the Father: Chapter 2
Facing the Past
"Are you sure she'll come?" Mehht asks, staring out
bedroom window at the vast array of lights that illuminate Coruscant's
sky. "It is rather late."
The trip from Tatooine was long and they’ve both spent the last week so
wound they could barely breathe. The only thing either of them
is to sleep. But that luxury won’t be available until some basic
"She will come," Padmé answers matter-of-factly, pulling the
absently through her long tresses. "No one would dare to say no
the Empress." The words are uttered with more than a little
irony. She hates that title and before today, she had never used
Mehht frowns and turns. She heads for the door, bound for the
room to inspect the panoramic view. Mehht has never been away
Tatooine. The fact that she is here at all is somewhat of a
Natives of Tatooine are not known for their wanderlust – yet another
that Padmé's husband has always distanced himself from his
Mehht Whitesun is Beru’s niece, the only daughter of Beru’s older
Mehht came to live at the Lars farmstead outside Anchorhead four
ago following her fiancé’s untimely death. She is bright
plainspoken and loyal to a fault.
“Padmé,” Mehht says from the doorway, flanked by Threepio,
arrived.” Mehht frowns and then chews briefly on her bottom
“Should I call you ‘my lady’?” she asks.
Padmé smiles gently. They’ve shared their tiny room for
years, their pallets laid out neatly side by side. They are
in some ways, than Padmé ever was to her sister, Sola. “That
be necessary,” she says.
“It will take a week for the entire order, but I can have several
sent over by morning,” the woman says, addressing both Padmé and
The woman’s name is Jahzia Soh. She is Falleen, so it is
to judge her age, but her careful manner and successful business are
indicators that she’s been around long enough to know how to keep her
down. She is one of the most sought after designers in the
just as she was in the Republic before its demise.
“I am very thankful for the special accommodation, Lady Soh,”
“Please do not thank me, my lady. It is my honor.” For a
Jahzia’s impeccable façade cracks and Padmé knows that
is truly grateful to see her. When Padmé was a Senator,
designed many of her gowns. It has been years since they have
Padmé’s smoothes her hands over the threadbare material of her
"I will have payment transferred to your accounts tonight," she assures
Jahzia bows as she takes her leave.
Padmé rubs the material of her tunic gently between her
She is dressed in attire suitable for a moisture farmer in the Outer
– which is what she is. Mehht and Padmé share the same
Their outfits are similar, both made by hand from sturdy fibers the
dull beige as Tatooine’s Dune Sea.
Padmé is not ashamed of her clothing. On the contrary,
proud of it. She created it with her own hands for her own simple
It has seen her through many seasons. Like the calluses on her
the clothes are something she came by honestly, through hard work and
For year upon year she has helped with the farm knowing that her role
the difference between having enough food on the table and feeling the
But her attire, no matter how hard won, is now inappropriate. For
much as Padmé wishes she could remain a moisture farmer, she now
to rise to a station to which she never aspired. She has to
“Oh, thank the maker.” Threepio is almost bursting with joy at
fact that his battered plating has been replaced with a new bronze skin
gleams brightly in the morning light. As is the custom on Naboo,
has always treated Threepio – or any other sentient droid – as a
But from time to time, she does marvel at him. He is so very
And fussy. She has never seen any other droid so thoroughly
with propriety and creature comforts.
It is difficult to reconcile Threepio’s quirks with the man who was his
She supposes that all sentient life must share certain characteristics
whether droid or child. You can lay down the foundation as
as possible, but there is still so much of it beyond your
Mehht is staring out the window, captivated by the pace of life on
She notices Padmé watching her and blushes, turning away from
view of the morning rush hour. “Sorry,” she says. “It’s
so different. It’s hard to imagine you living here.”
Padmé thinks about it for a moment, looking at the same
that so captivates Mehht. In the early morning light that streams
the breakfast room's windows, the towering buildings gleam like
“It’s hard for me to imagine it too,” she admits. “It was a long
ago.” She reaches across the table and pours more caf into
cup as well as her own. It’s much stronger than the tea they
at home, but it has been expertly brewed and she can’t resist having a
Neither she nor Mehht slept well the previous night. The
papered walls and plush carpets discomfortingly muffle sounds and
their senses of space and balance. The beds which were
functional years ago now seem lavish beyond reason, so soft both
and Mehht found rest elusive. Earlier in the morning,
spent at least half an hour staring at her closet wondering how on
she ever owned enough gowns and frivolous adornments to occupy the
space. It’s not exactly a line of reasoning she needs to be
at this juncture. She knows she needs to shed her life in
if she has any hope of matching wits with what remains of the man she
They hear the male Twi’lek's heavy footfalls before he enters the
His skin is a deep crimson. Lethan Twi’lek are rare, males moreso
females. He would probably be famous even if he weren’t
“My lady,” he says, inclining his head deferentially as one corpulent
slips over his shoulder.
“Korto,” she replies. Padmé knows there must be an army of
that tend to the Emperor's needs. Korto is in charge of
Her stomach nearly turns at the thought of how very dangerous a
of his proclivities is in a position of such power. Times are
tough in this brave new world her husband has created. A
any position, within the Emperor's private staff would be highly
From his perch, Korto can exploit hundreds if not thousands of
"I trust that your journey went well," he says, glancing at Mehht.
Padmé's gut reaction is to tell him that their journey was none
his concern, but she holds her tongue. This is not the time for
honest conversation. Her diplomatic skills may not have been
in any official capacity for years, but she uses them often in the
of her marriage.
"Very well," she says. Her words are perfectly polite, but her
is colder than the surface of a planetoid in the Hoth system.
He knows well he has already overstayed his welcome. He looks at
floor rather than meeting her gaze. He may be repulsive, but he
not stupid. He will not provoke her. "My lord bids me ensure your
in all things," he replies.
"We are quite comfortable," she informs him.
"My lord – "
"That will be all, Korto." Her tone leaves no room for argument and he
bows again before leaving the room. Threepio follows him,
him from her apartment.
Mehht looks at her with an expression somewhere between confusion and
Padmé knows why. Mehht has never seen her like this,
behind her potent political armor. It's happening already.
is one of the reasons she stayed away so long.
She cannot live in his world without becoming something cold and
Padmé smiles warmly at Mehht. "I'm sorry," she says.
find Korto … unsettling."
Mehht smiles gently in return and some of her unease slips away.
understand," she says.
Padmé accepts her empathy, but in her heart, she knows that
does not understand. Mehht can't. Padmé hardly
it herself. Korto is physically repulsive to be certain.
Padmé has lived on the Hutt homeworld for more than a
It isn't the Twi'lek's physical proportions that unsettle her. It
even his abhorrent personality. Point of fact, her problem with
has very little to do with Korto himself. He's a deviant, a power
bottom-feeder, but if he were anyone else, she could look past him.
But Korto isn't anyone else. He's the Emperor's right hand.
vile, disgusting, amoral parasite is the closest thing the Emperor has
It's that thought that wounds Padmé so deeply.
She should be beyond this emotion. Her husband has committed so
atrocities in the name of peace that she should have given up.
faith should be depleted. But it isn't.
Anakin Skywalker was never a solitary creature. That was his
failing as a Jedi. He could never muster the indifference they
Of course, The Order wrapped their propaganda in grand themes,
to call their detachment by the more palatable name of compassion.
But she doubts now more than ever that it is even possible to embody
while shunning attachment. The two are inseparable. That
belief put the Order at odds with itself.
Padmé tries to turn her thoughts away. She has spent so
time – years – blaming the Jedi Order. She remembers the first
Anakin told her about the prophecy, that the Jedi believed him to be
Chosen One. Of course Anakin believed it as well, he has always
himself as more than human, more than a Jedi. But for all of
arrogance, he couldn't even begin to approach the epic proportions the
of the Jedi Order itself possessed. They were so self-righteous,
self-important that they chose to believe that balance in the universe
somehow intertwined with their own longevity and glory. They were
to the fact that they themselves were quite possibly what had thrown
natural order of the Force out of alignment.
Shadows exist only in the presence of light and the brighter the light,
deeper and darker those shadows. The Jedi Order existed for
of years, gaining ever more influence, territory and power. They
have seen it coming. They should have at least suspected that by
the force, Anakin would have to do something that wouldn't be in their
The logic is so circular it makes Padmé's head ache – and
Perhaps the Jedi did suspect that Anakin was somehow, at his core, at
with them. Perhaps that's why he distrusted them, why it was so
for Chancellor Palpatine to insinuate himself in Anakin’s life, play on
fears and widen that rift.
Padmé remembers her life as a younger woman, first as Queen,
as the Nubian Ambassador. She had the utmost respect for The Jedi
It hurts her to have these thoughts, these emotions toward them.
the longest time she – like a large portion of the galaxy's inhabitants
lived in awe of the Jedi Knights, of the Jedi Temple, of all of its
Even after her involvement with Anakin provided a closer view, she
It wasn't until Anakin's fall, until the death of her beloved Republic,
most importantly, the birth of her children, that she took a closer
Luke and Leia undoubtedly inherited some measure of their father's
In her self-imposed exile on Tatooine, she became a student of Jedi
and history. The closer she looked, the harsher her scrutiny.
Mehht tsks under her breath, shaking her head as Padmé folds the
and tucks it into the cloak's inner pocket. "Children need to
more respect," Mehht says.
Padmé smiles softly, stepping through the doors and into the
Opera House's opulent lobby. Leia was supposed to meet them here,
sent a note explaining that she was unavoidably detained.
doesn't even want to know what that means coming from a sixteen year
girl with the figurative (and possibly literal) keys to the
She isn't surprised, on the contrary, she was surprised when Leia
to attend. Padmé suspects it was because they took Leia
guard. For whatever reason, Leia was unaware of her mother's
and was visibly shocked when she walked into the private arboretum
that afternoon to find Padmé and Mehht inspecting the
Padmé doesn't know what to make of Leia's ignorance. It is
She assumed that Leia would have been informed of her arrival well in
by her father. She wasn't.
"Oh my," Mehht breathes, staring up at the grand chandelier.
Padmé glances at Mehht. Despite Mehht's earlier
on the deportment of children, Mehht isn't much older than
Twenty. Had Mehht's fiancé not died, Mehht would most
be considered a woman by Tatooine's standards. She would have
the head of her household with several children under foot, a farm to
and a household budget to watch.
"I forget how grandiose things are here," Padmé explains,
around the lobby, trying to remember the first time she was here.
night feels both foreign and familiar. She has enjoyed dozens of
here, but it was all so long ago.
Mehht accompanied Padmé to Coruscant ostensibly to act as a
but Mehht's life experience is woefully inadequate to prepare her as an
handmaiden. Shortly after their arrival on Coruscant,
contacted her former handmaiden, Dormé. Dormé's
Kore and another young woman, Sullee attended both Padmé and
Both women spent the better part of the day in Padmé's apartment
plucked and primped, massaged and moisturized until they bore little
to the Outer Rim moisture farmers who arrived three days
Lady Soh's gowns were delivered as promised and Padmé's is
exactly why Lady Soh is worth the staggering amount of credits she
The gowns are stunning to be certain, but more than that, they capture
mood. These aren't the flirty, coquettish gowns she favored
her time on Naboo with Anakin, nor are they the more stately, matronly
she preferred as a married woman during the Clone Wars. They most
don't resemble the formal ceremonial attire she donned as a
The gowns encompass a dazzling array of colors, fabrics and styles, yet
all suit her perfectly. They neither flaunt nor hide. They
beautiful without being ostentatious. These are the gowns of a
classic and ageless with a simplicity that speaks not to others’
but to Padmé’s truth.
The gown she has chosen to wear tonight is shimmersilk in an indigo so
it appears black. The intricate beading that decorates the
glitters under the chandeliers. Her body is firm and lithe from
of demanding manual labor and while the gown does not expose much skin,
hugs the contours of her womanly form in a manner that is quite
The sleeves are long and the hem would touch the ground were she not
the delicate, black, heeled sandals that make her a full two inches
than her natural height. She decided against wearing a cloak
the fact that she now finds the temperature of Coruscant uncomfortably
Just like her threadbare tunic, the simply braided hairstyle that
Padmé so well for so long is no longer appropriate. Her
tresses are pulled into an intricate knot at the nape of her
Strands of thin, black, shimmering ribbon are woven through the knot,
catching the light and glittering like jewels.
Padmé could not help but linger over her reflection in the
She doesn't recognize herself. That scares her more than she
Mehht shifts uneasily and Padmé cannot help but smile.
in her much simpler gown of unadorned rose colored Lashaa silk, Mehht
obviously ill at ease. She is not accustomed to this opulence and
accepts change with the begrudging wariness that is seemingly hard
into most of Tatooine's inhabitants.
As Padmé's eyes wander the lobby, she notices that little by
the crowded room's conversation falls off and heads turn her
A few moments later it is painfully obvious that the entire room is
She stands there, using every bit of influence she has over her
nervous system to will her cheeks not to flame. It has been so
since she was in the spotlight and even then, she was rarely inspected
such unbridled scrutiny and rabid curiosity. She wonders what
is thinking as they stare at the Emperor's long absent wife. She
most of them suspected she was dead.
A man clears his throat loudly and Padmé turns her head to see
pushing his way through the crowd toward her. He towers over most
them, his profile is unmistakable, even at a distance. Like a
of chastised children, most of the onlookers turn away, parting before
He reaches for her hands and she extends them gratefully.
"Bail," she says and try as she might, she can't prevent the slight
in her voice. She didn't expect this well of emotion. She
so grateful for his rescue, but she is almost overwhelmed at the sense
longing she has from merely glancing at him. He is such an
reminder of her forgotten life.
"I can't believe you're here," he says. "I heard so many rumors."
"Padmé?" Breha pulls her into an embrace before
has a chance to respond. The two women hug each other tightly and
tears glisten in Padmé's eyes. She knows better than to
them to fall in such a public place.
As they finally pull away, Padmé quickly blinks back the tears,
gratefully at her friends. "I missed you both so much," she says
"We feared the worst," Bail admits gravely. Padmé takes in
deep creases in his brow, the streaks of silver in his hair. He
still a strong man, physically and mentally, but she can see how the
have worn on him.
"I'm well," Padmé assures him and is more than a little shocked
realize she means it.
"How long have you been on Coruscant?" Breha presses. "Why didn't
contact us the moment you arrived?"
"We arrived three nights ago," Padmé explains, introducing Mehht
Senator and Queen Organa. She smiles wryly. "I didn't want
make a production of my return," she says. Her expression turns
"Obviously I failed spectacularly in that."
Bail cynically raises an eyebrow. "You're married to the
he says. "There's no way that a reaction could have been avoided."
Bail gives her a glance that Padmé chooses to ignore. Even
sixteen years, she still knows that look well – though this is the
time she's found herself on the receiving end. It's a mixture of
and suspicion. As much as it hurts, Padmé accepts it as
due. She is married to a dictator and rather than stand and fight
she has been hiding in the Outer Rim for the last decade and a
Of course Bail questions her motives and her unexpected
Bail undoubtedly wants to know the state of affairs between the Emperor
his Empress. Padmé has no intention of having that
yet when she has no idea herself. And she is in no hurry
Senator Organa to remind her of her long neglected duties to a Republic
no longer exists.
She long ago ceased to be a Senator or public servant.
Padmé knows that Bail wants to hear that truth even less than
wants to admit it.
The restaurant, Te, specializes in Anderaanian cuisine and is
to Padmé. For all its lavish appointments, it's much like
other chic eatery. Situated on the highest levels of one of
City's skyscrapers, it provides a breathtaking view and plenty of
The lights are dim and the food exquisite. The interior of the
is designed to provide patrons with the maximum amount of
Te can afford to sacrifice occupancy limits in exchange for exorbitant
Breha and Bail are incredibly kind to Mehht, going out of their way to
in her in the conversations both at the Opera House and at
They chat amiably and it gives Padmé a chance to quietly reflect
how substantially things have changed in her absence. She sips
spiced steamed wine slowly, savoring its decadent flavors. She
to block out everything save that one pleasure. Bail often shoots
glances across the table and Padmé does her best to avoid
By now news of her return will be all over HoloNet. Typho will
be pleased. He bolstered her security before they departed for
Opera House and by tomorrow morning, she knows that there will be
of guards in her detail. Though the dedicated professionals
her privacy as much as possible, their goal is not her peace of mind,
rather her physical safety. The two are often at odds.
Padmé quietly excuses herself from the table and makes her way
the sumptuously decorated facilities. She is ordered, rather than
to wait outside momentarily while the security officers make sure she
alone. Once that is done, she is given a modicum of privacy in
This is difficult.
Years of living on Tatooine have stripped away her armor. She has
what it's like to live under a microscope, to have her every move
through security cameras and comlinks. The invasion of privacy
like a physical assault. She doesn't know how she ever accepted
as a facet of normal life.
Tears prick her eyes and she tries to will them away. She knew
was going to be taxing. She knew she would have to sacrifice the
in which she cocooned herself.
She braces her hands against the cold stone vanity. She stares at
in the mirror. Her hair is dark, the few strands of gray that
there a week ago are now artfully hidden behind chemical colors.
tiny lines at the corners of her eyes and lips have almost been
into oblivion – but not quite. Her face is thin verging on
She has been unable to eat for weeks, her nerves wrung too thin with
and apprehension. But the old saying holds true that you can never be
thin or too rich and she suspects few will find fault in the way her
press against her skin.
She drops her gaze, staring down at her hands. Her hands, at
are the same as always. Her nails are neatly trimmed, but short
not camouflaged with enamel. Her fingers and knuckles are marred
many places by shiny, pale scars. Her hands are her badge of
proof that she has worked for something in this life. The scars
her heart, though infinitely more painful, are far less visible.
She starts to sigh, but stops, holding in the breath as the hairs at
back of her neck stand on end and something cold prickles up her
She looks into the mirror and meets his gaze. He’s standing
her, dressed in his black Jedi robes. He’s older, harder.
skin is pale, making the vertical scar across his right eye stand out
harsh relief. There is nothing soft in him, not the barest hint
innocence. His hair is clipped ruthlessly short and his face is
shaven. His eyes are still a piercing, vibrant blue and he is
handsome enough to make her knees go weak.
She becomes aware that she’s still holding her breath and forces
to release it, irritated with how shaky it sounds. She pushes
from the vanity, straightening her spine and holding her head as high
possible. She makes a show of smoothing down the front of her
pretending to take her time. Slowly, she turns, facing him across
space of several feet.
His eyes rake her over from head to foot and she’s perversely outraged
delighted by the way his lips curve into a wry smile of male
He ventures closer. His robes do not rustle and his booted feet
no noise on the expensive Wayland marble floor tiles. She is
again by how much the vibrant, dynamic man she married has become a
of silence and shadow.
He catches the flow of her emotions in the Force and stops, staring
at her from mere inches away. His head tilts to the side and he
her, his expression hard. She suspects that Lord Vader is not
to sensing pity in his prey. She cannot lie to herself and
she is anything other than a conquest to him at this point, a publicly
thorn in his pride.
“Anakin – “ Her voice echoes loudly in the tiled room.
He frowns at her and takes a step backward before apparently thinking
of retreating and stands his ground. “I don’t use that name,” he
She looks at him, shunning her politician’s training and not bothering
try and hide any of the exasperation and irritation she feels. “I
not address you as my lord,” she informs him curtly.
His expression is unreadable for several moments and she’s truly afraid
the Emperor’s notorious temper might manifest itself physically.
eventually his lips curve into a smile of genuine amusement. For
moment he looks like her Anakin, baiting her to get a response and then
her mercilessly. “I would expect not, Senator,” he
He's always had a way of saying that word that encompasses the thousand
of contempt the Jedi Order held for politicians.
She purses her lips at him, a look of censure he knows well. “Is
still a Senate?” she asks acidly. “I thought perhaps you had
He doesn’t take the bait, instead smiling at her with a cool, knowing
“All in good time,” he says.
She rolls her eyes and sighs, stepping away from him to pace around the
She doesn’t like that smile. It’s not one of Anakin’s smiles.
cruel twisting of flesh and muscle is purely a product of Lord Vader
she wants nothing to do with it. For all his faults, Anakin
wore his heart on his sleeve. He was always readable – despite
secretive nature - often unable to contain the sheer volume of his
But the cold, calculating man before her does not share those
He is guarded, elusive and undeniably dangerous. She retreats
to the other end of the room before turning to face him. “How
am I supposed to address you?” she demands.
He smiles again, that same bland, slightly condescending twisting of
lips that gives her no insight into what he feels. “Address me
you like, wife,” he says. “Your words will not change
She straightens her spine and meets his gaze. They’ll see about
“I must return to the table,” she says.
His bow is slightly mocking. “But of course. Give my best
Queen and Senator Organa.”
By the time they leave the restaurant, Typho’s complement of security
has been bolstered by a dozen Imperial soldiers dressed in crisp black
Mehht is obviously confused, but Bail shoots Padmé a knowing
“You were in the lounge for quite some time,” he says pointedly.
“I ran into someone,” she replies blandly, her gaze shifting away from
He is quiet and rather than finding anger in his eyes, he seems
Imperial soldiers approach and Bail doesn't flinch as they demand to
his documentation. How many times has he been detained, she
How many fists have knocked on their door in the middle of the
Anakin was never one to be subtle and in her absence, Senator Bail
must have made a convenient target for his frustrations.
The doubt that has been with Padmé for weeks solidifies into a
lump in her chest. What if Luke was wrong? What if there is
that can be done to save Anakin, to make him see reason and the
about to befall them all?
Padmé tries to regroup, to find her center, her faith.
is wise beyond his years and since his early childhood, he has been her
If anyone could see the good in Anakin, it's Luke.
She does not doubt Luke. What she doubts is her own ability to
Anakin. She fears her presence may only provoke him,
his resistance to their cause.
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