by indie
set in the The Senator's Wife au universe.
Takes place about nine months after 'Revenge of the Sith'

"It's about time you came home for a visit."

Padmé looks over at her older sister, ignoring the chastising glare. "It hasn't been that long."

"It has too and you know it," Sola counters. "You shouldn't do that to Mom. Especially not when grandchildren are involved."

"So Pooja and Ryoo don't count now?" Padmé asks sourly. She glances out the windows, watching her parents play with the twins in the garden.

"It's hardly the same. Luke and Leia are babies."

Padmé sighs, again wondering at the wisdom of her vacation. It would be easier if Bail were here to buffer between Padmé and her family, but he was called away just as they were leaving for Naboo. Hopefully he will be able to join them in several days. "It's difficult to get away from Coruscant."

"You're retired."

"But Bail isn't."

Silence settles between the two sisters. Sola picks up the pair of knitting needles and ball of yarn she set on the table earlier and resumes her project to knit matching hats for the twins.

"So … " Sola prods, "your marriage to Bail was quite unexpected. You had a very short courtship."

Padmé glances up at her sister. "Bail and I have known each other for years. We've always been close friends."

"Friends, yes, but I didn't realize it had become more than that. No one realized it had become more than that."

Padmé doesn't reply, both irritated and saddened by her sister's questions. It's true her marriage to Bail shocked the family, though Padmé knows a big part of the reason it was so shocking is that she no longer confides in her sister or her mother. Their lives are simply too different. Padmé hoped having children would heal some of that rift. And it has in certain ways. But in other ways it simply made it more apparent.

"Why did you take Bail's name?" Sola asks.

Padmé groans and cradles her head in her hands. "Mom took Dad's last name. Why is this such a big deal?"

"I didn't say it was a big deal. I'm just asking."

"Because Bail is the last of his line, okay? And Ryoo and Pooja already have the Naberrie name."

Silence once again descends. Several minutes later, Sola says gently, "I wasn't judging. I was just asking."

Padmé shoots her sister a wry, disbelieving glance but doesn't reply.

"You look better," Sola says, quickly scanning Padmé with her eyes. "A lot better than when Mom and I came to see you on Coruscant right after the twins were born."

Padmé shrugs and looks away. "It was a … difficult time."

"I know how closely you worked with the Jedi. It can't have been easy to witness their extermination."

Padmé doesn't look up. She can't. "No. It wasn't easy."

Sola sets her knitting down on the table and stands. She walks to the windows and watches her parents playing with their youngest grandchildren. It is a beautiful spring day and the babies, who are just learning to crawl, love being outside in the fresh air. "Leia looks just like you when you were little," Sola says with a grin. "And just as ornery."

Padmé looks up at her sister and smiles.

"And Luke looks just like his father," Sola adds quietly.

Padmé swallows thickly and forces herself to laugh. "Bail will love to hear that. Everyone thinks Leia is the one that looks like him."

Sola's expression becomes serious, but still kind. "I don't mean Bail, Padmé. I mean your Jedi."

Padmé's eyes sting with tears and she has to blink quickly to prevent them from falling. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Please stop, Padmé," Sola softly rebukes, her voice gentle despite the intensity of her words. "I know."

Padmé stares at the tabletop for several long moments before she lifts her head. "Does Mom know?"

"Yeah.” Sola nods. "But I don't think Dad does."

Padmé sits there thinking she should feel relieved, but mostly she tries not to burst into tears.

"Does Bail know?"

"Of course he knows," Padmé counters, outraged. "What kind of monster do you think I am?"

Sola hold her hands up in surrender. "I wasn't implying anything."

"Yes you were," Padmé snaps. She stands up and walks into the kitchen trailed by Sola. "You were implying I tricked Bail into marrying me."

"Not tricked," Sola clarifies. "I simply thought it might have been … convenient."

At Padmé's outraged look, Sola takes a step back. "I don't mean to sound mercenary," she stresses. "I just mean …" She sighs, looking at her sister with concern. "Padmé you looked so awful when we saw you, so sad. I know Anakin must have been killed with the rest of the Jedi."

Padmé flinches as if struck by Sola's words.

Sola reaches out, taking one of Padmé's hands. "For you to not even be able to mourn him … Padmé, I'm sorry."

Padmé allows Sola to pull her into a hug and is shocked to find comfort in her sister's embrace. She hugs Sola tighter, sobbing quietly.

"You loved him, didn't you?" Sola asks.

"Yes," Padmé chokes.

Padmé finally pulls away, looking at her sister. Sola reaches up, gently wiping away one of Padmé's tears. "I'm so sorry, Padmé," she says. "I'm so sorry for all you've lost."

Padmé smiles, both grateful and bitter. "You have no idea," she whispers.

[End Section]

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