Fandom: Star Wars
Characters: Obi-Wan, Padmé, Anakin
Word Count: 3,492
Summary: Padmé grieves for her friend Cordé, and grapples with unexpected feelings.
Author’s Notes: My my, two chapters in one night, aren't we being spoiled! Don't expect two chapters every day, though -- most days it will only be one, to preserve what little scraps of sanity I have left. In this chapter I get back down to basics, writing as Padmé, which as I said before, I dearly love to do. The astute among you will note that her diary entry is lifted in its entirety from a post in naboosenator, but I can do that 'cause hey, I write that journal too! And really, what I would have wanted to express couldn't be said any better than it was already. I also borrowed some dialogue from the screenplay of Attack of the Clones, as well as from R.A. Salvatore's novelization. Think of this as canon, but with a twist. ^_^
PERSONAL RECORD: PADME AMIDALA
I can’t believe it. I just can’t. I keep hoping that this is somehow a bad dream, and I’ll wake up and I’ll be in my bed at Mom and Dad’s and I won’t have flown to Coruscant yet and I’ll somehow be able to prevent what just happened. But this isn’t a dream. Oh, how I wish it were. Perhaps writing about it will cleanse me of the sadness and grief I feel. I’ve insisted that Typho and Dormé give me a few moments with my datapad, even though I am supposed to rendezvous with Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in a few moments. But he will wait.
The trip was going so well. It takes nearly half of a day to fly to Coruscant from Naboo, so I spent the first day on my senatorial starship. Then we landed on Bespin to refuel and so that I could climb into one of the Naboo fighters and act as a pilot. This was all part of the security decoy system that Typho and Panaka worked out. R2 did most of the flying involved, being a much better pilot than I could ever be. Cordé took my place aboard the starship, and dressed in my clothing.
Everything seemed to be going so well. The ugly industrial world of Coruscant came into view. The fighters streaked around the starship, protecting it. We landed on the platform in heavy cloud. Or was it fog? I can never tell how high I am when on Coruscant, so I can’t really say.
I jumped out of my fighter and ran to join Typho, R2D2 following along behind. Cordé and another security detail came down the ramp from the starship. We discussed the simplicity of the journey. And then the world exploded.
I’m not sure exactly what happened. Typho told me later that a mine had been planted on the platform underneath the starship. But I don’t really care to discuss specifics at the moment. All I know is that I was suddenly flat on my back on the ground surrounded by burning fragments and the charred members of the security detail. Typho was lying a few feet away with R2. He immediately sprang to his feet and helped me up.
I wasn’t aware of starting to run, but evidently I did. All the way over to the wreckage of the ship where Cordé lay. I could tell immediately that she was severely injured, even though I’ve received no medical training. There was just a certain … look, I suppose. I don’t know, it’s difficult for me to put into words exactly what I felt.
She rolled over, and with her dying breath proclaimed that she had failed me. I tried to tell her no, she had done her job exactly, she had saved me, she was going to be all right … Typho was at my side by then … and she rolled over … and the life just went out of her.
I am still wrestling with the guilt even now. She died for me. She died because I had to return to Coruscant for this vote. The vote is important, yes, but is it something worth dying for? I believed before that it was. Now I’m not so sure. It’s just, when you’ve seen someone you admire and consider a friend pass on, your priorities tend to readjust.
Not that I’m thinking of pulling out of the vote. Oh, no, far from it. I owe it to Corde and all she stood for to continue with my duties. I haven’t worked for months to defeat the Act to simply slink away when the time comes. But is it worth death? Is it worth all that Corde must have gone through in the minutes after the explosion? I don’t know the answer. I hope one day I will find it.
Nevertheless, duty had to continue. Duty always must come first. Typho and Dormé and the remaining security detail loaded me hurriedly into a transport and we raced to my apartments – so I could change into more appropriate clothing – and then to the Senate, which was already in session. Of course they were arguing over the Military Creation Act. Jar Jar has told me that this is all they do these days. Somehow I’m not surprised.
Chancellor Palpatine was quite surprised to see me, as were other members of the Senate. Apparently they all believed that the assassination attempt had succeeded, and that I had been killed. Needless to say I was happy to set them right, although I did bring up the subject and questions that have been burning so brightly in my mind today: how many more have to needlessly die while we debate this Act, and the growing Separatist threat? Can’t we just put it to a vote and settle the question once and for all? Of course there was opposition. There always is. No one can seem to agree anymore. I’m not sure if they ever really did. The Separatists seem to grow ever stronger, and my fellow Senators are frightened. Fear is, unfortunately, a very powerful motivator.
I was hoping to retire and gather my thoughts after the Senate adjourned, but I couldn’t. The Loyalist Committee, of which I am a member, was convening in the Chancellor’s office and given my views on the Separatists and the fact that someone had just tried to kill me, my presence there was absolutely necessary.
The Jedi were present. Master Mace Windu and Master Yoda disputed my belief that Count Dooku was behind the mine, but I am still firm in holding that belief. What does it matter if it’s supposedly not in his character? As I have already indicated, fear can be a powerful motivator. Perhaps others think that this is illogical, but I just have a feeling about it. I can’t explain it.
But finally the Committee also adjourned and I was able to return here, to my apartments, to finally think and reflect a little on the day’s events. And although I am just as saddened over Cordé’s death as I was before I began this entry, I think writing it has helped me begin to work through my feelings a little. So thank you for listening.
And now I must go, because I fear that to keep Master Kenobi waiting any longer would border on rudeness.
Padmé snapped shut her datapad. She was being foolish; how could writing about something possibly make one feel better about it? She could still see in her mind’s eye what had happened on the landing pad that day. Hearing the screams of those wounded, the distant roar of the fire brigades, the rhythm of her pounding footsteps as she fought her way across the burning platform to Cordé. Only to hear the words, “I’m sorry, m’lady … I’ve failed you, Senator,” from her friend’s mouth. And to watch as the spirit left her friend’s body, and the guilt … oh, the crushing guilt.
Captain Typho’s authoritative voice startled her out of her daydreams. Padmé slid instantly into her practiced politician’s persona.
“Yes, Captain. Are the Jedi expected soon?”
“They are. I have just sent for Master Kenobi; he and his Padawan apprentice will be arriving momentarily.”
“All right,” Padmé replied. “I will wait for them here.”
And again, Padmé was left with her thoughts. Part of her wanted to be alone, but another part was desperate for companionship and understanding. Understanding from whom, she could not be sure. She had spent much of her life surrounded by people, and yet many times she felt lonely, as though someone was missing. A friend, a confidante, someone who truly understood what it was to grieve a friend. Someone like – Obi-Wan.
Why am I thinking like this? Padmé scolded herself. True, she and Obi-Wan had been friends for many years, but they hadn’t directly spoken to one another in two years. He was a Jedi, he had his own duties to take care of and Anakin to train. She didn’t feel right bothering him with petty, day-to-day concerns.
And now he’ll be guarding me, she thought, rising and walking to the window. Does that mean we can renew our friendship? No, no, he’ll probably want to retain some kind of distance. We were friends, but that was a long time ago. He has probably moved on, and I should too.
But somehow she couldn’t. Padmé remembered his deep blue eyes. When you looked into them, you sometimes felt he was seeing past your physical self, directly into you. She remembered his clipped, musical Coruscanti accent. She remembered how they had bonded over Qui-Gon’s death, how she had comforted him, how they had danced together at the Chancellor’s ball afterwards and agreed to keep in touch. He had been a great friend, but friends drift apart. And she didn’t want to make him feel obligated to continue their friendship if he was no longer interested.
“Lookie, lookie, Senator! Desa Jedi arriving!” A high, excited voice interrupted her thoughts. It was Jar-Jar, announcing the arrival of Obi-Wan and his apprentice.
Padmé turned to face them. Force, he hasn’t changed much, she found herself thinking. The eyes, the accent … his hair is longer, but he still looks the same. She swallowed down an urge to rush forwards and embrace him.
“It’s a great pleasure to see you again, m’lady,” Obi-Wan said formally, extending his hand.
“It has been far too long, Master Kenobi,” Padmé replied equally formally. If this was the way he wanted to treat her, she needed to respect his wishes. “I’m so glad our paths have crossed again, but I must warn you that I think your presence here is unnecessary.”
Obi-Wan accepted this without a blink. “I’m sure the Jedi Council have their reasons.”
She bit back her disappointment, at the same time scolding herself again. Why are you thinking like this? He is your bodyguard, he is no different from Typho or Panaka or any of the other security personnel surrounding you. But even as she thought it, she knew it was a lie. Obi-Wan was different. He was her friend, they’d been with each other before in a capacity outside that of professionalism, and that was what made him different.
Padmé shook those thoughts from her head as she turned to face Obi-Wan’s Padawan apprentice. The blonde hair, the blue eyes just as clear as Obi-Wan’s, but with an added fire, the height, the adult expression … could this really be Anakin, the little slave boy she had met so long ago?
“Ani?” Padmé gaped at him, unintentionally. “My goodness, you’ve grown!”
Anakin stared into her eyes, then down her profile, for a long time. “So have you. Grown more beautiful, I mean. Well, for a Senator, I mean,” he said clumsily.
Obi-Wan shot him a disapproving glance, but Padmé only laughed and shook her head. “Oh, Ani, you’ll always be that little boy I knew on Tatooine,” she smiled, and then moved to the couch, ignoring the disappointment that flashed over his face.
“Our presence will be invisible, m’lady, of course,” Obi-Wan began, seating himself on the couch directly opposite Padmé. His gaze was inscrutable.
“I am very grateful you’re here, Master Kenobi,” said Captain Typho, coming to stand behind Padme. “The situation is more dangerous than the Senator will admit.”
“I don’t need more security, I need answers,” Padmé countered, addressing Obi-Wan. “I want to know who’s trying to kill me.”
A glimmer of understanding, recognition even, flashed in Obi-Wan’s eyes, but when he spoke, the formal tone had not left. “We’re here to protect you, Senator, not to start an investigation.”
“We will find out who is trying to kill you, Padmé,” Anakin said firmly. “I promise you.”
This finally drew Obi-Wan’s attention away from Padmé. “We are not going to exceed our mandate, my young Padawan learner,” he said sharply.
Anakin quickly tried to backpedal. “I meant in the interest of protecting her, Master, of course.”
Padmé watched the dynamic with interest.
“We are not going through this exercise again, Anakin,” said Obi-Wan wearily. “And you will pay attention to my lead.”
“Why?” Anakin stared back defiantly. Padmé was suddenly visited by the unpleasant realization that he was trying to impress her. Show off for her, demonstrate how much wisdom he had acquired.
The dirty look she threw him was matched in intensity only by Obi-Wan’s incredulity. “What?” he said.
Sensing Padmé’s disapproval, Anakin hurriedly looked for an excuse. “Why else do you think we were assigned to her, if not to find the killer?” he said in a rush. “Protection is a job for local security, not Jedi. It’s overkill, Master, investigation is implied in our mandate.”
“We will do exactly as the Council has instructed,” Obi-Wan said firmly. “And you will learn your place, young one.” He was looking distinctly uncomfortable and embarrassed.
“Perhaps with merely your presence, the mysteries surrounding this threat will be revealed,” Padmé offered, hoping to restore calm. Obi-Wan glanced at her with approval and thanks in his eyes; she smiled and rose. “Now, if you will excuse me, I will retire.”
Dormé, who had been waiting by the door, picked up the signal and escorted her out.
Such a small, common ritual. Every night, Padmé sat in front of her mirrored vanity, brushing her hair. This was a task she would not even allow her handmaidens to be present for, even though they were of great assistance to her at other times. Padmé brushed her hair alone because it gave her time to think in relative privacy and solitude. And tonight, she had so much to think about.
Anakin and Obi-Wan. She had never been closer to two men, although it had been two years since she had spoken with Obi-Wan and many more since she had even seen Anakin. Obi-Wan was calm, polite, formal. He was also caring, gentle and witty. Anakin was headstrong, fiery, passionate. Each of them had different ways to draw her attention. Obi-Wan could communicate so much by a look, an eyeroll, a smile, while Anakin knew only concrete ways to show his interest. He had tried to impress her, he had tried to show off with sweet talk, he had agreed with her, though it was not his place to do so.
What were her feelings? What did she want? Padmé could almost hear her sister Sola asking that question. She had done so just two weeks earlier when Padmé had gone home to visit her family. “Stop thinking about the rest of the galaxy for once,” Sola had chided her. “Think about yourself. What is best for Padmé Amidala? What does Padmé Amidala really want?”
Padmé’s intuition, which usually served her so well when difficult questions were posed, was mysteriously silent on the issue.
The illogical part of her mind, the part she frequently pretended did not exist, whispered of secret fantasies and midnight encounters. Lips on hers, the prickle of a beard, a hand trailing down to caress her breast, a clipped Coruscanti accent telling her how beautiful and attractive she was …
Padmé caught her breath. She was sweating, her chest heaving, brush stationary in her hair. Had she really just gone that deeply into an intimate fantasy about Obi-Wan? What was wrong with her? He was a Jedi, but more than that, he was her friend. Just her friend, she reminded herself. And maybe not even that anymore.
Someone was at her door.
Could it possibly be …? “Who is it?” Padmé called.
“Anakin,” came the answer.
Stifling a disappointment that she knew she shouldn’t feel, Padmé reached for her dressing gown and draped it about her shoulders before making her way to the door. She wasn’t sure why she was taking such precautions, since she had never before been modest. She knew that many men found her physically attractive, and at times that had even been an asset, but she had never felt for anyone what she was beginning to feel for Anakin … and Obi-Wan even moreso.
Anakin smiled broadly when she opened the door. “Hello,” he said, barely-concealed excitement in his eyes.
“Is everything all right?” Padmé asked, arranging her face into what she hoped was a puzzled smile.
He blinked, having been caught midway through another admiration of her. “Oh, yes,” he stammered. “Yes, my Master has gone to the lower levels to check on Captain Typho’s security measures, but all seems quiet.”
This time she really did feel confused by his words. “You sound disappointed.”
Anakin chuckled nervously. Now he couldn’t seem to look at her at all.
“You don’t enjoy this,” Padmé stated.
“There is nowhere else in all the galaxy I’d rather be!” he exclaimed, and the almost desperate sincerity showed in his voice.
She bit her lip. Why did that simple statement make her feel so strange? So – uncomfortable? “But this … inertia,” she clarified. “It disturbs you.”
“We should be more aggressive in our search for the assassin,” Anakin said firmly. “To sit back and wait is to invite disaster!”
“Master Kenobi does not agree,” Padmé blurted, then blushed. Why had she brought up Obi-Wan? He was bound to be a sensitive subject given the way they had quarreled this afternoon. Silently she berated herself.
“Master Kenobi is bound by the letter of the orders,” explained Anakin, seeming not to notice her difficulty. “He won’t take a chance on doing anything that isn’t explicitly asked of him by the Jedi Council. Master Kenobi is not like his own Master. Master Qui-Gon understood the need for independent thinking and initiative – otherwise, he would have left me on Tatooine.”
Again Padmé found herself thinking of Obi-Wan, and losing focus on the conversation. Did he still mourn Qui-Gon’s death as sharply as he had first done? Did he still miss his gentle guidance? Did he still thinking about the way he had bonded with her after the cremation ceremony? Was he thankful for her comfort, or had he resented the intrusion upon what had been a very private grief?
Again she forced herself back to the present. “And you are more like Master Qui-Gon?” she asked.
“I accept the duties I am given, but demand the leeway I need to see them to a proper conclusion,” Anakin said.
Padmé blinked. “Demand?”
Anakin shrugged, blushing a bit. “Well, I ask, at least.”
“And presume, when you can’t get the answers you desire,” she teased.
“I do the best I can with every problem I am given,” he firmly replied.
There was an awkward pause.
“Anakin, does Obi-Wan – does Obi-Wan ever talk about Qui-Gon?” Padmé said suddenly. Before she could stop herself, she went on, “Do you think he still misses him? Mourns for him, on the anniversary of his death?”
It was Anakin’s turn to look politely puzzled. “I would imagine so,” he said. “He never discusses such matters directly with me, though. Master Obi-Wan is … somewhat reluctant to show any trace of emotion. I think he believes it is a sign of weakness.”
No, he doesn’t, Padmé thought. He just wants to be a good role model. “But it’s not,” she said. “To show emotions is to be human.”
“To let go of your emotions is to be a Jedi,” Anakin countered. “I’ll admit it is a task I sometimes have difficulty with. Perhaps that’s why my Master is reluctant to display emotions.”
“Perhaps,” Padmé murmured, as much to herself as to Anakin. She lowered her eyes, remembering again the flames of the landing pad, the screams of the dying, the –
“Padmé? Are you all right?” asked Anakin with sudden concern.
“Yes, I’m fine, thank you,” she automatically replied. “It has been a very trying day. I just need sleep.”
He accepted this. “Well – see you tomorrow, then. Rest well.”
“I will,” she said, and softly closed the door.
Anakin could offer comfort, but not the sort of comfort she needed or wanted. Only one person could truly help her in that regard, and he was somewhere downstairs, consulting with her security team. Perhaps he would not even bother to come up, but would instead rely on Anakin to handle things.
Suddenly, she felt unspeakably, irrevocably alone.
Padmé was sliding into bed, pulling the covers over herself, when a second knock sounded. Oh, now who is it? I told Anakin I was going to sleep! With a heavy sigh she pulled on her gown and headed once more for the door.
It was Obi-Wan.
“Padmé,” he said softly, “I am so sorry.”
And without a word, without even an acknowledgment, she slipped into his arms. He held her tight to his chest, murmuring soothing words into her hair, and she finally began to cry. She had found the one place she knew she could truly grieve.