Drowning in Dreams

BY : Pagan
Category: Star Wars (All) > General
Dragon prints: 11428
Disclaimer: I do not own the Star Wars movie series, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

TITLE: Drowning in Dreams
AUTHOR: KellyB aka Pagan
DATE: Summer 2004 to Winter 2006
SUMMARY: Bits and pieces of Anakin’s life from the end of The Phantom Menace up until the beginning of A New Hope - mostly centered on and around Padmé and Shmi and the importance his dreams and visions played in his life. A little bit of Padmé’s point of view is also included.
TIME PERIOD: End of TPM to the beginning of ANH.
TYPE: Angst/Dark/Drama/Romance – Character study.
RATING: R
WARNINGS: This isn't warm and fuzzy Anakin/Padme. Het/Minor/Lime/Minimal OFC encounters.
DISCLAIMER: I'm just a simple woman trying to make my way in the universe. I intend no infringement on the Lucasfilm characters, situations, or storylines. I'm making absolutely NO money off of this so suing would really be pointless, George dear. This rendering is merely for the titillation of rabid Star Wars fans like me who have WAY too much time on their hands. Bless us one and all.
CRITIQUE: Constructive criticism and comments welcomed - I’ll hear whatever you have to say. Please respond to kellyb701@hotmail.com
ARCHIVE: Sure, just let me know where so I can visit.

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Part One - It Begins…


“Dreams are sweet,
But better flowers are growing at your feet.
If you crush, or pass unheeding, idle friend,
You shall answer for their ruin in the end.”


Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Anakin - Ages 10-14



Padmé embraces him before he leaves Naboo, a haunting echo of the final farewell with his beloved mother. Slender arms encircle him and draw him in. His hot face burrows into the soft curve of her neck and shoulder, and he sighs into her unbound hair. For a split second he’s back under the burning glare of the Tatooine suns, pressed against the rough work dress adorning his mother and reveling in his last taste of home. But the expected comforting smell of cooking fires and musky feminine sweat isn’t there, instead his senses fill with the light fragrance of fragile flowers and scented flesh, and a new memory is mapped. A forever sense of welcome and rightness, of future and hope is born and comes to rest in the corner of his mind reserved solely for this haunting creature of beauty.

All too soon it’s over and she’s releasing him, telling him in her low, musical voice how she will never forget him and that he must promise her that he will study hard and become a Jedi.

While she talks she plays with the piece of japor he carved for her, the one he gave her to insure she would not forget him. He watches her delicate fingers with their manicured nails, mesmerized by the way they absently turn the wooden pendant end over end as a rushing stream tumbles a stone. If he concentrates on that action instead of these unwelcome goodbyes maybe his heart will stop constricting so painfully within the cage of his chest. Perhaps the tears pricking the insides of his eyelids will not fall.

“Be good, Ani.”

Her words are final as if she thinks they will never meet again and for a moment he allows doubt to creep in and darken his thoughts. Didn’t she remember what he told her when they first met? And then a more disturbing thought, what if it was just a fanciful dream after all? What if his vision of the future was somehow wrong?

“I’m going to marry you.”

The image explodes in his head anew, as bright as any supernova and just as brilliantly clear, and then he knows it wasn’t his imagination, knows she does indeed belong to him. But he’s only ten and the words, the confidence it takes to say them and be believed, aren’t there yet, so he ducks his head and mumbles his shy farewells like any other boy would do. Except he’s not a normal boy, he never has been and he never will be.

He’s only half aware of the place inside him where something – a feeling, an idea, a truth – begins to take shape, to coalesce and form. A longing rises up, bittersweet and sharp in the back of his throat, and his heart clenches once more. He isn’t ready to either accept or even comprehend the kaleidoscope of emotions welling up inside so he shies away from the alien feelings in favor of just being a child for a little while longer.

The little boy shuns the beast, but the part of him that enjoys tearing things apart to see how they work, the part that enjoys a challenge, stores away these rather bewildering sensations in order to examine them later at leisure. Then every memory will be carefully revisited, every feeling relived. They will become the mental building blocks in the foundation of his ever growing fascination with Padmé. It is this past time which will cement the obsession born on that otherwise ordinary day in Watto’s shop, an obsession which will guide him one way or another until the day he dies.

In the end the hardest part is walking away. Doing it once was bad enough, twice is pure agony. When he turned away from his mother on the dusty road leading out of Mos Espa, he did so with the knowledge of a similar pair of brown eyes waiting for him at the other end. It was the thought of Padmé which kept him moving forward and following in Qui Gon’s wake that day. Not the desire to be a Jedi, not the idea of finally being free from a life of slavery. Somehow those all-important dreams had been supplanted by the recalled sensation of a soft palm slipping into his calloused grasp, the feel of slender fingers curling around his as she followed where he led.

He tries not to look back but he fails because this time he is not going towards her, but away. She stands there, dressed once more in her handmaiden attire but looking every inch the queen, and he wonders how they never saw it all that time. There is no ancient blood lineage linking her to the throne but her spirit is royal and pure, and it radiates from her like a beacon. Doubts slink in again to whisper words of unworthiness and a cold chill spirals through him.

Padmé sees him freeze half way up the ship’s ramp and an encouraging smile starts to turn up the corners of her mouth as their eyes meet. Suddenly it’s just like it was in Watto’s shop for that blinding moment, that second in time when he told her he wasn’t always going to be a little boy, and the fourteen year old girl’s poise begins to crumble and wilt. Once more, Padmé Amidala finds herself undone by a boy barely ten years of age.

The wordless cry fills the invisible void between them. He isn’t any more aware of projecting it than she is cognizant of where it originates. The connection is just there, they both sense it, they both feel it, and it cements something in Anakin, while at the same time it unsettles Padmé so much she drops the japor pendant without realizing it.

Dark and light. Overpowering and undeniable. Threatening and comforting. A potent mix of emotions flows back and forth like an electric current, raising the tiny hairs on the back of her neck and sending icy hot prickles of sensation through her frame. She feels as if she is standing on the brink of a yawning chasm and is about to topple forward. A sudden sense of hopeless inevitability, of losing absolute control of her fate, nearly yanks her off her feet. The air squeezes from her lungs, making her light headed as a nameless panic rises up like a demon from the nightmares of her childhood. A specter looms over her, faceless, yet hideous and malevolent in its intangibility. It puts into shadow all her previous fears, mocking them as childish and insignificant in comparison.

Only Obi Wan’s unwitting intervention brings it to an end. The Jedi comes back down the ramp with an impatient air and nudges his charge, gesturing for the boy to follow, which Anakin finally does with one last look at the girl standing motionless across the hangar. He swallows his fear and uncertainty, turning from the person he has subconsciously made his emotional touchstone, to follow the man who will shape his future in lieu of the one who fell before his time.

Padmé breathes again only when the ramp closes. The relief washing through her so palatable it makes her nauseous. She cares for the oddly charming little boy who helped save her world but . . . there is something there, something which worries her too. If she were truthful with herself, she would admit it was more a premonition of fear than anything else, but common sense and practicality overrule the fanciful thought even as a heavy wave of dizziness takes her.

It is Sabé who retrieves the wooden pendant from where it lays forgotten on the ground. The queen is unwell.


****


Coruscant is completely different from Tatooine. He notices it more this time than last because now he is here to stay. Now it is his home. The knowledge both exhilarates and frightens him all at once.

On the city planet nature has been obliterated; even the weather is created and controlled by man. Looming building after building stretch as far as the eye can see. From the air the sprawling towers look rather menacing, like thousands of metal fingers intent upon clawing viciously at the sky, ready to swat incoming ships from the air.

Everything is hard lines and smooth surfaces, metal and transparisteel, artificial and gleaming. Men and women, droids, creatures of all shapes and sizes, are crowded in on each other with seemingly little room to move or breathe or stretch out their arms and just spin. He misses the wide open spaces around Mos Espa, the solitude and silence of the endless desert. Most of all he misses his mother.

At times he even misses the old Toydarian and his cluttered junk shop. Maybe that’s why he fills his and Obi Wan’s apartment at the Temple with every spare bit of machinery he can get his hands on. It makes it feel a little more like home.


****


Those first few months he dreams about sand, of all things; sand, oil, dirt, and hot metal – the components that made up the aroma of Watto’s shop. Shmi smiles at him, her face tired and worn but so loved. In these dreams he forgets they are slaves, forgets about Watto. He is with his mother and he is happy. There is a touch on his arm and he knows who it is without turning to look. But he turns anyway, how could he not? Padmé is there just as she was the first time he saw her, not in the guise of either queen or fancy handmaiden, but as a simple girl. Contentment and peace spread through him, a new but wonderful feeling. He is complete here.

He wakes and wishes he had not.


****


The days are filled with lessons upon lessons. He learns and absorbs all he is taught and hungers for more; he always wants more. The newest Padawan excels at every task he is given but it seems it is never enough. No matter how well he does Anakin never really feels fully accepted. They don’t think he hears the whispers or sees the looks always being exchanged. He’s neither blind nor stupid and he would have to be both to not notice the pinched mouths and disapproving glances constantly being cast his way.

Too old.

Too full of fear.

Too dangerous
.

He hasn’t cried since the first week at the Temple and he is determined to never do so again. Strength is drawn from his love for the two women he holds in his heart, his secret talismans. He strives desperately to make them both so proud. He will become a Jedi to free his mother and to prove to Padmé he is good enough for a queen.


****


Solace is found in the Temple Gardens. It reminds him of Naboo. It reminds him of the world and life he wants for his mother. The free time he is allowed is spent in exploration and it is here where he feels soft, green grass between his bare toes for the first time. It is here where he learns the delights of cool water on hot skin for the sake of pleasure alone.

Lying on his back in a clearing he naively thinks he is the first to discover, Anakin dreams of showing the gardens to his mother and Padmé someday. He sees himself in his Jedi robes, lightsaber hanging at his side, hard and heavy against his thigh as he escorts them along paths meandering through the blooms and exotic plants. He sees their delighted smiles and can hear their murmurs of appreciation. He can feel his mother’s arm through his and Padmé’s warm hand curled over his other.

It is not all fun and daydreams however. The gardens don’t tend themselves and Anakin is put to work.

Gardening is an alien concept to a boy from a desert planet but he spends time working the soil and it is not long before he begins to like the feel of black dirt beneath his fingernails. He learns some plants take a long time to establish themselves in their new homes while others, mostly unwelcome weeds, are quicker to send their shoots deep in the soil and push out the desired flowers. He imagines a war waged beneath the surface of the deceptively tranquil garden, a battleground where competing root systems vie for food, water, and space. When the offending plants are ripped from their beds by the Temple gardeners he thinks he can hear them scream.

What does the Order see him as, he wonders, a desired cutting to be nurtured and accepted or as a loathsome weed to be torn by its roots and summarily discarded from hallowed ground?


****


Anakin thinks of them both every day, Shmi and Padmé. Images of them are jumbled in his head now, intertwined so much that sorting them out is impossible. He doesn’t stop to wonder why this is so. He doesn’t try to examine why the mother who loved and raised him for almost ten years shares equal time with a girl he knew for just over a month. It’s just how it is and he accepts it without question.

They aren’t lost on him, the similarities - the traits they share. In his eyes they are equally beautiful with their warm brown eyes and dark hair. Sad smiles light their faces and worry shadows their expressions even as they square their shoulders in preparation for another impossible day. He is drawn to that very strength and goodness, and when he leaves one woman, it is really only to find the same qualities in the other.

The ghost touch of warm fingertips feather across his forehead and he doesn’t know whom he is remembering. It could be his mother checking to see if a fever has left him or it could be Padmé brushing the hair from his eyes as Obi Wan cuts it in the style of a Jedi Padawan. The past bleeds together and most times he cannot tell the mother from the girl or the girl from the mother.


****


In the beginning Anakin lives on the foolish hope there might be a chance to see Padmé. For a time he even thinks it only a matter of waiting just one more day. And then another. And then another. Eventually, his hope dies a slow and painful death. There are no visits. There are no communications. There is only silence.

If she visits Coruscant it is while he is away on some mission. Suspicions form that the Order arranges it this way, that as soon as it is known the Naboo delegation is coming he and his Master are conveniently sent on some off world assignment. Resentment takes root and he nurtures it, guarding it jealously because it's his hurt and he doesn’t want to share it with the very people whom he blames for creating it.

The ripples in the Force do not go unnoticed. In a culture where attachments are forbidden, Anakin’s unfortunate affection for the young queen continues to be noted and quietly, but actively, discouraged.


****


Not a day can pass without thoughts of Padmé infiltrating his mind. During his waking hours he often loses himself in a world of daydreams which have nothing to do with meditating or Jedi history or practicing his fighting technique. When he is supposed to be finding his center and conditioning his muscles through graceful katas repetitions, he is instead concentrating on the memory of a pair of curved lips and hearing the remnants of her sweet voice calling his name. More times than he can count he feels the painful rap of Master Yoda’s glimmer stick or receives a blistering dressing down from a long suffering Obi Wan.

Anakin takes each punishment without complaint, oblivious to a reality which can’t possibly compare to the fantastical future he is building with Padmé in his head. The Jedi can control many things but they can’t control his thoughts or his dreams. He takes comfort in the knowledge his imagination and mind are his and his alone to control.


****


He likes the library best after the gardens. It’s quiet and so expansive he can lose himself in the stacks for hours at a time. Not to study necessarily, just to think and be by himself for awhile. If it doesn’t exactly fool Obi Wan then at least it appeases him, makes his Master think he is staying out of trouble. What the older Jedi doesn’t know won’t hurt him, thinks the much chastised apprentice.

Nimble fingers fly across the HoloNet keyboard. He searches for any information he can find about current events on Naboo, on the queen and her court. Anakin doesn’t use his own personal access code; he’s learned his lesson with the countless lectures suffered and the hours of extra meditation meant to teach him the follies of attachments for a Jedi. Instead he uses one he ‘liberated’ from one of his fellow Padawans. Of late he has become more cautious about broadcasting his interest with Padmé Amidala.

The scene materializes in front of him and he doesn’t even try to contain the grin from spreading across his face. It’s the first new image he’s seen of her in two years. During the farce that was the Trade Federation trials there had been a few official holos released before Naboo had once again faded into the background but since then, nothing. This tiny blurb, already months old, is likely thought newsworthy only because of the recent attempt to have Nute Gunray and his associates brought up on new charges.

He studies the formal setting with more intensity than any boy his age should possess. It’s an official celebration picture taken to commemorate her turning eighteen and also to announce her second - and last - tenure as queen. His eyes search for any signs she has changed but it is difficult to tell since she is costumed in her queenly outfit and heavy makeup. He leans a little closer to get a better look at the solemn brown eyes staring back at him.

The approaching sound of whispers and barely smothered giggles interrupts him and he pulls back quickly, turning off the computer and disappearing around the nearest stack just as two older Twi’lek Padawans make their way past. He watches them go from the safety of his hiding place, debating whether to pull up the image again. In the end he decides against it. It is late and Obi Wan may come looking for him.

He turns to leave but his eyes automatically stray to the blank terminal as if he can still see her face etched on the reflective screen.

Eighteen to his fourteen.

It is an abstract thought. The difference in their ages is insignificant to him. He doesn’t care she is older by just over four years and he never thinks the gap intimidating as most children his age would. Yet he is tongue tied around the female teenaged Padawans in the Temple, blushing and stammering when they tease him about his newest growth spurt or comment on the color of his eyes. But then, they aren’t her. Padmé is special. Padmé is his.

The thought fills him with a fierce longing which stabs him sharply in his gut. It is always this way when he thinks of the future, when he thinks of her. He is older and his thoughts aren’t as innocent as they once were.

Neither are his dreams.


****


Anakin’s first kiss is unexpected. Lips meet and meld. It’s new and exciting but at the same time it leaves him with an empty feeling. After all, he isn’t kissing Padmé. But he thinks maybe this is a good thing because this first kiss is awkward, not like it is in the holovids. He’s not sure exactly where to put his hands and his nose keeps getting in the way. The girl’s name is Nainelle, she’s one of the staff at a spaceport hostel where he and Obi Wan are stranded while they await transportation back to Coruscant during a worker’s strike.

He doesn’t mean for it to happen. For two days he valiantly does his level best to ignore the flirtations of the black-haired girl but she is not dissuaded by his almost surly avoidance attempts. Not even Obi Wan’s disapproving frowns and exasperated mutterings stay her saucy winks and infectious laughter. Her irreverence and lack of awe toward the older Jedi break down Anakin’s already sagging defenses. At fourteen his body hums and pulses with youthful curiosity and a growing hunger fueled by dreams of another. By the time she lures him to the store room under some weak pretext it takes very little effort on her part to coax the inevitable response.

Yet at first he’s almost angry - at this girl, at himself, even at the circumstances of his life. A sense of betrayal twists his insides as if he’s somehow broken trust with Padmé by kissing another. But as Nainelle presses her body more firmly against his, as he discovers she is soft in places where his body is not, it dawns on him how much he has to learn if he is to win someone like Padmé. Reluctance and hesitation slide away. Suddenly he is responding with an almost frightening confidence. Nainelle is caught off guard when the boy she took for an inexperienced novice unleashes the animal within. Before she can fully credit what is happening, she finds herself pressed between the rough stone wall and his lean frame, being kissed back with mind numbing heat and a hunger to match. As his confidence grows, it is all she can do to keep the boy’s hands from roaming where they shouldn’t while he grinds himself against her.

Despite Obi Wan’s vigilance the pair has little trouble arranging secret rendezvous over the next three days. In deserted alcoves or empty rooms, fingers slide beneath confining clothes, mouths brush virgin skin, and Anakin experiences his first release at the hands of another. It is Nainelle’s solution for she dares go no further; her future depends on her purity. But with each encounter it grows more difficult to resist. The young Jedi has but to kiss her, to use his increasingly skillful hands, and thoughts of the risks versus her future disappear in a haze of passionate lust.

When the Jedi depart, it is just in time. If they had stayed any longer, Anakin would likely have succeeded in seducing the older girl. And should he have done so, it would have had dire consequences for Nainelle. On her planet, amongst her people, virginity is a matter of family honor. It is a sacred gift meant only for the future husband. When an unmarried girl is found to be impure, immediate death is the punishment. Unbeknownst to Anakin, but hanging over Nainelle’s head every moment of their time together, this is the fate which awaited her had the young lovers been given a little more time.


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“And yet forever, since time began,
Has man dared woman and woman lured man
To that sweet danger that lurks and lies
In the bloodless battle of eyes with eyes;
That reckless danger, as vast as sweet,
Whose bitter ending is joy's defeat.
Ah! thus forever, while time shall last,
On passion's altar must hearts be cast! ”


Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Anakin – Age 15



His dreams - he drowns in them. Drowns in the pleasure; drowns in the radiance; drowns in the beauty. They make him clamor for something he isn’t quite able to comprehend. Yet he knows he wants this nameless thing more than he’s ever wanted anything in his short life. He can almost touch it, almost taste it, if only he tries hard enough he can possess it.

The dreams come in cool, compelling colors – cascading streaks of green, blue, and the softest of lavenders. They are the colors he associates with Naboo, her home.

In the hazy realm of the subconscious world, Anakin’s burgeoning desires awake, leaving him restless and edgy. He tosses and turns, twisting and kicking his sheets into a tangled mess at the foot of his bunk. Everything aches: his head, his throat, his heart, his rapidly hardening body on the verge of becoming a man.

Brown pools beguile him.

Chocolate silk lures him.

He can’t catch his breath in these dreams. She steals it with her beauty and he never fights her for it, gives it to her gladly. He reaches out for her but she’s maddeningly elusive, dancing away from his outstretched hands time and time again. All the while her handmaiden’s gently mocking laughter fills the air like the tittering of a flock of birds.

Delicate fingers turn a japor pendant end over end under his fascinated gaze.

He awakens with the phantom traces of her fragrance teasing him. The scent mingles with the rich tang of musk and sweat, creating an intoxicating perfume which permeates his small room. It makes him lightheaded, almost dizzy. The feeling leaves him hollow, jumpy and moody for days on end.


********************************************************************


“Dreams are true while they last,
and do we not live in dreams?”


Alfred Lord Tennyson


Anakin – Age 16



Month after month goes by with the same dream in some variation or another returning to stir up his confusion and doubts.

Frustration feeds him. Anakin’s inability to have what he most wants, even if it is only in the intangible world of sleep, is a corrosive acid in his belly. He wonders if it is a portent, a sign events have changed course, and if this somehow means Padmé is no longer meant for him. If this is the case, where does this leave him?

It’s too late! He wants to scream these words of protest to the universe, to the Force, to anyone who will listen. He loves her, of this he is without doubt. No one else inspires him. No one else moves him the way she does. With her he senses he could be so much more than Jedi or slave. He would give his life for hers with no hesitation. He would do anything for her, all she has to do is ask.

The only thing he knows he will never do is give her up. Not now.

Didn’t he give up his mother? Why should he now have to give up Padmé as well? He can’t be asked to do it.

The weight of the Jedi Code chants ‘Attachments are forbidden’ until it’s an incomprehensible drone pressing down on him. No! It’s not fair! The sullen cry reverberates over and over while a roomful of wary Jedi eyes measure his worth and find him lacking.

Within he feels the paths Shmi and Padmé have traced in his heart, imagines the blood rushing through the capillaries, and feels the pounding beat of his life force in his chest. His mother’s love was planted at birth, had taken root immediately, had grown and blossomed over time. But the other love, the new love? It had been sudden and quick but it was no less real, and despite what the Jedi Code dictated, it lives and breathes within him. His love for Padmé has roots so sturdy now, so deep, that excising them is impossible to conceive.

Shmi and Padmé.

One was his past, the other is his future.

Anakin continues to brood, to fret and worry, to rage against the Force until the night comes when his faith is restored; the night he dreams in crimson, yellow, and explosions of brilliant orange; warm, enveloping splashes of color beneath an endless blue sky.

It is this night the sixteen year old dreams for the first time when he reaches out for Padmé he achieves his longed for objective, and in doing so he obliterates almost a year of stomach churning dread. To the tune of the all too familiar tinkling laughter floating on the breeze, Anakin’s fingers finally close around her small hand, taking it prisoner within his warm grasp as blue eyes collide with brown.

Delicate bones and cartilage covered in soft, white flesh. Smooth, rounded nails polished to a dull gleam. He clutches on tightly. It is his reward for enduring months of agony and he is taking no chances.

Brown pools beguile him.

Chocolate silk lures him.

He doesn’t notice as the carved piece of japor slips uselessly from her free hand and shatters upon the ground like the most fragile of glass; a hundred teardrops glittering in the sun.


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