Characters: Obi-Wan, Padmé, Yoda, Bail Organa
Word Count: 2,421
Summary: "Breha and I have wanted a child for so long. I don't know how I can ever repay you."
Author's Notes: I'm definitely not as happy with this chapter as I was with some of the others, but part of the purpose of NaNo is to shut your inner editor up and bind and gag them if necessary, so very few alterations were made. I just know I'm going to rip this up come December, though. XD The part where the Jedi and Bail move Padmé to Bail's starship is largely inspired by this picture. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to incorporate it into a fic somehow, and so here it is.
A dimly-lit room.
The sound of a baby suckling on a bottle.
You want to see Anakin, to reassure yourself that he’s all right, to tell him you forgive him and that you still love him and that you can go on living, maybe on Naboo, with the children and everything will be okay. It is that, perhaps, which motivates you to finally open your eyes.
Obi-Wan is sitting in a chair in the corner, feeding Luke and singing softly to him. He is so natural, so comfortable with the child that it takes your breath away. You never pegged Obi-Wan as a family man. But then, you’ve lost count of all the things you’ve learned in the past few days.
Luke spits out the bottle, cooing, and Obi-Wan hoists him to his shoulder, patting him gently on the back. “Go on, then,” Obi-Wan murmurs. “If your father’s eating habits are anything to go by, there’s a big one in there.”
Sure enough, Luke lets out a booming burp, surprisingly loud for someone so small. You can’t resist chuckling a little.
Both Obi-Wan and Luke jump at the noise and look over at you. “Padmé!” Obi-Wan exclaims. “I didn’t know you were awake.”
“Well, I am,” you say grumpily, and though you aren’t sure where the sudden shift in your mood originated, you do know that you’re tired, in pain and that you need to use the fresher rather desperately. You’re sick of being in bed, although you don’t think you’re strong enough yet to leave it.
Obi-Wan sets Luke in a bassinette on the other side of the room and comes over to your bed. “How are you feeling?” he asks gently. “Do you need a medical droid?”
“No, I –” You blush suddenly, unused to declaring your needs so vocally. “I – well – I need the refresher,” you mumble.
Force, why does this have to be so difficult? “I need the refresher,” you say only slightly louder. “I’m sorry.”
He takes this without a blink. “All right. I’ll get a droid, and they can bring in the equipment. Just a moment.”
And it is, indeed, only a moment before two medical droids are in the room, carrying a tray filled with scanners, measuring devices and other implements you’re not sure you want to know the names of. From the pile they extract an ordinary-looking pan, much like the one your sister Sola used in the medical centre after the births of your nieces, and gently push it underneath you.
You’re about to ask Obi-Wan if he would mind leaving – he’s hovering near the door, anyway – when one of the babies starts to cry. The droids pay the noise no mind; they seem to be too busy inputting numbers into their scanners. So Obi-Wan is left to scoop up a squalling Leia, carry her to the same chair where earlier he fed Luke, and offer her a bottle, all in full view of your bed.
Again, you blush hotly.
“Padmé, relax,” he says softly. “I’ve seen far worse from these children of Anakin’s already. They seem to have inherited his propensity towards messy hygiene habits. So at this point, nothing would surprise or disturb me.”
That comforts you, and you even manage a smile. It helps, too, that the droids are very businesslike about the whole thing, pouring water over your lower half as you use the pan, ignoring your soft cries of pain – because it hurts, anyway – and generally respecting your dignity. It is for this reason that you allow them to clean you without complaint after you are finished, although that, too, hurts.
You endure another “sterilization,” as the droids refer to it, and an injection of the same pain medication they have been giving you, and then you are left alone at last.
In the past, you’ve fallen asleep right away, but your mind is buzzing with questions and you want to ask Obi-Wan, finally, what has become of your husband. Before you can open your mouth to speak, however, Obi-Wan addresses you directly.
“Padmé,” he says hesitantly, “there are some things you should know, things I’ve put off telling you purely out of my own cowardice.”
“Such as where Anakin is?” you say, and your voice sounds accusatory even to you.
A momentary flicker of pain appears to cross his face, but it’s so brief that next second you’re sure you’ve imagined it. “Yes, there’s that. But also … also the plans Yoda and I have put in place for your protection, and the protection of the twins. We can’t stay on Polis Massa forever; the Empire would surely discover us here even though it’s an Outer Rim territory. So Yoda, and Bail, and I, we got together and made some decisions. I wish we could have included you in them, but you were sleeping, and the medical droids say you need your rest.”
That much is true, of course, and your body is crying out for sleep even now. But you force yourself to stay awake, to listen to Obi-Wan’s words.
“And – what did you decide?” you ask cautiously.
“Padmé … every fibre of my being is against the decision that was eventually made,” he says gently. “I understand how much you must love the babies already. I love them too. But they need to be kept safe, for their own sake and the sake of the Jedi Order. Luke and Leia may be the key to toppling Palpatine’s regime and restoring democracy to the galaxy. We can’t let them fall into the hands of the Sith.”
A cold dread grows in your stomach. “Get to the point, Obi-Wan.”
“Yes, of course. The point – the point is that the twins are going to be separated. Bail Organa has already indicated his wish to take Leia to Alderaan to be raised in the Royal Family there, and Luke is to live with Owen and Beru on Tatooine.”
“No,” you whisper. Your dream is coming true, Anakin said this would happen!
Obi-Wan looks impossibly regretful. “I’m so sorry, Padme.”
“And what about me?” Your voice is rising in anger. “I am not just an incubator for the salvation of your Jedi Order, Obi-Wan! And I will not be cast aside as such, doomed to watch my children leave me all in the name of the supposed greater good!”
“You will not be cast aside, I promise,” he says quietly. “I will take you to Tatooine with Luke, and you and I will live together in the Jundland Wastes until such time as a reunion with the children becomes advisable.”
The calming influence of the medication is the only thing keeping you from becoming inconsolable. “So I have to send my babies, Anakin’s babies, off with people who may as well be strangers, watch them grow up from afar, not touch them or interact with them until you say it’s okay!”
“That would be most prudent, yes,” Obi-Wan replies.
Your backbone turns to cold steel. You can remember someone else saying those precise words to you, in a situation much like this one, though ostensibly a lot less upsetting. But, similarly to that time, someone in a position of authority is trying to brush your feelings off as unimportant, and you won’t stand for it now any more than you did then.
“I hate you,” you whisper, voice dripping with contempt.
A look of utter devastation passes over his face, and it is in this moment that you realize how deeply you’ve wounded him. But you don’t care. He has hurt you too, and severely, and he deserves to pay for it in kind.
“Padmé,” he beseeches, but you’ve turned your back.
“Don’t speak to me,” you toss over your shoulder. “Whatever you have to say, I neither need nor want to hear it. Keep all further opinions about my children serving the greater good to yourself. You owe me at least that courtesy.”
For just that moment, you give yourself permission to forget that much of your own life has been spent in service to the greater good. For just that moment, you give yourself permission to be selfish as you drift into an uneasy rest.
Three hour later, you are woken by the hiss of another hypospray of medication entering your arm, soft hands pushing a cloak onto your shoulders and gently moving a hood up over your head. At first you think you are dreaming – some bizarre side effect of the medications, perhaps – but then a voice says, “Padmé? We’re going to move you to Bail Organa’s starship now.”
The voice is Obi-Wan’s, and it belies none of the pain you see etched on his face when you open your eyes. “Your face is partially concealed to protect your identity. You’re strapped to a hoverboard and I will be right here next to you. Just relax and don’t move. Everything will be all right.”
Your hands come up to feel your head, and sure enough, there is a coverlet hiding every feature of your face but your eyes. It is light enough that you can breathe, but thick enough to be opaque.
“Padmé, don’t move! Close your eyes!” Obi-Wan hisses desperately, and your arms snap back down to your sides. What in the Force is going on?
You feel yourself start to move, and slam your eyelids closed. The hoverboard turns a corner, and suddenly you are in a brightly-lit hallway.
“I’m so sorry,” simpers a high-pitched voice.
“Thank you,” Obi-Wan replies, and you can tell he isn’t needing to work terribly hard at manufacturing grief. “It was so sudden … she seemed all right, but I suppose it was just one of those things …”
“Post-confinement hemorrhage,” says another voice close by. You recognize it as belonging to Bail Organa. “Couldn’t be helped, according to the medical droids.” He sighs and sniffles. “She was a great friend of mine.”
“Missed, she will be,” adds a third being who could only be Yoda.
You suppress an urge to snort at these words. Missed, she will be … he doesn’t really care about you. He’s just happy you managed to bring two more Force-sensitives into this galaxy so his precious Jedi Order can have a salvation. He doesn’t give two mynock tongues about you the person. Otherwise, why would he be taking the children from you?
“And what of the child?” the high-pitched voice asks. “She was in the family way, was she not?”
You feel two soft, baby-sized lumps by your feet, and in that instant you realize how truly dangerous the current situation is. The Jedi and Bail are obviously perpetrating a ruse that you and the babies died in delivery or shortly thereafter, likely as an additional precaution to keep you safe from the Sith. To do so, they have to remove your “body” and those of the babies from the medical facility. If Palpatine does turn up, the inhabitants of Polis Massa can rightly claim that you passed away, at no risk to themselves.
It’s a brilliant plan. Too bad you’re so frightened that it won’t work.
The instant that the fact of the ruse dawns on you, you feel an itch on your right ankle. It would be such a simple thing to slide your left foot over and scratch, but you’re supposed to be dead, after all, and dead bodies do not suddenly decide to scratch their ankles while lying in state. You bite your lip under the coverlet, ignoring the itchy prickles, hoping desperately that you’ll reach the ship soon and the Polis Massans will be none the wiser for it, but you’re not sure how much longer you can hold out.
“Thank you again for your sympathies, they are much appreciated,” Obi-Wan says with a tone of finality in his voice. Perhaps he can sense your discomfort. “If anyone decides to – er, come calling and ask about this case, please let them know that the patient and her unborn child passed on shortly after delivery, and are now being taken back to their home planet for a proper burial.”
“Understood,” the voice replies. “You have my condolences.”
The hoverboard moves again, and you relax, though only slightly. The prickles in your foot can be easily brushed off in comparison to the new sensation overwhelming you. A tickle in your nose, a clenching of your lungs … you try to take a deep breath, and cannot …
A door swishes open and shut, and suddenly you have no choice but to surrender to your body’s demands.
The sneeze explodes out of you, making your body jerk upwards and the coverlet tumble off. Luke and Leia, who were housed under a separate coverlet at your feet, begin to fuss.
“Sorry,” you whisper, wiping your nose.
“Bless you,” Bail Organa says. “Don’t worry, we’re on my ship now. It’s completely soundproofed, they won’t have been able to hear that.”
“Thank the Force for that,” adds Obi-Wan. “That would really have blown our cover.”
“How fortunate for you,” you snap sarcastically.
“Masters, I’ll be instructing Captain Antilles to set course for Alderaan momentarily,” Bail interjects, obviously cognizant of the sudden tension. “Two transports will be waiting there to take you to your respective locations. Entirely confidentially, of course.”
“Thank you, Senator,” Yoda says softly. “A great service to the Republic have you rendered. Our grateful thanks you have.”
“It was my pleasure. I hope I can always count you three among my friends.”
“Of course, Bail,” you say quietly. “Remember what I told you back in the Senate. You must be seen to be serving the Empire’s side, even if in reality you are serving another.”
“That’s my intention,” he agrees. “And Padmé … thank you. Thank you for trusting me enough to take your daughter. Breha and I have wanted a child for so long. I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”
It is exactly the right thing to say; the words you had been planning to utter about it not being your choice die in your throat. Tears form in your eyes and you reach out and squeeze his hand. “I know she will be loved and taken care of, and that’s all I could ever ask.”
You share a last glance with your friend, and then he heads for the cockpit and you for the staterooms, your mind spinning with unspoken thoughts and one name.
Anakin … oh, my love, where are you?