The house was small and humble, unremarkable in almost every way, made special only by the nameless yet beautiful small pond that sat surprisingly near. "Safe," Obi-Wan had called it, but Padmé knew it wasn't, not really. No place was.
She walked past the smooth, unslept-in bed, pausing at the crib to stroke the downy heads of her sleeping children, then resumed her aimless pacing. Without quite realizing how she got there, she found herself at the window facing the pond. Suddenly transfixed by the long, silvery gleam of the moonlight across the indigo surface, Padmé sank down on the broad sill and rested her forehead against the glass.
In grief comes repentance. The words echoed and circled endlessly in the cell of her mind, and Padmé wondered idly where she had first heard the old saying. An aged councilor, perhaps, from her days as Queen? Or in one of her many cultural appreciation classes before that? Or had it been earlier still, when she was a small girl and her mother had taught her homespun wisdom along with manners and embroidery? No matter. She knew the truth of the phrase, felt it to her bones. So many things she was sorry for, so many things she would change - but there were no second chances. She'd learned that long ago. Done right, or not, and people suffered when it was 'not'. How many would suffer now?
I inhaled the sharp air and watched gray clouds slowly scatter in the quiet sky,
Finding peace while waiting away the snow...
...but the poem which her father used to recite failed to bring the comfort it always had granted her before. She felt clubbed to death, beaten down until she was weary beyond words and with no way out. How had it all come to this? Palpatine's rise to power had been a masterful performance in the dark, the dark of deceit and of ignorance and of willful blindness. And now the night falling, the descent of all the grace and grandeur and glorious culture she'd once known as it was obscured by the grotesque lies of the so-called New Order.
New, indeed. Can greed be new? Corruption and cruelty, new? No, it was the age-old way of the dead - not of those who were dead to life itself, but of those who were dead to what made life worthwhile: love, selflessness, compassion.
A faint whimper roused Padmé from the sense of unreality that had wrapped its way around her like a strangling fog. Rising, she walked quickly to the crib. Luke was awake, stuffing his hand in his mouth and kicking the air in the way that babies always seemed to do. Catching sight of her, he smiled toothlessly around his fingers. Padmé smiled back, grief momentarily forgotten.
"Well, hello," she said softly, and Luke gave a delighted squeal and kicked even harder. Padmé picked him up before he could wake Leia with his thrashing and cradled him carefully. Tomorrow - but no, that didn't bear thinking of. Obi-Wan wouldn't leave for Tatooine until daybreak; she still had her son until then. She glanced down to see Luke watching her intently, his glee giving way to an almost preternatural solemnity. Both twins had started having occasional moments like this, when they would look soberly at her and she could almost believe they knew what was in store.
Padmé felt a wave of anger wash over her, anger at Palpatine, anger at Anakin, anger at the Jedi, at the entire galaxy. Anger at whomever and whatever had caused this, made her think of endings rather than beginnings when she looked into her children's eyes. Anger at the way her dreams had been battered until they dissolved into nothing in the vastness and she was left with this future beyond dreams that held only blood and sorrows yet to come. Is it punishment for my sins, or for Ani's? And why must they suffer with us?
Luke whimpered again, a whimper that held a real threat of tears, and Padmé came back to herself with a jerk. "Hush, my darling," she murmured, and rocked Luke gently back and forth, back and forth. Holding him close, she sang a lullaby that she'd once heard Sola sing to Ryoo, a song of spring and hope, where birds sang despite the distant, threatening rain. Luke quieted, eyelids beginning to droop once more, and Padmé lifted her gaze from his face to look again at the pond and contemplate its ripples, deliberately ignoring the way the shadows outside were fading away into light.
She heard quiet movement in the next room, and knew that Obi-Wan had risen. Slowly, so as not to wake Luke from the beginnings of his slumber, Padmé rose and carefully, quietly, walked to her door and locked it. Just as carefully and quietly, she walked back to the windowsill and reseated herself.
Dawn only; the sun hasn't yet risen. Mine still.
And she clung to her son and the last vestiges of happiness she knew, and pretended that the moment would last forever.
Original cover by obaona. HTML formatting copyright 2007 TheForce.Net LLC.