calculating mind, in his fey soul.

 

Shaking herself back to the moment at hand, Padmé manages to get his collar undone and attacks the wide, dark green cummerbund next, unwrapping it from his thin waist as though he is a gift from Shiraya herself. Perhaps he is, considering the paleness of his soft skin and the glowing moonlight in his eyes.

 

She allows the rich material to fall to the floor, forgotten and useless, and tackles his robes with delicate relish. He watches her as she pushes the inner robe off his shoulders, revealing the dark tunic and trousers underneath. So many layers, Padmé realizes, nearly as many as her own when she was Queen on Naboo. Certainly as many as she wears now as Senator.

 

Wore. She’s naked now. And he needs to be.

 

Fragile fingers curl under the edge of the tunic, lift with desperate hunger, and he obliges her by lifting his arms and letting her pull it over his head. Padmé is greeted with the sight she found only days earlier, when she pulled his clothes off in the shower room. So lean, so coiled, like a lazy serpent in the corner of a warm garden. It stokes the ache low in her belly.

 

She doesn’t want to wait any longer, so she seizes his hands and whispers, “Come, Chancellor.” He follows, content to be led to his own bedroom. To his own ravishment, she thinks with a blush. Her willing prey. She only hopes she will still have the courage once they arrive.

 

When they arrive at his room, Padmé can’t help but sneak several glances around the spacious chamber. The walls are a deep red, deeper than in his office, and small niches here and there contain wild and dark statuary and artwork, several of them from ancient Naboo. Something about them screams of hidden, forbidden power and pleasure. Her stomach flips. So like his office, and yet somehow more. He does not display many of his planet’s cultural keepsakes in his office in order to enhance the perception of impartiality. This is a part of the Chancellor from Naboo that few see.

 

She sees the bed, an Alderaanian relaxa-bed, covered in fine blankets of the richest red, decorated with a faint relief of an attacking zalaaca motif, and somehow she knows the silken sheets underneath will be the color of blood. Wide enough for two, for writhing lovers.

 

Lovers on red.

 

He is such a bold Naboo, though one wouldn’t know it to look at him.

 

Palpatine waits quietly behind her as she turns and takes in the sights. “To your liking?” he asks, barely audible.

 

Padmé knows he isn’t watching the room. She can feel his eyes on her back, tracing down over the curve of her spine and lower still to the glistening place between her legs, and she fights a hot desperation. He promised her pleasure, but she needs her turn. She needs to take him now, feel him, understand him. He has shown her an intimate part of his own life, by simply allowing her to step into his most private of sanctuaries.

 

She wants to return the favor. She turns back to him and steps closer, loops her arms up around his shoulders. No wonder he is so quiet.

 

On Naboo, the bedroom is sacred. The rites performed within, meaningful and significant. What they do here tonight will be witnessed by Shiraya, in ways that their coupling in the shower room or his office could never be. Here, they are meant to make love. Here, no one exists but the two of them.

 

So unlike the haste of before, unlike the shower room of the Senate gymnasium, Padmé takes her time and hopes that her slow, deliberate strokes will drive him helplessly wild in her arms. She smooths her fingertips down over his narrow shoulders.

 

And stops, startled, when she encounters preexisting grooves, both vertical and lateral near the center of his back.

 

She doesn’t remember these in the locker room shower. But then again, she was rather distracted then, in a hurry, not like right now when she wants every moment to last forever, even though she knows that will be impossible.  

 

Her eyebrows scrunch. "Palpatine?" She whispers, forgetting the game. 

 

He stills, sensing her distress. "What is it?" 

 

Padmé pulls back and walks around him for a closer look, ignoring the way his pale skin shivers as her hand trails over his ribs and back. They are scars, several of them, faded and old looking but they must have been deep once.

 

She reaches out and touches one, a long diagonal scratch across his right shoulder blade. When she speaks, she can only manage a whisper. "What happened to you?"

 

“Doesn’t everyone have one or two mysterious scars?” he chuckles, glancing over his shoulder at her.

 

She gently glares at him and lays her hand across the old wound. His body tightens. “Come on.”

 

Palpatine looks down at the floor and takes a deep breath. “I was in a speeder accident when I was much younger. Pedestrians were crossing the street in a non-designated area, and in attempting to evade them, I… lost control of the vehicle. Broke that shoulder.”

 

Padmé thinks, how awful, her hands moving to rub gently at his shoulder, trying to provide comfort for the darkness she can now hear in him. He is ashamed. “I’m sorry you were hurt.”

 

“It was long ago,” he shrugs, still tense, still withdrawing.

 

“And here?” She lowers one hand in morbid fascination to touch a long scar over his hip, which disappears under the line of his trousers. Palpatine flinches, actually flinches, and turns, catching her wandering hand in both of his, pulling her off with a smile.

 

It is a dark smile. “Twirrling accident when I was younger, nothing terribly dramatic.”

 

Padmé doesn’t like the too-calm tone of his voice because it reminds her of his Chancellor voice, empty and washed out and tired. Official, like he is telling her the party explanation. “Twirrling.”

 

He shrugs. “One of the gualamas did not take well to its saddle, or rider.”

 

She’ll need to dig the truth out of him later, but Padmé has not spent so many years around her mentor only to be manipulated and seen; she intends to take a much closer look when she knows he might be more open. He is not open now, and she can feel the tenseness in his straight body.  

 

Sheev Palpatine is an intensely private man.

 

For now, it is time to get him more relaxed. Time to seduce. Time for Phase Three.

 

“Come with me,” she whispers and tugs at his hands, tugs him in the direction of the wide, opulent bed. When they arrive, Padmé releases him only to pull back the thick covers, and yes, the sheets are the color of fresh blood, just as she imagined. It makes her so wet again.

 

Padmé takes a deep breath to still her fluttering heart. Looks at him. “Sit.”

 

He sinks gracefully onto the edge of the mattress, eyes flickering with curiosity.

 

Padmé steps forward, placing her hands on his lean legs and pulling them apart so that she can step between them, allowing her bare heated core to press against his covered manhood.

 

He bites his lip.

 

“Up on the bed,” Padmé says, sure that he will sense the trembling nervousness in her, certain that he will laugh at her attempt to be so commanding, to be like him.

 

Instead, he tilts his head, then nods, and leverages himself onto the mattress with ease. Padmé follows, unwilling to give up her slight tactical advantage, clambering onto the edge and pushing him onto his back. He stays partway up, propped on sharp elbows and eyes watching her every movement as she carefully straddles his thighs.

 

The cloth of his trousers rubs against her sensitive folds, and the friction makes her want to moan, but she holds it in with ruthless self-control.

 

He reaches up, as though entranced, to touch the centermost green jewel at her throat.

 

Padmé stares down at her prize. Then a confident smirk, his smirk, finds its way to her full lips. “I have you now,” she murmurs.

Chapter Text

The young Senator pauses long enough to realize that her face has flushed, that she wants to stay right here and drink in the sight before her without ever stopping. Aware of her gaze, the Chancellor lies motionless as if caught, his wiry torso freezing but for the barest rise and fall of his chest with soft breaths. Trembling, Padmé stretches out a hand and lets her fingertips settle against his collarbone. His body twitches under her touch and then stills, as if with an effort.

 

His skin is soft, soft like Anakin’s battle and sun-hardened skin never is. Palpatine is paler too, and much leaner; his muscles aren’t nearly defined like Anakin’s rock hard and rippling biceps and abdominals, his shoulders aren’t so broad and powerful, but he is as firm in his own way, and she can clearly see the outlines of his corded muscles. It intrigues her that he is a politician and yet must keep himself in such ready shape. Why…? His skin still adheres to his muscles, showing little signs of his late middle age – truly it seems his thin face and hair are the most care-worn parts of him –, and she pushes against him gently, smiling, guiding him more fully onto his back in the silken sheets.

 

He doesn’t quite smile back, but his eyes gleam with faint amusement and something so warm when she pushes him down, and he goes willingly enough, eyes fixed on her face as her hand drifts lower down his chest. When her cool fingers reach his right nipple, he flinches. Cautiously, curiously, Padmé applies the slightest pressure and feels his whole body tense on the bed. This is... interesting, she smirks. 

 

The rush of intoxicating pleasure fills her and drips wetness on her thighs, then she realizes something and leans closer for a better look. The tiny scars are nearly invisible. By the gods....

 

“You’ve been pierced before?” she exclaims softly, slackjawed in amazement. Chancellor Palpatine, upright paragon of virtue and tradition, with a ring piercing? She can’t stop the sudden nervous giggle from escaping when it sinks in. Then she has a thought and peers at his other side. Her eyes widen. “Both of them?”

 

Palpatine glances at the far wall. It is like he is going into his thoughts again, away from here. “It was… a mistake, in my younger days. Wild days.”

 

Padmé looks at him in a new light. That he ever made such choices... it's inconceivable. “Wild? You? I find that very difficult to believe, Chancellor. I doubt there is a wild bone in your body.” She resumes playing with him, squeezing him until the nub hardens under her ministrations and he tries to shift under her. The sight sends a thrill straight down into her eager core, because Anakin doesn’t react this way, isn’t this sensitive. Her thighs tighten.

 

“I was not always so boring and traditional, you know,” he protests quietly, but there is no bite in his words, just a low lazy whimsy, a hint of regret. Something darker there too, something Padmé can’t identify no matter how many years she has tried.

 

Because this darkness in him is nothing new; since she has known him, Palpatine has always been aloof, alone, brooding. He hides it very well under a perfect shield of charm and grace and genuine care for his people, but she has seen him in the more private moments of his life, has seen the mask slip and show a melancholy soul. Why, she doesn’t know. He is closed to her and anyone else. Most explain it away by referring to his traumatic past.

 

Perhaps she can be the one to look deeper. If he will let her past his endless layers of gentle deflecting humor and subterfuge.

 

She shakes away the gloomy thoughts and decides then and there to cheer him up. “But still, Chancellor,” she scolds him, teases him. “Nipple rings? What possessed you to take on that challenge?”

 

Eyeing her expressionlessly, he finally replies. “They were not rings, they were studs, Padmé. I was young and foolish.”

 

“Maybe you should put them in again,” she grins. “I’m curious. I would never have taken you for the type.”

 

He shakes his head in vague disbelief. “Not even for you, my lady.” And before she can protest again, before she can push him for a clearer answer, he pulls her down over him and guides her lips to his. The kiss, searing and suspiciously purposeful, knocks the resistance out of Padmé, and she melts against him, hyperaware of the press of his skin on hers, the thin cut of his trousers the only separation left between their heated bodies.

 

His hands slide up her shoulders to capture the nape of her neck, long fingers twining into the base of her coiffed hair, pulling insistently at the ties that hold it in place. Only a fellow Naboo would understand how to unravel the elegant design so quickly. She thinks of Anakin, struggling to undo her hair, and giggles. Palpatine is much more experienced.

 

Not for the first time does she wonder who might have received such treatment from him before… and spurns the frightening surge of jealousy.

 

Long strands of her hair tumble down over her bare shoulders, and she shakes her head to spread them out, the tips trailing against his nearly hairless chest, and his eyes widen with loose pleasure. He likes her hair down, Padmé is quickly discovering, so she combs one hand through it roughly, trying to make it presentable. On Naboo, hair should always be formed, structured, controlled. It isn’t proper for him to see her like this.

 

Like anything else you’re doing is? She asks herself, incredulous and trying not to laugh at her ingrained responses. Hair is the least of her worries when she is a secretly married woman lounging naked on the barely clothed Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, but still she tries to tame it and bring it down.

 

Like a striking serpent, he reaches out and catches her hand in his. “Let me,” he growls hoarse and barely contained, and she shivers and reclines on top of him, sinking onto his chest as he lifts trembling hands and brushes through her strands with thin fingertips, elegant and gentle. Every time he reaches her scalp, she wants to sigh, wants to be closer.

 

Padmé wriggles her hips over his, just the slightest twitch, and feels his body tighten under her. His startled hands clench on the strands caught between his fingers, and the sudden pull brings a stinging pain that puts fire between her legs. Gasping, Padmé grips his sides, her fingernails digging into his soft flesh.

 

A growl, deep and warning.

 

Hair forgotten, they press together from lips to legs, twining and rolling on the sheets, and she is on top, and then she isn’t, and then she is again, but she’s not even sure where she ends and he begins anymore. They share heat, tongues, breath… palms possessing skin and claiming flesh until neither one of them can speak even if they wish to.

 

A frantic urgency, a hunger she can’t – and won’t – define.

 

When his fingers tug at her thighs to open her, Padmé goes straight to his trousers, untying the silken cords and dragging the fine cloth off his narrow hips. Then she hungrily returns for his underlayers, and he allows her to take what she wants, lifting his body to let her get the rest of it down until he is completely bared.

 

Now they are on equal footing, she tells herself, feeling weak in the knees.

 

For a moment, Padmé pulls back and straddles him, admiring the sight of his lean body stretched out against the crimson sheets, arms loose at his sides. For a moment, it disturbs her too, for it looks like he is adrift in a sea of blood, pale and forlorn and bloodless himself. Then he quirks a smile at her, hesitant and uncertain, eyes half closed in sultry invitation, and the fire flames back into life.

 

“This is highly unfair,” he murmurs up to her when she leans over him and kisses him, deep and searching and demanding, though he makes no attempt to defend himself.

 

Padmé grins as she comes up for air. “Oh?”

 

“You have me at a distinct disadvantage, what with your significant wiles,” he nods and looks meaningfully at her soft curves. Padmé flushes, embarrassed and pleased, but a delicious and naughty thought sinks into her mind and refuses to loosen its claws. Grinning with a terrible crafty smile, she indulges the urge with five fingers laid against his warm chest. It is like she has placed a Naboo security speeder on him, he appears so pinned in place.

 

“It would appear so, Chancellor,” she purrs, ignoring the hitch of her own breath. “Did you ever think a Senator might take advantage of you in such a… personal way?”

 

Palpatine’s eyes widen, pale blue sparking with surprise and faint heat. “I confess the idea is not entirely disagreeable. Considering the Senator in question, of course.”

 

Padmé blushes at the couched and hidden compliment, and suddenly her sexual aggression heightens into a simple deep appreciation for this man who has always been at her side, always supportive, always so sure of Naboo’s place in the larger galaxy. “Thank you, Palpatine,” she whispers, shocked by the warmth spreading through her limbs. Then she shakes herself; her fun isn’t over.

 

“Be that as it may, I think I like having the advantage, if it lets me do things…like… this…” With each word, she strokes just the tips of her fingers down his chest and belly, stopping just below his navel to renew each time at his collarbone. She thought his body firm before, now it tightens into durasteel, arching just the barest hint under her explorations. Grinning, she allows herself to slide lower each time, fingers tangling in the strangely soft, narrow, whitening trail of faded red hair down below.

 

He swallows a low groan. His head tilts back.

 

Anakin is coarse and deliciously rough. This is like silk, and she wonders at the contrast in textures. Somehow it fits them; Anakin is perfect nature and rampaging desire, and Palpatine is exquisite finery and silk sheets, slow seduction. She dares for a moment to think it: her two men. The only men who matter in her life. Ones like Rush Clovis, they seem so far away and small and forgotten. Unworthy to compete with these…

 

Palpatine is straining to maintain his composure, she can tell. His well-formed cock is getting hard now, stiffening further with each careful stroke she draws down past him, never touching him there, teasing at his lean legs instead until Padmé can imagine him writhing in his brilliant mind, though he remains almost completely still on the bed. He’s so… cerebral, unlike Anakin, and seeing him give in to the throes of physical pleasure excites her in the way seeing her husband doesn’t.

 

Oh, she loves to watch Anakin become the Animal in her bed, the Element that doesn’t stop. He is a force of nature in her arms, endlessly powerful with his confidence and prowess in the Force (though Obi-Wan had better never find out how he uses it). She will never stop loving him. For being him. Anakin is her love and life, and the heights he can take her to...

 

But this… watching her erudite Palpatine lose control… she can’t get enough of this, even though it’s wrong. Maybe it’s because he reminds her of herself. Maybe it’s because the gleam in his dazed strange eyes is something she put there. Maybe because no one else can do this to him, can have this effect on him. Maybe it’s the way she can see his slender fingers digging into the sheets as though the world is disappearing around him.

 

Maybe it’s because she has power here, right now, over him, and he is letting her.

 

The thought steals her breath away, and she wants more, Shiraya forgive her.  

 

She feels like the two of them have a grand and terrible secret together, something marvelous and scandalous and so intensely erotic that she whimpers when he shifts his hips, and then Palpatine gasps out, “Padmé…” The most powerful man in her people’s history …begging for her.

 

In moments like these, she almost feels like a Queen again.

 

Tendrils of hot oozing lust wind their sinuous way around her belly and make her legs shake with the force of her desire. Padmé nearly gives in right then and there, nearly lunges over him, but she pulls on all the strictness of her political upbringing and manages to stop herself. Her hands go still on him, spread across his chest.

 

“Are you ready to be taken advantage of?” she teases, her voice shivering with the strength of her emotions: fear of discovery, desire for him, adoration borne of years of companionship and awareness.

 

He looks up at her through heavy-lidded eyes, pale slivers of blue wracked with delicious agony. “If you…” he swallows convulsively. “If you intend to ravish me, you’d best get on with it, my lady. You’ve done quite enough already.”

 

Padmé grins, breaking character, rocks forward and guides his hands to her hips.

 

Then she is sliding over him, coating him with her slick, and he is sliding into her, proud and long and eager, and the young Senator of Naboo gasps at the stretch of it, the twist and filling – oh! she can’t breathe! - to the hilt, beyond the gates of her pleasure. Pale hands grip at her hips, allowing her to writhe over him with wanton abandon, and he is easy to take because she is so wet, so dripping wet…

 

He is fire in her.

 

Padmé moans into the quiet of the room, startling herself with the volume and gut-wrenching need in her core. No time to think though, because he is taking control, turning her effortlessly until she lies under him and lowering down into her with gentle aggression. She feels the cool sheets bunched in her hands, the warm brush of his skin striking flames in the pit of her belly, his body thrusting with easy lazy strokes as though she is entirely his and no scandal lurks behind those glowing eyes.

 

There is no questioning who is in control now. His length drags against her inner walls, and she clenches and cries out. 

 

Growing, flinching, suspension over a bottomless pit, agony of sweet endless dreams, and she never wants to wake up again. But the horizon is reaching for her, ruthless and relentless, a bright wall of light that dawns on her in a wave of hot liquid ecstasy. She is barely aware that her body is shaking and twining around him as he fills her, trapping him to her in a tangle of limbs and lips. She is moaning into his mouth, and something is growling with a possessiveness that would frighten her if she didn’t feel the same exact way.

 

Hungry.

 

When Padmé manages to connect to reality again, Palpatine is contently lying next to her on his side, free hand tracing over her ribs and belly, feather touches of a tentative lover. His body is sated and relaxed, barely breathing hard, stretched out like a lanky great feline in the Royal Palace back on Naboo. Padmé imagines him lounging on one of the low steps before her throne, a royal collar around his neck, and barely stops an irreverent giggle.

 

She was Queen, she is Senator. She will not giggle and imagine her lover as a palace pet, even if it fits. It simply isn’t done. On the other hand, him captivated before her former throne is a thought that takes a great deal of effort to suppress and sends a twitching through her netherlips. Her own aggressiveness startles her. There exists something about him that brings out such daring wildness in her, as if she is pretending to be some wanton forest nymph, begging to be carried off by the spirits to a place of unending ecstasy.

 

Padmé Amidala is a politician; words always help to ground her thoughts in reality. “That was… amazing,” she whispers to him, wondering why she does. It isn’t as if anyone will hear them speaking. Of all beings, surely the Chancellor is assured of privacy in his own apartments. He must have the best security systems that credits can buy.

 

Palpatine’s eyes open a little further. “You seemed to enjoy it at the time,” he drawls softly, a beautiful touch of their flowing native language in his normally impeccable Core World accent. Padmé wonders for a moment, does he always relax his Coruscanti affectations when in the safety of his apartments, or has their lovemaking done this?

 

She decides she likes it. A lot.

 

And so, teasingly and daringly, she slips fully into Naboo and prods, “Shiraya will be much happier this time.”

 

His eyebrow twitches with amusement. “We were under the moon, you mean, at least indirectly. Nightfall.” At her nod, he chuckles. “Even if our meditations went awry. Do you think she will mind that it was not her moon?”

 

Padmé doesn’t like thinking about that, so she gently bats at his wandering hand and sighs. “She is the moon goddess, not just of Naboo’s moon. It’s more… general.”

 

He eyes her. “Of course.”

 

He doesn’t believe. Carefully wriggling closer, Padmé reaches for his arm and pulls it around her waist, settling back against him, and she fits. Anakin dwarfs her when they lie like this, but Palpatine fits around every curve, his angular edges providing a stability that Padmé desperately needs right now. A wave of sleepy contentment strikes her, a safeness that she rarely feels anymore because of the War, because of Anakin, of all her secrets. Here though, she needn’t worry, because Palpatine is here. He has always been here for her.

 

She twists to look up, nose wrinkling in dismay at a sudden, terrifying thought, one that makes her think of disagreements, of disgruntled senators, of assassinations and scheming Separatist leaders. His elevated position puts him in constant danger… “Palpatine?”

 

He continues to stare at the far wall, even as his arms tighten around her. “Yes?”

 

“Don’t ever leave us. Please. The Republic needs you… I-I need you.”

 

He doesn’t blink, though a faint tremor runs through his thin frame, something she almost cannot feel and might even have imagined, because the next moment he is as still as the statues that line his office. She imagines that his eyes go nearly black in the dim lighting. Black as empty space. Trick of the shadows. It still makes her shiver. Finally, a paper-thin sigh. “I’m not going anywhere.”

 

In this moment, she can believe him.

 

And she is glad of it.  

Chapter Text

‘I-I need you.’

 

He should never have allowed this to progress so far, Sidious thinks as he studies the smooth rich red wall of his bedroom over the top of her mussed hair. But Padmé Amidala, fallen fast asleep and tucked in his arms is deliciously perfect, the paragon of democracy and justice in the galaxy surrounded by his dark power, by the vessel of her beloved Republic’s destruction. He flicks his gaze down to the elegant curve of her neck; he could snap it with a thought, a twitch of his fingers.

 

He could be rid of a worthy opponent at last. His fingers drift up her bare shoulder and slide along the line of her neck. Deep in sleep, she sighs and tilts her head up at the suggestion, baring her throat to him. So trusting. So open. Laying the pads of his fingers there, he can feel the life blood pulsing steadily, driving her little body to keep fighting, to keep breathing and moving and living.

 

To break this lively little bird’s shell would be a shame, in one sense. She sings so prettily.

 

The thought startles him enough to pull away. He might have done it, he wants to do it even now, to feel her warm blood drip from his fingers, to see it pooling on the sheets. He knows why; she is his greatest opponent, worse by far in ways than the entire Jedi Order. She holds to the mewling belief that democracy can be trusted, that masses of fools will better lead the galaxy than the enlightened few – or one – and what’s more, she holds the heart of Anakin Skywalker, the key to his Fall. As long as she holds it pure and sweet, Anakin will resist the call of his destiny.

 

Conversely, the realization also keeps her alive, for he enjoys the thought of this challenge. She will bring Anakin to his knees, bring him begging to Palpatine’s door.

 

That, and the child in her belly. The Unknown Element.

 

Carefully, Sidious spreads his fingers down against the flat curve of her stomach, and the spark of life deep within responds to him, reaching out but shadowed and unclear. He presses, and Padmé sighs deeply again. Can she feel the presence of the child as he can, on some subconscious level perhaps? Not likely.

 

He thinks about destroying it before things become serious. Sidious is fairly certain he could do it, just reach in with the Force and twist, and the little life would be over as quickly as it began. Padmé would be none the wiser when it slipped out unnoticed, too tiny to be distinguished. 

 

Yet something makes him pause, keeps his manicured hand from forming the gesture, the pinch. This child is his… it might follow that the youngling would be powerful in the Force. Not guaranteed. After all, his own father was inept in the Force, and Palpatine is nothing like Cosinga. Preferring not to dwell on the matter, Sidious pushes forward with a tendril of the Dark Side, but the shadows convey nothing. The child could be exceptional, or it could be underwhelming. The Force surrounds its presence and keeps all probes deflected.

 

Perhaps he will simply wait until the child is born. Decide then.

 

And if Anakin returns, when Anakin returns, will the child change everything even more? A whisper of the Dark Side curls along his ear and whispers perhaps you could have it all and he tightens his grip on the woman. Padmé twists a little in his arms and stirs, and Sidious relinquishes his hold only reluctantly.

 

If she wakes up, he will be forced to entertain her, and right now he needs to think. This… was not in his plan, certainly not in the Grand Plan, and he can so easily imagine Darth Plagueis’s elongated, emaciated face wearing a satisfied leer to know the trap his apprentice is courting.

 

He thinks of her, long ago and nearly forgotten now – what a young fool he was! – and the lesson his master made of his impulsive rebellion. He never made that mistake again.   

 

But there is no Plagueis now to make him regret claiming Padmé Amidala. And he has. He has claimed her, even to the extent of putting a child in her womb. If he wishes to keep the child, to keep Anakin, to keep Padmé, something will have to change. The chances of the child not looking like him, not sharing his traits, are too small to leave to fate, and Anakin would know once the child was born, if not before.

 

Sidious thinks of Anakin. The young Jedi Knight adores him as a friend and mentor, Palpatine has known this since the days he took young Anakin under his wing and showed him the truth of life on Coruscant far from the Jedi Temple. Back then, Anakin’s bright adolescent eyes had looked at him with nothing but pure and simple worship. It had a strangely calming effect on the Sith Lord at the time, as though all his planning would be guaranteed to come to pass.

 

But lately… ever since Anakin awoke into his vibrant young body at the beginning of the Clone Wars, ever since he married the Naboo senator in secret, something has changed in the way Anakin acts around Palpatine. He is quieter, more willing to listen and watch, and his outbursts have been fewer when he visits. The young man almost acts as though he has grown up, or at least is willing to try to impress the people he cares about.

 

Not that he could ever hide the dragon in his heart.

 

Sidious grins as his fingers stroke the soft brown hair of Anakin’s sleeping wife. Not for the first time, he wonders how Anakin would react if he walked through the door of the bedroom, how his brilliant blue eyes would light up in shock to see his friend and wife lying naked together in post-coital bliss.

 

Would the boy be seized with irrational, wonderful hate? Would he lash out with the Force as he lashed out against Clovis, accept the Dark Side fully in his wrath? Unlikely, by any calculation. For one, Palpatine is Chancellor of the Republic protected by the galaxy’s best security, not a Separatist two-bit sympathizer, and for another, Palpatine is one of Anakin’s dearest friends. Of course, it wouldn’t be pretty, the Sith Master admits. There would be hurt, and anger. So much anger, which is, in itself, its own raw beauty.

 

Unless…

 

Unless Anakin is not taken by surprise. Unless Anakin knows what he is getting into… if he wants…

 

The Sith Lord sucks in a soft breath as the Dark Side opens a new future to his sight, the material world around him dissolving into hazy shadow, the Force clarifying into sharp relief. Suddenly, as though he has entered another universe, he is plunged into a vision so real he can taste the wild power on his tongue. And something more.

 

“Oh gods!” Padmé cries out as he grazes his teeth over her hardened nipple, her body writhing under him, her hands sinking into his silvered hair and gripping hard enough to hurt. Delicious pain…

 

But it is not only them sharing this wide, opulent bed. He lifts his head and looks below.

 

Below, Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight and Chosen One of the Force, lies like a powerful and victorious warrior between her legs, large and calloused hands holding her thighs apart, grinning up even as he licks at the sweet place between her folds and claims the spoils of his victory. Padmé shudders in Palpatine’s arms, but he holds her still, relinquishing his affections only long enough to capture her full lips with ravenous hunger, curling over her.

 

Padmé moans into his mouth. This is his moment of triumph, the two young people in his bed completely in his thrall.

 

But then Anakin laughs, deep and throaty and delightfully possessive, and reaches for the older man with his hand of metal. The cool limb catches Palpatine on the ribs and trails down his spine, and then it is Palpatine’s turn to jerk and shiver when the cold metal slides lower over his skin.

 

“Anakiiin…” he growls, attempting to twist away, alarmed at the pleasure Padmé is providing, and the numbing shock of Anakin’s playful and slow explorations. Padmé’s delicate hand curls around the back of his neck, and she pulls his head down for a deeper kiss…

 

The Force ripples with warning.

 

Sidious shudders and manages to close the Force vision before it can progress any further. For a moment, he lays silently against Padmé, almost too stunned to breathe, concerned that even she might be able to feel the tumult of the Force roiling in him. Long has it been since the Force took him by surprise like this. But no, she continues to lie quietly, hands curled near her gentle face.

 

Sidious suddenly cannot stand to be near her, and he slips his arms free with the barest suggestion of sleep in the Force. Carefully, he edges onto his back and stares darkly at the ceiling. Is this the path they will take by continuing this masquerade? If so, if so… Palpatine fights back a wave of nausea and disgust. He does not want the Chosen One in his bed, certainly not manhandling him as if the Sith Master is some meek bed-wife. He will never be touched again if he does not wish it so.

 

He does not wish it so… not with Anakin. Not with a Jedi, even if he flirts with Darkness more than any Jedi ever should. Even if his fledgling darkness calls like the sharp scent of an intoxicating wine.

 

Yet, the Force continues to whisper to him with echoes of the future. He cannot indulge it here, when Padmé could wake up any moment. Rebellious, the Dark Side presses on his thoughts. If you allow him to become your lover, it would be one more link to him, one more reason he would never turn against you. The fate of the Jedi Order would be sealed.

 

Sidious tries to slow his elevated heart rate as the future unfolds with tantalizing surety. It makes him feel young again, untried again, desperate to test his powers against the universe, to laugh in its infinite face.

 

You could take them both, he your loyal apprentice, she your right hand in government. If you could break her of her naïve expectations therein.

 

He could do it, too. He is well placed to lure them both to their destinies. Sidious curses softly in ancient Sith, under his unsteady breath. He doesn’t want the boy in that way. He would be happy never touching another male again.

 

But protected by the Chosen One, your child could be the start of a Sith dynasty like the galaxy has never known. Your reign, endless.

 

Would Padmé be open to the idea? Already she has sullied herself with an affair, something she has embraced in the secret moments between them. Would it be so difficult to convince her that Anakin might also benefit from their arrangement? It might even, Sidious thinks with a sideways glance at her pale shoulders and curled hair, assuage her guilt. It might pull her further into his Darkness, harden her to what must be done.

 

The Sith Lord sighs in quiet contemplation as he mulls the prospect over.

 

The Dark Side is no forgiving ally, he has known this since Hego Damask walked into his life, and perhaps before in the loneliest moments of his childhood, when his body ached from Cosinga’s fists and boots.

 

Padmé is a delicate creature, soft and gentle, but there is a hardness buried deep under her soothing exterior, the same hardness that drove her into a bargain with Boss Nass on Naboo, the same hardness that led her clawing up the column out of reach of the nexu’s teeth. Perhaps his little Queen could indeed survive dwelling within the realm of the Dark Side, with him to protect and teach her.

 

What a challenge that might be, and with Anakin at their sides, his eternal enforcer, who could stop them?

 

Nothing but your own hubris, he snarls silently at himself. Be wary, he needs to be wary more than ever now, when emotions are high and lines are blurred and he is not certain what the future holds at this moment.

 

When he sits up abruptly, it is enough to wake Padmé from her Force-influenced slumber, and he glances down to see her languidly stretch and roll onto her back. He sees her small nipples as she arches like a lazy feline, hardened from the chill in the air. His apartment has already begun the late evening cooling stage; Palpatine prefers a cold environment for sleeping, when he can bury himself under multiple layers of thick, luxurious red bedding. When he can put as many layers between himself and the world, and drift on the currents of the Force and his glorious future.

 

Padmé blinks up, then her soft brown eyes widen, and she sits up as well. “Palpatine?” she whispers and then yawns. “What are you doing?”

 

He smiles, allowing the right corner of his mouth to tip up. “Thinking, my dear.”

 

“On…?”

 

“How entirely delectable you are right now.”

 

Padmé flushes scarlet. “You w-were not!” she protests weakly, hands rising subconsciously to cover her perky breasts, but he can tell that his playful compliment has her flustered more than she wants to admit.

 

He can still sense the pleasure simmering in her core, sleeping only, ready to boil at his touch, able to be awakened whenever he needs an edge over her. How easy it is to play with her, and yet… he wants more. So he talks to cover his intentions, as any talented politician might do.

 

“You don’t know the effect you have on men, Padmé. If I were not such an impeccable gentlebeing, I would take you right now.”

 

Padmé stares, eyes wide with lust and eager, hungry. “You needn’t stand on ceremony, Chancellor,” she murmurs, gaze casting downward in demure submission, and Sidious can barely stop the wave of satisfied triumph from sweeping down his spine in a shiver. Instead, he leans toward her and purrs soft words in her ear.

 

“For that, Padmé, I want you completely awake. Aware of every moment, every… movement…”

 

Padmé’s shiver can’t be stopped, and she makes no effort to try.

 

Palpatine grins as he pulls back and turns to ponder the end of the bed, as though preoccupied. Sure enough, a slender arm winds its way to link with his, and then her head is resting cautiously against his shoulder as though Padmé is afraid this intimacy is going too far.

 

It is, but he says nothing, and hopes she cannot feel the new tenseness in his limbs.  For a long moment, neither of them speak as the room’s air filters hum gently in the background.

 

“Did you have a nightmare?”

 

“What?” Palpatine looks askance at her.

 

Padmé looks down, embarrassed, and her words flood out in a rush. “I thought I heard you call out, say something, a little while ago. I thought it was only my own dreaming, but when I woke and found you sitting, I…”

 

“I’m quite all right, my lady.”

 

She didn’t – or wouldn’t – take the hint. “Was it the Republic?”

 

Palpatine eyes her. “What?”

 

“Were you dreaming about the Republic? Sometimes, I dream about it coming to an end. One long….” She shudders. “…nightmare. Anakin usually wakes me up before it ends.”

 

Not this time, he thinks savagely, then tugs the beast under his ruthless control. Something must have twitched in his face, because Padmé accepts it as an open invitation to tighten her arm around his.

 

“Are you afraid the Republic won’t… won’t survive?”

 

She clearly is.

 

Sidious adopts an expression of calm confidence. “I’m entirely certain my government will make it through this difficult challenge.”

 

Padmé stares, and then laughs. A laugh like soft bells, clear and inviting. “Your government?” she teases, but with the edge of his executive powers cautioning her tone. “What about our government, what about mine?”

 

It could be yours as well, he thinks, and stops in sudden bafflement. That was not efficient thinking. “You know what I meant. My administrative office will see the end of this war, I guarantee you that.”

 

Padmé sits a little straighter, and he knows she is thinking of his office, long past the original dates of his terms. “Maybe we should open another round of peace talks, Palpatine,” she says quietly, hopefully.  “They might be ready to listen this time. We’re advancing on nearly every front, or we’ve at least neutralized their advances.”

 

He wishes he could laugh, just let the durasteel control go and laugh. All of her victories and defeats alike came from his hand. Victory and defeat, advance and retreat: all useless terms to him when his machinations had created the very fabric of the war.

 

She is… so naïve, and yet formidable. What might she be like, if someone opened her eyes?

 

Palpatine looks at her, his brows furrowing in concentration. “Peace talks have been attempted before. You’ve always seen individuals in a positive light, Padmé. Sometimes, what you are looking for, simply isn’t there.”

 

Padmé sighs loudly and slips onto her back in the bed, and seconds later lifts up on her elbow to look at him, her voice carrying a note of firm disbelief. “But there is good. There’s good in everyone. I know there is. I think of my old friend, Mina Bonteri, and I think there have to be more like her.”

 

He allows sadness to curve his lips downward. “I wish I shared your enthusiasm, my dear. But, it simply isn’t so easy as that. You shall have to have enough for the both of us. I think you can manage that.”

 

She narrows her beautiful eyes. “Are you mocking me?” 

 

“No, no, this time I am not.”

 

Padmé nods, solemn and sober. “This war takes its toll on all of us.”

 

Palpatine quirks one silver-and-ginger eyebrow up and hums thoughtfully. “Does it?”

 

A shy smile flits across her face. “Take you, for example. Remember when you used to be a relaxed Senator?”

 

“I don’t recall that at all, actually,” he says, but smiles back. The mood in the room is changing, and he welcomes the reprieve. “Either my memory is going, or Naboo shielded you from the worst of galactic politics when you were Queen.”

 

Clearly grateful to be led away from the shadows in her mind, Padmé plays along, pulling a haughty, high-born façade over her eyes and lips. “It must be the memory. I was very well informed as Queen of our people.”

 

More quickly than a narglatch seizing a kaadu chick, the disguised Sith Lord turns on the Senator, bringing her to lie under him, their bodies pressed together in a sudden heat that makes Padmé gasp. He traces her trembling lips with one elegant finger and grins. The low light catches the glint of sharp white teeth.

 

“If my memory serves me well, I promised you something, Your Majesty….” He leans closer and growls against her ear, “We still have much to discuss…”

 

Padmé’s jaw works soundlessly, then when she speaks again, he is captivated by the raw, throaty neediness of her voice.

 

“Tell me more.”

Chapter Text

He leans over her right shoulder and kisses her there in the little dip of sensitive skin, the pressure cool and smooth, and Padmé shivers. This is simply… divine… Waiting for him to finish the kiss at his leisure, sensing in him a powerful need to be the one leading this time, she smiles up, even though she knows her expression betrays her nervousness to still be in his bed. She’s come twice already tonight, and she can’t quite believe it yet. She has never been able to hide herself from him. Her true thoughts and hopes and dreams.

 

Maybe this is all a magnificent dream… Maybe she’ll wake up and she won’t have been the unfaithful wife who can’t stop herself from adoring this man, from desperately wanting this man.

 

Palpatine’s own smirk fades as he watches her, to be replaced with a serious, solemn press of those thin lips into a firm line. “What is wrong, Padmé?”

 

Are they so in tune, that they can feel each other’s worry in a moment? But when Padmé thinks about it, nothing about it is truly surprising. Palpatine has the measure of her, perhaps more than any other, perhaps more than even Anakin understands. Anakin… will Anakin ever understand this? Could Anakin ever understand why this happened? It’s too much to ask of him, too much.

 

The Chancellor is patiently waiting, propped on his elbows over her.  

 

That isn’t even the worst of the thoughts plaguing her.

 

“If-If Anakin doesn’t come home, what will happen to us?” She hates to even think about it, and here it is helplessly tumbling out of her mouth.

 

“You love him a great deal,” the Chancellor pauses and looks down at the sheets he rolls between his fingers. For a moment, his pale gaze carries only a deadly seriousness. “Do you think he is truly gone?”

 

She thinks. “No… no, but I don’t know how long that will last.”

 

“Then focus on the positive for now, Anakin is a brilliant young Jedi and incredibly talented. I’m sure if anyone can survive that mission, he will,” he encourages softly, his deep rumble vibrating over her, and she tries to ignore the curl of ignited heat in her belly. Now is not the right time for this. He is speaking again, “When the tides come in, they often bear gifts.”

 

Padmé looks fully up at him, at his lined, aristocratic face and wants to touch him. She wonders if he will ever feel at ease with her hands on him. “Are you quoting the Holy Passages at me?”

 

He quirks a smile. “Is it helping?”

 

“Maybe.”

 

“Then naturally.”

 

She giggles, the sound abrupt and loud in the room, and she’s suddenly grateful that he can make her laugh, even now in this crazy mad galaxy. “Every time we speak, I am reminded of what a slippery politician you are, Chancellor. Basic is so easy for you to twist and spin like the moonbeams in the Nightweaver’s hands.”

 

He tilts his head thoughtfully. “Basic is too simple at times. I… we cannot always share the multitude of meanings that we wish to convey.”

 

His hand drifts low over her thigh, nimble fingers trailing centimeters from her center. “But then, there are other ways…”

 

Padmé sucks in her breath sharply, her body arching up just the slightest, her legs wanting so badly to part and invite him closer, closer... 

 

He pulls away instead, leaving her bare flesh covered in tight clenching shivers. She draws in a soft sigh of disappointment and reminds herself to behave. She feels him looking at her and struggles to change the subject. "Why is our world so complicated, anyway?"

 

He raises fine ginger-silver eyebrows, playing along with her obvious intent. "Is it?"

 

She smiles. "You know it is. Our language, our dress, the so many colors and meanings. Anakin gets so confused by it all, and he asks me how I keep it straight." 

 

Palpatine nods, looking more like a sage academic advisor and less like a lover in this moment. She hides a quick smile. "Of course, he is not native. He would not understand the complexities of our people, Padmé. And why should he be expected to?"

 

She takes a deep breath. "I shouldn't talk about him like this, like he's halfway gone. I shouldn't even be here... This certainly isn't the way of our people." Fighting a blush, she thinks of how scandalized her mother and father would be if they knew. This would break them; they were too traditional, too set in the old ways. So was she… she once thought.

 

Now… the worlds have turned upside down.  

 

Palpatine appraises her openly, eyes tracking down her curves. "Go back far enough in our history, and you might be surprised what the royalty managed to do with their leisure time. Besides, you and I are not typical Naboo in many ways, my lady. We have seen...too much...to ever go back to the blatant innocence of isolation." 

 

His words bring a knowing heat to her cheeks and core alike, and Padmé bites her lip, worrying it between her teeth and only belatedly realizing the faint gleam of hunger in his patient gaze. She realizes with a start what she has been doing, something she picked up from Anakin but which possesses an entirely different meaning on Naboo. 

 

And here is her fellow Naboo, well aware of the myriad of courting signals developed over hundreds of years of palace intrigue. Looking amused and hesitant alike, waiting for her to decide what she truly wants. A Naboo gentlebeing to the quick.

 

She knows the signal she just sent. A worried lip is a lip aching to be kissed, to be taken. 

 

And suddenly, in her frightened loneliness, she aches to be kissed and held and other, deeper things to be done to her body until it sings with pleasure like the singing shore rocks of Naboo's southern seas. Suddenly, she wants him over her, covering her like the waves pounding over open sand. 

 

Pounding into her.

 

She moans softly at the thoughts, the images of him settling between her soft thighs, his wonderful length parting her folds. But when she opens her eyes again, he remains motionless over her, expression closed and neutral with a serious glint in his eyes. 

 

It only makes her arousal worse. "Please, Palpatine," she whispers in Naboo. His eyes light like distant flames at the ancient accent in his name. "Help me forget for a little while. Torture me no longer..."

 

He still does not move. "What would you have of me, my lady?" Have. She shivers. So bold, so forward, two could play this game. 

 

"Everything," and she gasps when his hand slides down her belly and between her legs, cupping her wet desire. Her lips flush when long fingers caress her, spreading her folds and dipping in only enough to drive her mad with lust. 

 

A deep chuckle, amused and triumphant.

 

He leans down and captures her lips with his own, tilting her head back with his other hand around her throat, loose and gentle and endlessly possessive. 

 

Padmé feels her mind and protests melting away under the thrumming of his teasing touches. Momentarily overwhelmed by the headiness of his proximity, she launches an attack of her own, slipping her tongue deep between his lips and plundering his mouth. 

 

Ravenous. Demanding. 

 

For a moment he freezes, as though surprised. She finds his slack tongue and curls her own around it with dexterous agility. Anakin always liked this…

 

The deep, half-strangled groan that comes from him sends tendrils of liquid heat straight to her throbbing core where his fingers sink deeper into her at last and her legs spread wide. 

 

She pulls back only long enough to whisper, "Absolutely everything, Palpatine. Give to me what all you have to offer." She lets her eyes fall wantonly over his lean body, drinking in the sight of pale skin and wiry muscles, the trail of pale hairs leading out of sight beneath the shimmersilk sheets raised around his narrow waist. 

 

His eyes flash dangerously at her innuendo, but he falls easily into the more archaic form of speech. "My all will be yours, my lady, if you can suffer me."

 

Padmé squeals and bucks up when his long index finger ruthlessly curls in her channel. She forgets entirely about the playful banter and gasps out in stricken Basic, "Kriffing hells!" 

 

Palpatine chuckles and stills his fingers. "Anakin appears to be making an impression on you. I hear that more and more out of your naughty little mouth, it seems."

 

She blushes, and then squirms when he continues to hold steady, his fingers buried in her and unmoving. "I could curse before he came along, you know that as well as I do, Chancellor."

 

He looks unconvinced. “I don’t remember words like that before all this started, especially not when you were royalty…”

 

He is trying to distract her from what his fingers aren’t doing. Padmé forgets her indignation and wriggles desperately against his hand and muffles a sob of frustration. "Oh please, Palpatine...."

 

He smiles. "Are you certain, my lady?"

 

Certain? Certain you’re enjoying torturing me! She tries to catch his wrist and push herself down on his fingers, but he slips out of her grip with perfect ease - how? - and then he is lowering himself the length of the bed, pulling the sheets off her fired body, coming to rest with his head between her legs, his hands pressing her warm thighs to the mattress.

 

Padmé sits up in alarm, or tries to, but he reached up and places a firm hand against her chest and pushes her back. "You... You don't have to..." She stammers, suddenly embarrassed, suddenly nervous. She can’t imagine him… down there, servicing her.  

 

But he grins at her, the very definition of a mischievous, timeless god of Chaos. "Of course I don't..." He purrs. And lowers his head. 

 

The young Senator cries out at the first brush of his lips and tongue on her heated cunt, a feather touch that brings her body up off the bed, all but her hips which he holds in place as he tastes her with slow, precise, elegant flicks of his tongue, leaving her shaking and taut, grabbing on to whatever she can reach. One of her searching hands tangles in his silver hair, so soft and still with faint strands of red along the short-cut, slicked back curls.  

 

He hisses on her skin when she tugs at his hair, and Padmé is too far gone to notice when he moves her hand away and pins it firmly at her side with more force than strictly necessary. She shudders when he finally lifts his head and she can see herself glistening on his parted lips. He… he used his mouth, that mouth, on her. The mouth that charms trillions, the mouth that commands legions and armies. Serving her. Bringing her a sole, exquisite pleasure that no one else can currently claim to enjoy.

 

She’s sure of that now, the way he acts, the way he shies away from the intimacy of all others.  

 

He comes to her then, rising up over her and kissing her until she can taste herself on him too, sweet and intoxicating. She’s never tasted herself so clearly, and the singular moment sends her mind unraveling to spool in her belly, and all she can think is that he deserves some reward for this service rendered. She can feel his arousal against her leg, and if she twists just a bit...yes... And reaches under... Ooh, yes...

 

He gasps when her small hand wraps around his length and squeezes, testing his hardness. He twitches helplessly between her rolling fingers, his hips still tightly reserved, that infinite control he possesses. " Padmé," he growls. “You like to live dangerously, don’t you?”  

 

Maybe not quite infinite, she thinks giddy and hungry, her core throbbing with desire for what she holds in her hands. He is even and smooth, not too thick as to be painful, and long enough to fill her well. She rubs her thumb over his sensitive tip, pleased to feel the leaking precum and the little jerk of his cock under probing fingers that tells her he is hers in this moment. 

 

His whole body shivers when she continues to pump him along his silky shaft. He wants her. There is no other explanation. But he waits for her this time, lets her work him into a state of arousal that leaves her clenching on the empty air and him as tense as one of the gods’ ancient bowstrings. 

 

Finally, Padmé can stand it no longer, and she guides his length down to match against her core. They pause, and eyes meet milk brown and icy blue. Padmé can feel his tip pressing into her, her body yielding under his advance, and he is suddenly moving into her, filling her. 

 

When he settles for the first time, the single soft sigh he offers is drowned out by the pleasure cascading over her nerve endings.

 

"Aaahh," she moans when he lifts her hips and adjusts his entry. He is so hot, so there! Inside her, rubbing against her tender walls until her vision blurs. Palpatine bites his lip as she clenches around him, swelling walls folding down to capture his cock and hold him in place. The sight winds her tighter yet, that he is struggling for control because of her.

 

Her body begs for him, from the flush on her chest to the peaks of her hard nipples rubbing against his chest, to the blood rushing to engorge her netherlips and core. Her body opens willingly, wantonly, desperately!

 

Palpatine growls something too low to be heard, a language she does not understand, though it is faintly familiar. Then he withdraws and thrusts into her with a gentle motion of his narrow hips. Padmé grips his shoulders, all tight coiled muscle and sharply defined bone structure. 

 

And marvels that this belongs to her now.

 

Their bodies move together in the ancient dance, twisting and writhing and heaving, delicate and destructive in turn. Padmé feels incredibly powerful; a dangerous wild edge that brings the warnings of power all back into her head, but she refuses to listen because he is hers, the wild, mysterious, untamed Naboo, the noble that no one else dares to claim. 

 

The Naboo some say is daring to claim the entire galaxy, though she can’t believe that, not yet.

 

She leans forward and nips at his shoulder and collarbone, and he stares at her with fire slowly gutting his eyes of their icy blue tone. "Mine," she whispers in Naboo, in the tone of royalty that proclaims her subjects. She was his queen, after all... perhaps this will mean something to him, some comfort to him in a world not his own?

 

He laughs, throaty and low and so unlike his usual gentle laugh that she experiences a tremor of misgiving. Has she gone too far? Anakin liked - likes it, but this is not Anakin, not at all. But Palpatine seems to like it now, for he lowers his head and nips her gently in return, and then harder, hard enough to make her wince and clutch at his shoulder, and the significance of his defiance, his complete and utter lack of submission to his superior in their culture, is clear to her. 

 

And it excites her. How like him to break open the barriers of tradition! Here on Coruscant he has deigned himself her equal, and they are. Equal to the task that must be finished now!

 

The air thickens between them like an irretrievable promise has been struck, a bargain made through teeth and willpower. When his bite digs deeper with a low snarl and dares to draw the slightest pinch of blood, startled she scratches her nails into his back, raking down the lean length of him, reaching further and more possessively than she has either time before. 

 

He jerks her hands back up.

 

Something new soaks into the atmosphere, something dark and dangerous and Padmé can’t help the thought that a door has closed behind them, that they’ve entered a new realm. Always so gentle before, now he reacts with hungry aggression, and she can’t blame him because she brought him to this point.

 

Besides, she can feel the aggression too, like a heady wine but leaving her thoughts clear enough that she knows what she wants. She wants him. Wants him to know he belongs to her.

 

She reaches again for the swell of his firm buttocks, curious and possessive, possessed, and this time Palpatine grabs both of her hands and pins them above her head, hard enough against the headboard that it hurts, it actually hurts, and she emits a little squeal of surprise.

 

He freezes, as though waking up, and instantly releases her hands, and Padmé rubs at her wrists in dazed lust, but the pain coils into something else entirely, transforms in seconds to a need that only he can fulfill. She’ll think about it later. She can’t think now, oh Shiraya not now! She arches against him. “Please, Palpatine, please please please…”

 

Palpatine grins darkly down at her, his face shadowed more than usual in the dim light. She doesn’t have time to ponder this because he gathers up her hands again, but this time he places one of his in each of hers and allows their fingers to twine together in intimate flattery of their bodies, pressing her down into the mattress with each easy inward stroke.

 

The stars gather over his shoulder, and she gives him the control he wants so badly, lets his body take her out into the night and away beyond the pale of the horizon…

 

Shiraya forgive me…

 

She is lost.

Chapter Text

Padmé blinks at the sensation of being held in strong arms while waking up, and her bleary mind wonders how Anakin managed to sneak into their apartment again without her noticing. He is very good at that. She snuggles a little closer and, half asleep, reaches for the hand that is tucked protectively around her shoulder. She pulls it loose and studies it with a murmur of delight.

 

So smooth, and slender, and pale, somehow still masculine but with long and delicate fingers, perfectly manicured….

 

Wait… Her mind begins to wake up. Anakin’s hands are large, tanned, thick and powerful. Anakin hates manicures, she knows that because she has tried to give him one on more than one occasion, and he always squirms out of her reach laughing and saying that at least he trims his fingernails, and that’s good enough for the Chosen One so it should be good enough for her.

 

Calmer times then. She misses them.

 

Padmé wakes up more and comes to the realization that this isn’t Anakin’s hand. The previous night comes rushing back into her memory with a suddenness that makes her blush and freeze with the hand trapped between hers.

 

Outside, the morning light of Coruscant’s sun begins to peek in through the wide transparisteel window on the far wall of the bedroom. No blinds. A one-way window, she hopes with sharp embarrassment and more than a little arousal. How had she missed it last night? And surely Palpatine would not have a two-way window in his private sanctuary. No, that would not be like him at all. Besides, his security wouldn’t allow it.

 

As she lies there and considers the night’s events, Padmé cannot find it in herself to feel ill at ease. Something about the way the morning light plays in the corners of the room, the way she can hear the speeders and busses droning through the highest levels of Coruscant’s traffic lanes. This feels almost normal, the way she can lie here not worrying about how Anakin will get back to the Temple in time to avoid detection.

 

Her traitorous mind whispers of what if to her. What if Anakin swore off the Jedi Order so they could have a normal life together, waking up lazily in an apartment like she is doing now? What if she had come to Palpatine before Anakin and allowed that spark to flame high? What if there were some way to reconcile the two and ease her mutilated heart?

 

“Mmm, you’re thinking deeply again, Senator. Should I be worried?”

 

Padmé starts and turns, finding her small nose centimeters from his long one, his blue eyes looking at her openly amused. Her gaze drops to the thin lips, and the memory of what they can do shivers her down to her bones. She manages a stuttered, “Good morning, Chancellor.”

 

“Good morning, Padmé,” Palpatine lets her cling to his hand, not reacting to the way her fingers tighten on his at her name, but he has obviously been awake for some time because his eyes are bright and calculating again, not clouded with the dark lust that gripped them both like ravaging animals just hours ago. Just hours ago she was… she was…

 

Padmé blushes to think of the things they did, because in the morning light, what happened last night is feral and distant, like a dream that makes her ache in her core and wish that it had been real. But unlike a dream, last night… was real. She can barely remember the waves of pleasure that buried any half-hearted protests of her conscience few and far between, but she can remember how he looked over her, a fierce and positively wild expression in that normally mild face, a possessiveness that burned her like fire and left her thirsting for more in the same breath.   

 

It’s absurd, but she feels somehow like they claimed each other last night. He bit me… Shiraya above, I bit him! What was I thinking? And the other things that came after, the way she moved on him like something possessed, like lovers dancing under Shiraya’s full light. The rules they had broken, the sheer simple passion… the acts, oh gods and goddesses, the acts!

 

She wasn’t thinking, that much is clear. She let her emotions get the better of her, and she cringes now to think of what the past kings and queens of Naboo must think of her loss of control, her wild ways. She can’t claim Sheev Palpatine of Naboo when she has already claimed Anakin Skywalker of Tatooine. Can she? No, it isn’t proper, it isn’t right.

 

Says who?

 

She tries to ignore the small whisper that seems to come from everywhere and nowhere at once.

 

She fails.

 

Her weak heart wants them both, to cling to them both and give her love liberally. But the one can never know about the other, and the other is a high-risk, high-profile leader of the galaxy. Her mentor, her friend of many years (and crush of olden days, but he can never know that), her Chancellor. Could she really manage such a balancing act? Eventually someone will discover the whole truth, and then the world she has built on such shaky foundations will come crashing down.

 

Scandal like no other. Palpatine censured, Anakin expelled, the war effort stalled in the face of unethical behavior. Of course… she thinks, if no one knows she is married to Anakin, then she is free to pursue Palpatine in public. But Anakin… she can’t hurt him like this.

 

This has to be the last time.

 

The thought threatens to break her lingering contentment, and Padmé determines with all the stubborn strength of the Naboo that if this is the last time, she wants to make it count. She wants to apologize to Palpatine, beg his forgiveness, but words fail her again like they never did, and all she knows is that her body can do the talking for her.

 

They lie under cool sheets of silken red, bunched around her pert breasts and loosely draped over his thin waist. She starts with a gentle hand on the side of his face, turning onto her back to look up at him. Palpatine tenses instantly.

 

Padmé hesitates. She is discovering that there are places on him that he dislikes being touched. Last night she remembers gripping his head to pull him down over her, and there was no reluctance there in that fight for dominance, but now… now the lazy ease in his eyes has disappeared to be replaced with alert watchfulness as though he doesn’t trust what she is planning to do with this soft caress.

 

What secrets are you hiding behind your mask, Palpatine? What makes you recoil from intimacy like this? Is he ashamed for taking her, a married woman, into his bed, or is it something more? Something more tragic? Not for the first time, Padmé wonders who he has taken to his silken sheets before her. Surely at least one woman, perhaps many. Did someone spurn him, to make him so flighty in her arms?

 

Did he lose someone precious to him? She’s never heard of a lover, male or female.

Her eyes narrow, and then widen. Her hand trembles against his jaw, and Palpatine looks intensely at her, questioning and curious. What if…? Wait…. It was just there, on the tip of her mind. A thought so dark and horrible but for the life of her she can’t remember where it was going. She’ll need to think about this later… or maybe she’s just being paranoid… yes, that must be so. It wouldn’t be possible…

 

“I fear you think too much, my lady,” he purrs, and she smiles deviously up, broken from her musings.

 

“Someone has to, Chancellor, because your mind is going to be elsewhere soon.”

 

“Oh?”

 

Her hand slips down his throat to drift over his smooth chest and lower, lower, until she encounters the soft trail of white and red hidden under the sheet. She turns again and presses the tips of her breasts through the thin silk against his torso, licks his throat as her fingers coast like feathers down the sagittal line to the base of his proud, relaxed column.

 

Palpatine hisses softly. “I think I see what you mean, my lady.”

 

Padmé grins and nips his jawline ever so gently because she isn’t brave enough to leave a mark somewhere so obvious. His hand is moving, drawing the sheets down her slender figure to puddle around her thighs, exposing her breasts to the cool morning air, filtered and pleasant and gods! his questing fingers are capable!

 

But this battle belongs to her, this last chance to make him forget everything except the pleasure and joy he has brought her, and none of the guilt she harbors in her soul. This is goodbye, and she makes it meaningful, pulling the sheet off of him as well and wrapping one of her legs over his lean ones as she strokes him gently from root to tip and back, circling her fingers over his satin pale flesh until his whole body trembles and his cock hardens and nudges her thigh.   

 

She shifts tactics when he moans between clenched teeth, carefully gripping him and watching his face as she applies gentle pressure to the bundle of nerves just under his cockhead. His narrow hips jerk instinctively, fluid gathering at the tip. A guttural growl washes over her nerve endings, a warning, a sign that he likes what she is doing but she had better be very careful.

 

Padmé smiles at him, but he isn’t watching her anymore. His eyes are closed, and it seems as though he is concentrating very hard not to lose control.

 

He needs control. Like last night, when he played her body like a finely tuned instrument, drawing sounds out of her that Padmé never knew she could make. The realization doesn’t quite stun her, but Padmé soaks it in. Why would the most powerful man in the galaxy need control so badly, as though he craves it, as though he doesn’t have it every day?

 

She can’t think too deeply about it at the moment, because she has needs just like him, and right now her most pressing need is finding a way to get him inside her. She wonders if maybe… Fighting a naughty grin, Padmé sits up and turns partly on the wide bed. The sheets rustle behind her as he follows suit, curious why she is moving away and leaving him behind unsatisfied and painfully hard.

 

“Padmé…?” Oh, he must be in delicious agony.

 

Taking a deep breath, Padmé lowers herself on her hands and knees in the soft covers and looks back at him. Palpatine is wide-eyed as she has ever seen him, fixed on her face and stormy with mixed grey and blue, wiry muscles taut, his length hard and ready. It could not be more obvious that he wants her.

 

“Take me,” she whispers over her shoulder, and before she can say anything more, he is curling over her, his slender hands are gripping her hips, and his powerful cock is sliding into her heated cunt until she cries out at the hot burn of sheer pleasure, the stretch of her flesh over his, accepting him. It’s a wild, intense coupling with no chance to speak or breathe, a desperation that catches on the shadows and memories of the night before. She yowls like a Theed alley cat when he hits a place deep inside her, and he freezes in place.

 

Padmé turns to look and sees pale eyes burning a question into her. “It’s… it’s okay,” she gasps. “I like it, please, more, Palpatine –oh...”

 

Palpatine nods, and moves again, but his movements are more gentle now, smooth and controlled and purposeful, almost as if he knows what she was trying to do, to offer, drawing both of them toward the perfectly executed climax, one that hits her in the right spot and explodes the universe in bits and pieces of sensation and black holes where the memories should be. They come together, and he fills her in several last thrusts. Padmé collapses like a boned fish, or she would if Palpatine doesn’t hold her against him, which of course he does, drawing her close and rolling them onto their sides in the wide bed where they both pant in intimate tandem.

 

She can feel his smooth chest against her back, hitching with exhaustion and the last throes of pleasure. His cock is still lodged in her, twitching and warm and growing less hard by the moment until he finally slips free, left hand dragging over her hip and between her legs and rubbing lazily at her sensitive clit. Padmé shudders, but it feels so good even coming off the high of their joined bodies that she spreads for him.

 

Then she bites her lip as his other hand teases a long finger through her folds from behind, dipping into her and using the slick mess of her sex to rub along the front of her channel. Between the growing pressure on her clit and the teasing strokes on her swollen cunt walls, Padmé muffles a scream against her arm and comes again, shaking and loose and gasping.

 

He chuckles, almost sleepily, and withdraws his hands at last. “Such a naughty Senator. Simply… insatiable. Aren’t you…”

 

Padmé shivers at the sibilant hiss underlining his taunt. Maybe she is. Maybe nothing but him will ever satisfy her again.  

 

It will make it all the harder to leave him.

 

He makes it worse unknowingly, turning her gently and pressing his thin lips to hers in a gentle, promising kiss, a hint of agile tongue and coiled sensuality.

 

A kiss like this would drive anyone wild, and Padmé is a willing victim.

 

Padmé nearly gives in, then and there, but a lurking spark of indecision pushes her up in the bed. Palpatine allows her up, shifting aside and settling along the edge of the bed. It’s as though he has sensed her inner turmoil. She doesn’t want to hurt him by pushing him away without an explanation, so she scoots forward until she is sitting directly behind him, fingers tracing over his pale skin.

 

“You are troubled,” he sighs. “It’s obvious, Padmé.”

 

She could never hide the truth from him. So hard to say this, but she must for both their sakes, for all three of them, so she forces the words between her lips. “When… if, no, when Anakin comes back, we have to stop meeting like this, and actually… we need to stop now,” Padmé whispers into his ear, her thin arms wrapped loosely around his narrow chest, her head resting on his shoulder. “I don’t want to hurt him, Palpatine. You don’t either.”

 

He twists to look at her, and his eyes are still sharp blue but gleam with a strange light. “It would be the wise course of action.”

 

Even though his voice is soft, Padmé flinches. Suddenly, she is the little girl again, gazing at her mentor and begging silently for his warm approval, because he sounds almost vaguely disappointed. She is disappointed too. She does not want this to end, the sensation of his warm body pressed against hers, his eyes fixed on her, his hands worshipping her until she dissolves like the foam on the seas of their homeworld. Their minds meeting and bodies joined.

 

She forces herself to forget those memories for now and continue. “He would be upset. He would be hurt.”

 

“Would he?”

 

She freezes, her hands pausing on his smooth bare chest. Softly, tentatively, “What do you mean?” What does he mean? What does he want?

 

Eyes briefly closing (he must be nervous, she is starting to learn some of his smallest tells again, things that she has nearly forgotten since being queen), he rotates his head to return his attention to the far side of his bedroom. “Would Anakin truly be upset that you and I have found comfort together in his absence, not knowing whether he lives or not?”

 

“He’d be very angry,” she says, but isn’t sure she believes it anymore. She’s seen the way Anakin watches the Chancellor, as though he worships the ground he walks on. Palpatine’s question has opened a floodgate in her imagination, a scroll of what-ifs, and she leans closer, weakening. “He… he wouldn’t like it…”

 

“At first,” Palpatine corrects. “Perhaps he’s not used to sharing.”

 

“We shouldn’t be thinking like this,” Padmé murmurs. “What you are suggesting is-”

 

“-what you want.” He finishes her sentence lazily, as he has always been able to do since their friendship began so many years ago. He knows her so well, in some ways better than Anakin, and she blushes to think that he knows her as intimately as Anakin does now.

 

Does she want it? Is he right? Padmé closes her eyes and can imagine Anakin kneeling over her, large strong hands on her breasts and eyes shining sky blue love down at her as long slender fingers knead at her hips and a warm wiry body thrusts up under hers… Sweet Force! It’s so wrong!

 

She tightens her fingers on his chest, feels him stiffen under her. It is something she noticed in the locker room and only the night before, how the more experimental she gets with him, the more tense he becomes. It is a mystery, one that she wonders deeply about. Carefully, Padmé slips her hands to his back and strokes downward, marveling anew at the scars that he won’t explain.

 

His skin shivers, as though he both enjoys and loathes her touch, and then he is sliding out of reach when her hands drift carefully lower, curling out of the bed into a shimmersilk robe and lush slippers and moving to the low table by the window. Predictable, Padmé frowns. Too predictable. There is a pattern here. What is wrong?

 

“Palpatine?”

 

He stands in profile, steadying himself on the shiny hardwood with one hand, staring out over the streams of morning traffic.

 

Padmé stays on the bed, somehow sensing that she has entered treacherous territory, though she reaches for the sheet to pull up around her chest. She shouldn’t openly torture him. “What’s wrong, Palpatine? Did I hurt you when I touched you?”

 

“Not at all, my dear. You couldn’t hurt a shaak-fly.” He sounds almost… angry?... when he replies. Why would he be angry about that? Not angry. Defensive.

 

“Something is worrying you,” she presses, and the look he gives her is blank resignation.

 

“Some questions don’t have answers, Padmé. Or shouldn’t.”

 

She shivers at the bleakness of his words, the meaning clear: Don’t ask me this.

 

Is it because he cannot answer, or he won’t? Now isn’t the time to ask, that much is clear.

 

So she tries again to make him see reason. “We cannot put this on Anakin, Chancellor. He’s innocent. The wrong done is between you and me.” Tears spring to the corner of her eyes, and she blinks furiously. “He can’t know about us. It would destroy him.”

 

Palpatine sighs. “He is more resilient than you might think, Padmé. Have a little faith in Anakin.”

 

“I want to give him a reason to have faith in me, Palpatine. And you. You’re his friend. This could change everything.”

 

“Yes,” he says quietly, eyes going distant as though he is imagining such a future. “Yes… it could.” He looks up at her. “But don’t you think, if Anakin is alive, that he deserves the truth?”

 

Padmé feels her heart tearing in two at his soft words. “The truth is that I never should have married him… it was a mistake of youth and passion, but I love him, Chancellor.” It hurt to say it out loud.  And I think I love you too. How can this be possible, to love two men? “And I don’t want to bring him pain.”

 

“So… we hide this? Conceal it from him, and act as though nothing has happened?”

 

If only it could be so easy, Padmé swallows. “We have to try. He’ll come back soon, and, and… we can’t see each other anymore. Distance will help us.” So hard. So hard to say words she doesn’t mean. 

 

The Chancellor looks away from her and stares out the window, his pale blue eyes bright and solemn in the reflection as he considers what she is saying. She sees his right hand close into a loose fist and squeeze.

 

He still wants her, doesn’t want to say goodbye, but because he has always been the gentlebeing she’s known, he only sighs and drops his head forward. “Of course, my lady. Perhaps distance is the very thing we need.”

 

“I’m – I’m sorry,” she chokes, staring down at the blood red of the silk, seeing her white fingers clutching it tight like they are bleeding out. “I wish, wish things could have turned out differently.” Even as she says it, Padmé has no clue how such a thing could be possible.

 

Palpatine turns toward her, eyebrows raised and conveying the same question. When he speaks, he speaks in formal Naboo. “I will always be there for you, Padmé, I hope you understand that. If you require anything, my services shall always be yours.”

 

He is too kind to her, she doesn’t deserve this, but Padmé nods gratefully and accepts the robe he brings her from the refresher. She even accepts the light breakfast of nuna eggs and blue milk that he orders from room service, feeling absurd and silly wrapped in his robes, eating his food as though she belongs there. He doesn’t eat, it’s no wonder he’s thin, but engages his attention in a small datapad with the day’s schedule of endless meetings and publicity showings.

 

She can see his mind already turning to matters of state, blocking the memory of their time together, and Padmé knows she has hurt him deeply. She could not blame him if he removed her entirely from his life. So ashamed, she dresses in privacy and barely looks at him when he calls security to escort her through the private access lifts.

 

“I’m sorry,” she murmurs again as he walks her to the door in genteel silence. He doesn’t answer, expression perfectly Naboo-blank, a look he has rarely ever shown her when it is just the two of them, and the sight spears her under her ribs, sucking the breath away in a sharp jolt.

 

She is Naboo too, and she adopts a similar blank civility and steps into the lift with a single silent Red Guard, still so unnerving and more so now, who escorts her back to the bay where her speeder waits.

 

The entire ride home, Padmé suffers, first because she has potentially ruined her lifelong friendship with Palpatine, and second because she cannot get rid of the mental image of her Chancellor and her Jedi, entwined together in her bed, herself between them and smiling out as though to say:

 

See what you could have had?