of the Father: Chapter 5
on the veranda of the apartment she once claimed as Senator of the Chommell
Sector. By rights, the penthouse should now be assigned to Padmé’s
niece, Pooja Naberrie, the current publicly elected Senator. However,
the Naboo Embassy has been assigned new space in 500 Republica and this apartment
has been expanded and is now reserved strictly for the Empress’s use.
Padmé appreciates Anakin’s kindness as much as she is bothered by
Pooja is a beautiful
young woman. Padmé has glimpsed her on HoloNet several times
over the years. Pooja’s older sister, Ryoo, is now married and living
with her husband and young son on Naboo. Padmé hasn’t seen either
of her nieces since they were young children. It is one of the many
regrets she carries in her heart. She hopes that one day soon she will
find the strength to face her family, to offer them some explanation and
beg their forgiveness. But she is not yet ready.
The twins know their
cousins, Leia moreso than Luke. Leia spends a lot of time following
the proceedings of the Imperial Senate. In this, if nothing else, Leia
is definitely her mother’s daughter. Leia understands political maneuvering
and the subtle art of persuasion. Padmé always thought she would
be proud to have her daughter follow in her footsteps. It is not pride
Luke, on the other
hand, seems as disinterested in politics as his father. Padmé
watches her son as he gracefully moves through his lightsaber forms in the
early morning light. She clearly remembers Anakin doing the same thing
during those golden days they spent on Naboo.
Luke finishes his
forms and turns to her, crossing the distance and embracing her in a hug.
“I’m sorry I missed
you last night,” Padmé says. “We were at the ODP offices until
is concerned. “You should get some more sleep,” he says.
off his worry. “I’ve spent quite enough time convalescing,” she says
dryly. “I’ll survive a few late nights.”
Luke escorts his mother
to a small table on the veranda where a light breakfast has been arranged.
He waits until she is seated and then takes a chair.
“How was your trip?”
Padmé asks, pouring steaming caf into a delicate cup.
Luke studies her for
a moment, taking the time to pour his own cup of caf before he replies.
“Important,” he finally answers.
watching her son carefully. As a child he was so open and gregarious,
but with age, he has become more and more secretive. Padmé has
never pushed because her trust in her son is unshakeable. However,
she still worries.
“Where did you go?”
she asks, knowing she is pressing him far harder than she would usually dare.
He’s quiet a moment.
“Ask me again sometime,” he says evasively.
wonders what answer Luke offered his father, but she allows him his secret.
Gracefully, she changes the subject to her eventful return to Coruscant.
They chat easily, both of them picking at their breakfasts. Padmé’s
vision falls on the lightsaber clipped to Luke’s belt and she can’t help
herself from prying.
“Does your father
instruct you and Leia in the ways of the Force?” she asks.
Luke’s eyes go wide
for a moment. Her question is unprecedented. There were several
years in the twins’ early childhood when she categorically refused to refer
to her husband in any capacity. She has always avoided asking the twins
about their dealings with Anakin.
Luke wipes his mouth
with his napkin. “When we were younger, yes,” he answers.
“And now?” Padmé
“And now … we don’t
talk about it,” Luke admits. Padmé’s expression is full of curiosity
and Luke shrugs. “I think it was easier for him when we were younger,”
he explains. “It was more about deflecting blaster bolts with a lightsaber
or levitating objects. He spent a little time working on perception,
influence, but …”
encourages him to continue.
“The older we got,
the harder it became for him. I
think,” Luke adds
wryly. Padmé understand the reaction well. She doubts Anakin
has ever discussed his thoughts or feelings on this subject with either of
the twins. It’s entirely Luke’s intuition, which Padmé trusts.
“Leia and I reached
a point in our training where we really needed to discuss the intention behind
our actions. Light. Dark. Balance.” Luke sighs. “He
shut down. Shut us out.”
her lower lip and leans back in her chair as she crosses her arms over her
chest. “I saw him training a few days ago,” she says.
Luke’s eyebrows shoot
“He was sparring with one of his assassins. He was using these animals
“He does that,” he says. “Jedi and Sith are so attuned to the Force
that its absence can be almost debilitating. If someone with any sense
were to attempt a coup or an attack against him, using ysalamiri would be
their best bet. It would level the playing field.”
“So he’s trying to
be proactive?” Padmé asks. “By training himself to be able to
react without the Force as a guide?”
says. “I also think he does it just to see if he can do it.”
farther back in her chair, considering this. “Don’t you think that
for someone who has dedicated his life to the Force, that it’s a bit …”
She tries to think of words other than perverse, deviant or abhorrent
Anakin’s behavior to his son. “Odd?”
Luke smiles and Padmé
knows he knew exactly what she had been intending to say. ‘I’ve never
noticed that Father is particularly bound by anyone else’s idea of what he
should or shouldn’t be doing.”
back her cynical laugh. Anakin destroyed a thousand generations of Jedi
tradition. No, he most certainly is not bound by anyone else’s standards.
that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Anakin was
never disciplined. Not as a Padawan, not as a Jedi Knight, most certainly
not as a member of the Jedi Council. He was always smart enough, charming
enough and possessed of enough raw talent, ability and power that he didn’t
need discipline. That the same defiant, rebellious attitude is still
firmly entrenched, regardless of the fact that he is a Sith Lord.
of Sith tradition is spotty at best. But she does know enough to know
that Sith Lords probably don’t love their children – if they even have children.
If there is anything pure left in him, it’s his care for his children.
Padmé is staking all their fates on that bet.
at her chrono and sighs. It’s already past five and she told Anakin that
she would make an appearance at a formal dinner for the Hapan envoy tonight.
There’s no way she’s going to be finished sorting through the latest round
of asylum requests and ration dispersals. She rubs the back of her
neck with her hand.
Anakin mentioned the
dinner in passing two days ago when she contacted him to intervene in an
incident with Grand Moff Tarkin. Tarkin seemed to think that three
Capital class ships were serving the Empire better in cold storage than by
being used to deliver medical supplies. Anakin sided with her, though
she suspects it was due more to his loathing for Tarkin and the aristocratic
snobbery he represents than any loyalty Anakin feels for her. That's
fine with Padmé. She has no compunctions about using Anakin's
inability to play nice with others to further her own causes.
doesn’t think tonight's dinner is overly important. Maybe she’ll send
“We need to go,” Mehht
says again, arms crossed over her chest.
up, clearly exasperated. “There’s still so much to do,” she says.
“Aren't you going?”
Mehht demands. Mehht doesn’t want to go. She’s made that painfully
clear. But she also doesn’t like changing her plans at the last minute.
It disrupts her sense of order.
“I don’t want to,”
She knows this is
precisely the type of event for which Anakin wants an Empress. He’s
horrible with politics, negotiations and small talk. Not to mention
she knows it has been a constant affront to his pride that his wife has been
absent so long. She looks at the stack of paperwork. It’s certainly
not going anywhere.
“I want to see her,”
Mehht says speculatively. “I wonder what a Queen looks like.”
Her gaze flickers over Padmé and she catches herself. “Oh, other than you, I mean,” she amends.
She knows that especially at this moment, she is no one’s idea of a queen
– or Empress. She looked presentable enough when she left her apartment
in the morning, but after so many hours of digging through mountains of paper
and swilling old caf, she’s well aware her moisture farmer roots are showing.
But that still doesn’t explain what Mehht means. “Queen? What
queen?” Padmé asks.
“Oh, the …” Mehht
says, searching for the correctly words. She makes a circular gesture
with her hand, prompting Lorian.
Over the last few
days, Lorian has warmed up a degree or two. He’s still frozen to his
icy, assassin core, but he will now occasionally respond to direct questions.
He gives Mehht a very put-upon expression. “The Hapan Queen Mother,”
Lorian answers. “Ta’a Chume.”
furrows. “The dinner is supposed to be for the Hapan envoy,” she says.
“Not the Queen Mother.” The Hapes Consortium has existed in isolation
from the rest of the galaxy for thousands of years. If this is indeed a dinner
for the Queen Mother, it’s of vital importance. It's an opportunity
to re-establish relations with a potentially powerful ally.
“You really need to
start watching HoloNet,” Mehht says dryly.
to her feet and starts towards the door. Lorian immediately flanks
her as Mehht hurries to catch up. There is no way Padmé is missing
this dinner. She just hopes there is time to make herself presentable.
“How long have you
known about this?” Padmé asks Mehht as they climb into the transport
to return to her apartment.
“It was announced
this morning,” Mehht says, her tone now more conciliatory. She obviously
didn’t realize that Padmé didn’t know. “The Vice Chair of the
Senate arranged it. He seemed quite proud of himself. Massam Deeda
“Mas Amedda,” Padmé
automatically corrects, her features tightening instantly.
“I take it you know
him,” Mehht says carefully.
“He’s close friends
with Orn Free Taa,” Padmé explains.
The rest of the short
trip is in silence. Once the transport lands, Padmé quickly hurries
to the private turbolift and her apartment. She heads directly to the
refresher where she quickly showers and washes her hair. She’s still
dripping wet, wrapped in a robe with her hair twisted into a towel on top
of her head when Mehht walks into her bedroom.
“I talked to Kore,”
Mehht says quietly.
from Mehht’s tone that it’s not good news. Kore’s mother, Dormé,
married Giddean Danu, an influential Senator from the Kuat Sector and political
ally of Bail Organa and Mon Mothma. Any information from Kore is on
to think that this is Mas Amedda’s attempt to get rid of you.”
She already had that figured out. “What I want to know is if the Hapan
Queen Mother is complicit,” Padmé says. “I’m sure Mas Amedda
and Orn Free Taa think it would be incredibly convenient if the Emperor threw
me in jail and married Ta’a Chume.”
Mehht gives her a
wry look. “Yes,” she says bluntly. “And if half the things HoloNet
says about that woman are true, it was probably her idea.”
sure about that. It's impossible to know Ta'a Chume's motives at this
point – if ever. Padmé rather doubts that the Hapan Queen Mother
has designs on Anakin, but she knows enough to avoid ruling out any scenario.
The Hapans have been isolationists for thousands of years and as such, the
Imperial intel on them is dubious at best. The only thing Padmé
knows for certain is that the Hapans are a merciless, opportunistic society
obsessed with court intrigue and power. Ta'a Chume has been the Queen
Mother for at least a decade which is more than sufficient testament to her
own ruthlessness. Padmé has no idea what the Queen Mother might
have to gain by forging formal ties with the Empire. Snaring Anakin
would most certainly add to Ta'a Chume's power base, but such a union would
likely prove more trouble than it's worth - for both parties.
Anakin has never been one to feel threatened by powerful women, however,
the Hapans are a matriarchal society. Anakin may be attracted to strong
females, but Padmé seriously doubts he has any intentions of taking
orders from one.
aside, Padmé knows that Ta'a Chume is very adept at finding ways to
get what she wants. Anakin's abhorrence for politics and subtle manipulation
leaves him paradoxically vulnerable to such attacks. And Padmé
cannot discount the rumors of Ta'a Chume's attractiveness. The Hapans
have been bred for beauty for thousands of years. Padmé has
never seen Ta'a Chume, but she's willing to wager the Queen Mother is nothing
short of stunning.
her lower lip and stares at the wooden trunk at the end of her bed.
She takes a deep breath and steels her resolve. She walks to the trunk
and opens the lid. Mehht watches as she carefully removes item after
item until she finds it.
"Is that what you
had us all digging around closets for the other day?" Mehht asks.
Reverently, she unfolds the material and lays the dress out on the bed.
Mehht looks at the
dress and then arches a judgmental eyebrow at Padmé. “You’re
not leaving the apartment in that, are you?”
but holds her head high. “It still fits,” she says defensively.
Mehht doesn’t look
“I need help with
my hair,” Padmé says, walking toward her vanity.
The heat of the moment
has passed along with almost all of Padmé’s bravado and she is trying
not to feel ridiculous in the gown she has chosen to wear for the evening.
The Felpajh 10A shuttle's windows are dimmed, but the lights of passing air
traffic are still visible as they make their way to the Imperial Palace. Despite the state
of the art climate controls on the luxury shuttle and her own heavy black
velvet hooded cloak, Padmé is still cold. She pulls the cloak
more tightly around her body.
The last time Padmé
wore this gown, she was a girl. Perhaps not in age, but definitely
in her heart. She was careless and perhaps a bit cruel the one and
only time she ever wore the gown. The cruelty was not intentional.
She was ignorant and naive. She only knew that she felt womanly and
empowered wearing the gorgeous gown, but she had been supremely unclear on
her own intentions. She hadn’t known what she wanted, other than to
attract the attention of her handsome young Jedi protector. She most
She is hoping it will
This time Padmé’s
intentions are painfully clear. She has ignored the persistent rumors
of Anakin’s consorts over the years. His fidelity isn’t the issue tonight.
He can entertain himself with as many dance hall Twi’leks as he wants.
What is not permissible to Padmé
is a threat to her throne and her children. Ta’a Chume would make a
potent political ally and a stunning Empress. Padmé cannot allow
that to happen. She knows exactly what this dress means and what it
Anakin still wants
her. Padmé has known that since their standoff shortly after
her return to Coruscant. She isn't naïve enough to think that
he loves her – that emotion is reserved for Luke and Leia. But he still
finds her physically attractive. He wants to possess her. She
supposes she should take some measure of comfort in the fact that he would
never use force. The same pride that will never allow him to beg also
prevents him from using coercion, Force manipulation or physical strength
to cow her into submission. He wants her - but he wants her to want
him. He wants her to willingly walk into the demon's embrace.
Mas Amedda has forced
She may take that
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