Twenty-Five Years
By Izzy

Eleven years ago, Padmé Amidala had known her husband had been spared the worst of fates, and she had decided then that should he die the next day in the line of duty, she would bear it well. And so she had continued to tell herself every time he had gone out to risk life and limb in the service of the Republic and the Force. Still, when the end finally came, the pain didn’t seem to be much less for it.

She sat with the twins, twenty-five years old exactly that day, and both long knighted. They had come together to deliver the news of his and Obi-Wan’s deaths; they had fallen together on Dac. “The Mon Calamari have paid to have the bodies taken to Ruisto, where they can be cremated. Mara’s on her way there from Yag’Dhul. If you want to attend, you should probably book passage for tonight. We’re leaving as quickly as possible if the Council allows it.”

“Do you think they will?” she asked, keeping her voice steady as possible.

“For Luke, if I can persuade them,” replied Leia.

“She’s really good at persuading the Council,” Luke noted. “I think she made good use of those years with Master Yoda.” Yoda himself had finished Leia’s training, and she was already getting a reputation as one of the best negotiators in the galaxy.

“But for yourself?”

A bitter laugh. “What was I to either Master Kenobi or Master Skywalker? Merely niece to the latter's wife.”

Except that everyone now knew otherwise. But there had been a Jedi Master and a Chancellor, well, former Chancellor now, with their reputations to protect, and so everyone still had to pretend that Luke and Leia Naberrie were nephew and niece to Padmé Amidala, and that her relationship with Anakin Skywalker had never been anything besides platonic until shortly after her election as Chancellor. They’d even held another wedding ceremony after Palpatine's death.

The three of them spent an hour together, mostly reminiscing and exchanging news, but Leia shocked her brother and mother both when she spoke about attending another funeral soon, that of her own former Master’s. “Master Yoda? But Master Yoda can’t-”

“Luke, he’s passed 900. His species may live a long time, but they’re not immortal. And the rise of the Sith over the past couple of decades has taken its toll on him. If they had triumphed, if father had turned, he would probably be dead by now.” She paused, and Luke and Padmé looked uncomfortably at each other. Leia had been witness to things they hadn’t eleven years ago, but she never spoke directly about either her own ordeal or how Anakin had reacted to it. “As it is, I’d say he has a year, two at the most, and then...”

Padmé held back her tears in front of her children. Nor did she cry right after they left. She mechanically booking passage to Ruisto, and then went to her closet to pack.

There, amoung her various dresses, she found a ripped cloak. Anakin’s. How long ago had he left it here, about to go off again, saying he’d take it back to the Temple and get it repaired when he came back? He’d forgotten about it, she supposed.

It was the scent that broke her. She found herself pressing her nose into the cloak’s folds, and an image came back to her from a night exactly fifteen years ago, of Anakin’s face half-buried in her hair, and the mad passion it had roused in her. And then she crumpled to the floor clutching the cloak to her breast, wailing out her anguish, her tears soaking the cloth.

From there the images came in torrents. She looked up at her clothes, and remembered how she’d worn each and every dress at some meeting with him. She stood up and stumbled back into her bedroom like a drunk. She found herself in one side of the room and remembered how she’d bowed to him when he’d come in during their estrangement-ten years they had wasted! She went to the other side and saw him again pacing back and forth, confessing to wanting what he shouldn’t, another chapter in his long struggle with the Dark Side, which for so many years she had refused to see. Into the living room, and she was confronted with the couch they had slept on that memorable night when he had won at last, though the cost of the war was such that it had been as much a night of comfort as of celebration.

To the kitchen-oh the kitchen! The spot where he had nearly kissed her on the twins’ eight nameday. The spot where he finally had on their tenth. The part of the wall she had thrown him against when she had kissed him back. They were all perfectly burned into her memories.

When she could think straight again, the first thing she decided was that after five year of semi-retirement, and the main reason for her staying on Coruscant gone, it was high time she returned to Naboo.

There wasn’t even any need to return here after tonight. She would go directly to Naboo from Dac. She could have her things sent after her. She might not ever set foot on Coruscant again, although with Luke and Leia still here, she supposed she still might.

Though it was short notice to send to Pooja, but Pooja didn’t really need her for anything anyway. In fact, sometimes she thought her niece was humoring her by keeping her on hire as an advisor. Noone knew what to do with a former Chancellor on Coruscant. Her energies just might be better spent on Naboo, with whatever she decided to do there.

Indeed, when she contacted Pooja, she got one of her handmaidens, who informed her the Senator would not be available for the next 26 hours, and assured her it was not necessary to transmit her resignation in person. The girl couldn’t have been twenty years old, and she clearly viewed the 52-year-old Padmé as a relic. Padmé only hoped she respected her mistress.

She ate dinner by herself that night, and drank most of the wine she had in the apartment. She put on her simplest clothes before she flagged down a taxi; she didn’t want to attract attention.

But the Givin driver recognized her, and she hadn’t even sat down when she found herself on the receiving end of a large amount of praise. “Your output,” he concluded, “tilted the axis of the Republic directly into the positive quadrant after it had seemed its fractures would never have added up into a whole again.”

“Thanks,” she replied, “but I would think a lot of the praise for that would go to Chancellor Organa, not me.”

“He reset the equation well, yes,” the driver replied, “but you assigned the final values to the variables. Solving the equation of the Republic after the war took many lengthy calculations, and you computed them accurately. May I query for your point of destination?”

“Westport,” she replied. “I'm going home.”