of the Father: Chapter 3
wakes Padmé from her restless sleep moments before Typho pounds on
her bedroom door.
he bellows. “There is an intruder.”
There is a rustle
and Padmé sweeps her eyes to the side. She sees the cloaked
form standing in the shadows and her heart catches in her throat for a moment.
Ironically, it’s Artoo
that sets her mind at ease. He’s rolled himself into the middle of
the room, positioned between Padmé and the trespasser. Unceremoniously,
he makes a noise that sounds suspiciously like a child blowing a raspberry
and quickly retracts his various sensors. Padmé watches as he
returns to his post in the corner of the room, obviously unconcerned.
need to be Force sensitive to know who is standing in the middle of her bedroom
just as dawn is beginning to turn the sky pink. “Do you want me to
ask the cook to make Muja muffins?” she asks blandly. “I think she
was planning to make lamta, but I know you don’t like that.”
The irritated sigh
is so quintessentially that of a teenage girl, that Padmé has to stop
herself from smiling. A smile will most certainly not be appreciated
by her visitor. Padmé learned long ago that Leia is just as
mercurial as her father, and her temper is just as easily provoked.
Padmé desperately hopes it's a stage out of which her daughter will
“It’s all right, Captain,”
Padmé calls toward the door where she suspects Typho is now looking
for a cutting torch.
“It’s just Leia,”
smile this time because despite the closed door separating them, she can
clearly hear the stream of curses Captain Typho mutters under his breath.
Leia has always excelled at pushing the man’s patience to the very limit.
"You could have used
the door," Padmé says gently, swinging her legs over the side of the
bed and rising to stand.
Leia's only answer
is a derisive snort.
As Padmé pulls
her own pale blue robe on over her nightgown, Leia shrugs out of her black
away so Leia won't see the frown the tugs at her lips. Leia is dressed
in black from head to toe. Synthleather pants hug tightly to her hips
and buttocks. Though the long sleeved, high-necked shirt should be
sufficiently modest, it's not, due to the fact that it's made from semi-transparent
zoosha fabric. Her ruggedly constructed boots appear to be more suited
to combat than sneaking around the Senate apartment buildings.
It's obvious that
Leia has been out all night. Padmé bites her lip to stop herself
from demanding to know what havoc Leia has wrought. Leia is her daughter
and in Padmé's eyes, still very much a child. Padmé is
all too aware of the immense amount of maturation that still remains to be
done. But Padmé also remembers that by this age, she had already
served two years as Queen. At sixteen, Anakin was a Padawan learner
and faced any number of dangers alongside his mentor.
Leia is pacing around
the room like a caged nexu. Padmé knows it's far better to wait
for her daughter to speak than to push her, so she walks into her closet,
searching for attire. She pulls out a simple pair of pants and matching
top in a sage green. The material is delectably soft and though it
wouldn't be suitable for public, it is more than sufficient for breaking
her fast in the privacy of her own apartment. She quickly changes into
"You missed a fine
performance last night," Padmé says lightly.
"I suppose Mehht was
all with the oohs and the ahhs over the running water
and electricity," Leia counters scornfully.
This one, Padmé
doesn't let slide. Slowly, she pivots around and fixes her daughter
with a positively withering expression. Somewhat to Padmé's
surprise, Leia has the decency to look chastised. "I do believe Mehht
enjoyed it as well," Padmé says. "You can ask her at breakfast."
that Leia would love nothing more than to refuse. However, for all
of Leia's independent and rebellious nature, there is still something of
a little girl in her that isn't quite ready to leave the nest entirely.
Leia flops down onto
the unmade bed, unlacing her boots and crawling under the covers. "I
don't want lamta," she whines pitifully.
the temptation to roll her eyes as she walks to the antique Oro wood vanity
near the window. "Artoo," she says, "please have Threepio request that
the cook make Muja muffins this morning."
reply sounds patently disapproving, but he quickly bypasses security on Padme’s
bedroom door and wheels himself down the hall in search of his protocol droid
down at the vanity and pulls the brush through her hair while studying Leia's
reflection in the mirror. "Chiski was asking about you the other day,"
One of Leia's eyebrows
arches in an expression that is pure Anakin. "Where'd you run into him?"
she asks, attempting to sound casual and failing miserably.
Chiski Roan is the son of a pourstone merchant back in Anchorhead on Tatooine.
He has been a friend of the twins for as long as Padmé can remember.
In the last several years, Chiski has grown from a charming, rambunctious
little boy into a strikingly handsome young man. Padmé knows
she is not the only one who has noticed.
"I rode with Owen
to Tosche Station last week," Padmé says. "Chiski was up there
working on a pod racer with Fixer and Biggs."
Leia seems to consider
this information for a moment. Padmé divides her long hair into
three strands and quickly braids it with well-practiced motions.
"When are you going
home?" Leia asks.
her in the mirror before turning to face her. "What makes you think
I'm going back to Tatooine?" she asks.
Leia stares at her
blankly for a moment and then shrugs. "You have Mehht with you," she
says. "You can't tell me that she's moving here."
agrees, "Mehht is just visiting. She was kind enough to keep me company
on the trip here."
Leia reads between
the lines. "But you're staying?"
"I don't know," Padmé
admits, rising to her feet and pacing to the window. The high-speed
air travel lanes are already packed with the morning rush. She leans
her forehead against the transparisteel window. “Perhaps I could be
of some good here,” she says wistfully. “Mehht and I had dinner with
Senator Organa and his wife last night. Bail mentioned that he and
Mon Mothma are inundated with work. Perhaps I could do something to
“Oh.” Padmé turns
in time to see Leia’s smug grin on her face.
“You didn’t by any
chance run into my father last night did you?” she asks in a knowing tone.
her daughter for several moments before she finally answers. “Yes.”
Leia nods and sits
up in bed, scooting to the edge and then rising to her feet. “He was
in fine form last night,” she
says sardonically. “I wondered what set him off.”
want to ask. She has gone out of her way for years to not put the twins
between her and Anakin. But she can’t help herself. “What was
he doing?” she asks.
Absently, she reaches out with the Force and summons a Sepp crystal ballerina
figurine from Padme’s vanity. “Yelling mostly,” she says blandly, moving
her hand and causing the figurine to pirouette gracefully in mid air.
No doubt by this point, both Leia and Luke are generally inured to their
father’s temper. “He was trying to contact Luke. Lieutenant Veers
was supposed to be keeping tabs on Luke, but when Veers couldn’t find Luke,
Dad sort of ... strangled him.” She looks
at Padmé and shrugs. “A little.” she amends.
fall. This is the man she’s supposed to be reaching out to, the one
who is enraged by a simple dinner she had with old friends and takes out
his fury on his underlings.
Easily reading her
mother’s emotions, Leia adds, “Veers will be fine.”
at her daughter. “That doesn’t excuse the behavior, Leia.”
Leia rolls her eyes,
convinced her mother is overly sensitive.
again at the futility of her actions.
“Kore and Sullee found
the trunks you were asking about,” Mehht says, absently blowing a curling
tendril of blondish brown hair out of her green eyes. She’s standing
in Padme’s sitting room, hands on her hips. They’ve spent hours sorting
through closets and storage rooms.
“Did they open it
yet?” Padmé asks. Like Mehht, she’s once again dressed in her
simple beige tunic. It’s appropriate for the messy task of sorting
through things that haven’t been touched in years, but it is also as comforting
as it is comfortable.
“They didn’t say,”
Mehht replies. “You know,” she says pointedly, “it would be easier
to find things if you’d tell us what we’re looking for.”
Mehht has a very valid
point, but Padmé doesn’t feel like sharing. “I’m just looking,”
she says evasively. Kneeling on the carpeted floor, she continues to
sort through the box of papers in her lap. “Maybe we’ll find something
“Useful,” Mehht parrots
doubtfully. “As far as I can tell, when you were a Senator you didn’t
own a single useful thing.”
From Mehht’s point
of view, the statement is most certainly true. On Tatooine, a woman
is expected to have any number of useful tools in her possession. With
a climate so harsh and changeable that it will quickly kill the unprepared,
life sustaining paraphernalia are an absolute necessity. However, Padmé
wonders if Mehht’s outlook might not be a bit different had her fiancé
not perished so early in their courtship. A married woman needs any
number of tools and at times, the ones made of silk and lace can be just
as useful as durasteel and multitools.
“Senator Amidala was
surprisingly resourceful even without a utility belt.”
Padmé and Mehht
both startle, turning toward the door. Anakin is standing there, once
again dressed in his black robes of zeyd-cloth and leather. His eyes
meet Padmé’s and hold them for several long moments before he turns
his attention to Mehht.
“You must be Mehht
Whitesun,” he says.
Mehht opens her mouth
to speak, but then shuts it and nods quickly. On the Lars homestead,
the Emperor is not often discussed unless the twins are recounting a specific
incident. But even in the Outer Rim, his reputation is well known.
Mehht is terrified.
says gently, “please find Kore and Sullee and ask them to move the trunk
to my bedroom.” Grateful for the reprieve, Mehht nearly runs from the
her attention back to Anakin to find him smiling cruelly at Mehht’s retreating
form. He looks back to her and his smile fades under her withering
“It is quite beyond
me,” she says hotly, “why the Emperor would go out of his way to terrorize
an anonymous young woman from the Outer Rim.”
“Oh, come now, Padmé,”
he says, his voice rife with condescension, “she’s hardly anonymous.
By all accounts Mehht Whitesun is the best friend and closest confidant of
Empress Skywalker. You can’t really think I would consider her beyond
Typho out of the corner of her eye. He’s standing in the hallway, ready
to intercede instantly if she wishes. Padmé’s cheeks turn pink
with shame. She is often appalled, but rarely shocked by Anakin’s behavior.
However, knowing other people see this side of him humiliates her.
This is the man to whom she pledged her heart. This is the father of
Perhaps Typho senses
her shame and takes pity – or perhaps he’s interested in self-preservation.
Either way, he retreats down the hall, leaving Padmé and the Emperor
She sets down the
box she’s holding and folds her hands in her lap. She stares blindly
at the Japor snippet she has worn around her left wrist for the last eighteen
years. “Why are you doing this, Anakin?” she asks quietly.
He doesn’t answer.
Instead, he crosses the room. He stands in front of the window, hands
clasped behind his back, feet apart, back ramrod straight. His head
is held high. From what she can see of his profile, his chin juts out
defiantly. He stares out the window, surveying his empire.
“Why are you here?”
he asks without turning to face her.
“Do you wish me to
leave?” she counters.
He turns to her, lips
pursed tightly. He’s always hated it when she answers a question with
a question. “I didn’t say that,” he replies.
With far more grace
than should be possible, Padmé rises to her feet, refusing to kneel
before him. She smoothes down the front of her tunic and Anakin’s eyes
follow the movements of her hands. He stares at her clothing for a
long moment, his expression a strange mixture of irritation and pleasure
that makes no sense to Padmé.
He forces his attention
away from her garments and back to her face. “You are welcome here
for as long as you like,” he says. “You have always been welcome here.”
She tilts her head
to the side and studies him for a moment. He accepts the scrutiny in
silence, but it’s all for naught. She has no more insight into him
or his motives than she had last night at Te.
“And if I care to
assume a more formal role?” she asks.
He smiles Lord Vader’s
cold, empty smile. “Whatever you wish, my love.”
"All of them?" Padmé
Senator Bail Organa
looks at her from his position across the room. "Yes," he says solemnly.
He locates the datapad for which he has been searching and returns to the
conference room table where he and Padmé are sorting through literally
mounds of refugee relocation paperwork. The volume of work to be done
“There’s no formal
governing board for these requests?” she asks.
“There’s an Office
of Displaced Populations,” he replies. “But they’re under staffed and
under motivated. They’re more of a hindrance than a help. We
lost almost three hundred thousand refugees in the Bajic sector last year
after a biohazard contamination. ODP dragged their heels so long that
we had nearly a hundred percent fatality.”
“Who is responsible
for this?” Padmé demands. The obvious answer, of course, is
the Emperor. However, Padmé knows – as does Bail – that Anakin
does not concern himself with a good portion of the Empire’s daily grind.
“Mas Amedda and Orn
Free Taa,” Bail says gravely. “They’re corrupt to the core, both of
them. And they’re left largely to their own devices.”
Bail looks at Padmé
and the unspoken request nearly reverberates in the air. Do something.
away, staring blindly out the window. Slowly, she nods.
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