Still, she did make one particular preparation. Five minutes before he was scheduled to arrive, she went into the 'fresher and injected herself with a contraceptive serum. A new formula, since the last one had so spectacularly failed her a little less than eleven years ago. Not as long-lasting at the old one, which could in theory keep her protected for two days, but it ought to last the night out. She had to get this taken care of now; if things went a certain way later, she needed to not have to stop to race to the 'fresher. They couldn't afford a pause in which they might start thinking.
The beginning of the dinner was excruciating. Anakin seemed to brood more, and her first attempts to break the silence fell flat. But when he ignored her questions about the twins, she said to him, as angrily as she'd spoken to him in a very long time, "Anakin, whatever happens between us, I'm always going to want to know how our children are."
It was the first time she'd ever referred to them as such. She thought it was that, even more than her tone, that got a reaction out of him. His eyes flew wide, and he made several attempts to say various things, it seemed, before finally asking what Obi-Wan had told her about them the previous year.
After that, they at least kept the conversation going throughout the meal. But they fell silent while putting the dishes away, and the tension rose.
Finally they stood opposite each other, as they had eight times before, and Padmé knew what would happen if Anakin walked away. He would resign as liaison, and then they would go on as usual. Even though neither of them wanted to.
"Do you know what I did two weeks ago?"
An unexpected question, but she was dead sure he had a reason for it. Padmé simply shook her head.
"I killed a man. He was a monster, but I didn't have to kill him, and I shouldn't have, because he'd surrendered. He'd thrown himself at my feet, and requested mercy. He hadn't begged for it though. He knew he'd get it from a Jedi." There was a note of disgust in his voice.
"If he'd begged for mercy, would you have spared him?" she asked, though she wasn't fully sure it even mattered.
And nor did it surprise her in the slightest when he bluntly answered, "No. He'd killed children."
That last bit brought Padmé back to a morning on Tatooine when Anakin had used that tone of voice, and what he had confessed to, and all she could say was, "Oh."
"He'd really tortured them too. You don't understand, Padmé, some of the things I've seen...but when I hacked him to pieces...I felt like I was killing myself. And it felt good. I wanted to destroy myself. Or at least some part of myself that's so big it might as well be called myself."
Tears glistened on Padmé's face-would she ever be able to get through this night without crying at some point?-but she wasn't sure whether they were for him, or for herself. For what she now understood. For what she'd understood thirteen years ago, last time they'd been here, when Anakin had been the one killing the children. Ironically it had been that moment which had driven home to her how hard she had fallen for him in the first place, that her reaction hadn't been revulsion. But in this moment, she'd known that already. No, all there was left to face up to was that she ought to run, and that she might not be able to.
"Padmé," he continued, his voice shaking harder than ever, "when I heard you'd given our children up, I wanted to kill you. I mean I really did; I pictured doing so in my head. That was why I wouldn't see you. I was going to protect you even from myself. I won't let you be hurt. No matter what."
All that should frighten her, but there was no room in Padmé for fear. She waited for Anakin to calm down, for his breathing to become more even, and then she said, "This is it, isn't it? Because all the old gods help me, Anakin, if you kissed me right now, I don't think I'd be able to pull away-"
That was all Anakin needed to hear. Another moment and his mouth was crushed against hers, and through the wild surge of passion and want and almost crushing love that tore through her she felt a calm descend, a year's worth of agony evaporating in the face of her fate being sealed at last.
Then he pulled away, and said, "No. I won't do this to you," and turned away.
She grabbed him and shoved him against the wall. "Too late," she whispered, before she slammed her mouth back over his. She was drinking from his lips as if she had been dying from thirst, and in a way, she had been.
Still kissing like they were both about to die, they backed up into the bedroom. Somewhere along the way Padmé's robes got unfastened, and they tumbled onto the bed with her only in her underdress. He slid it off her as she yanked his robes and leggings off. When his boots got in the way, she ripped them off and threw them across the room. They pulled out her hair pins together, then he buried his face in her hair and inhaled deep. The sight of him clutching at her tresses and pressing them to his skin so desperately was almost enough to make Padmé lose her mind completely.
She flipped him onto his back and her hands roamed his body, reclaiming lost territory. His hands did the same; their arms bumped and wrestled in their need to touch each other. There was a new pattern of scars on his thighs; when she traced them with her fingers he murmured, "Forgive me, Padmé. I'm not as handsome as I once was."
"Nor am I," she replied. "I'm older than you, and have had two children."
But he only said, "You're always beautiful to me," and next thing she knew, she was the one on her back, and Anakin's mouth was all over her, devouring her alive. She clutched at his head, hands tangling themselves in his hair, as he moved between her legs and his tongue ignited a bonfire there, and all she could do was hold on. When she came, she screamed.
They were kissing again, Padmé licking herself off his tongue, and he suddenly pulled away and said, "Wait! The serum!"
"I already injected myself," she told him. "Before you arrived."
His jaw dropped. "You were planning...?"
"For all possibilities."
Their mouths joined again as their bodies did, and as her body stretched around his flesh Padmé was surprised by an overwhelming sense of relief. She hadn't realized before this how much she had craved Anakin, like a drug. For a moment she felt fear again, but she pushed it away, clutched him closer, and lost herself completely in Anakin's body, of him moving on top of her, in and out of her, all around her. She hadn't felt this good in ten years.
It was only afterwards that all her fears returned. Would this make Anakin worse instead of better? Would she be able to stand going through this relationship again, even if they could do it openly this time? How would the galaxy truly react to them? Why kind of Chancellor was she, if she let herself be dependent on a Jedi whose life was always at risk, and one in danger of worse things than mere death besides?
Anakin must have sensed her fear and confusion, because he started gently, "Padmé..."
"Miss Padmé! Master Anakin! You must come here at once and have a word with R2!"
Anakin and Padmé had only time to pull themselves up before Artoo rolled into the room, squealing with unmistakable indignation, and unfazed by the humans' appearance. Threepio followed hot on his heels. "Master Anakin, your R2 unit had to gall to suggest that I...." Then he got a look at the two of them on the bed. "Oh my! Terribly sorry! Come, Artoo, we are being unspeakably rude."
That was when Anakin started to laugh.
Padmé plain could not remember the last time Anakin had laughed like this, falling over while clutching his stomach and bellowing. It was only a moment or so before she joined in, chortling and clutching Anakin like they were a pair of little kids. Knowing the significence of it without having to speak, they lay in each others arms and just laughed.