The Star Wars prequels were always a tragedy and Anidala were always doomed. That’s how the story was written a long time ago.
Anidala exist at the heart of the Star Wars
Anakin and Padmé’s entire relationship takes place under the shadow of war. They meet in the middle of Naboo’s war with the Trade Federation. They fall in love at the beginning of the Clone War, which is an extension of the same. And they spend their three remaining years together grasping for whatever intimacy they can find while continuing to fight it.
The galaxy far, far away is a heightened reality, especially in the prequels. Anakin and Padmé’s romance borrows from fairy tales, Arthurian legends, and Shakespearean tragedy. I love the sweeping visuals, the haunting musical cues, dramatic costumes, and even the affected dialogue. But the quiet moments are special. Anidala are tragic, mythic, fantastic, romantic, operatic, epic. And when they get the chance, domestic. At their most heartwarming, they are the most heartbreaking. They are so young and they have so much potential.
I ship growth
One of my longest held and most precious OTPs is E.R.‘s Doug Ross and Carol Hathaway. Both characters and their established relationship were introduced in the pilot episode— which ends with Carol’s attempted suicide, the staff trying to revive her while Doug watches. For six seasons they were in and out of a relationship, at turns estranged or dating, engaged or separated. They are individually and jointly a mess and their romance is introduced as not merely unhealthy but potentially lethal. But I love them. I love every single messy moment and I love that they eventually find their way to a stable, lasting and rewarding relationship. Doug and Carol address the toxicity in their relationship, and grow out of it. They get a happy ending and then they get a happy life.
Anakin and Padmé never get that chance.
The Dream of Canon Divergence
But I imagine all the ways they might. If the Jedi didn’t change their mind and Anakin grew up on Naboo. Or if Palpatine was revealed sooner, or later, or Anakin escaped his notice. If Anakin left the Order when they married, or when Ahsoka left. What if Anakin chose to tell Padmé or Bail Organa the truth about the Chancellor instead of Mace Windu. Or if he’d gone to them rather than stay in the council room alone as instructed. If Obi-Wan didn’t leave for Utapau and he was the one Anakin informed first. Or if he didn’t trick Padmé into revealing where Anakin had gone. Or if all or any of the three of them had an honest conversation about the relationship at any point between Geonosis and Mustafar. If anyone had an honest conversation about anything.
The Star Wars prequels were always a tragedy and Anidala were always doomed. But I believe in their relationship. I believe in the happiness they could have found if only one thing, or everything, was different. That is why they are my favorite.
You can read some of my canon divergent stories here on AO3.