Unpacking Bags
By Izzy

People stopped and stared when they saw a woman as pregnant as Padmé walk down the road carrying a full sack in each hand. She was actually carrying the lightest two, at her nieces' insistence; Ryoo carried the heaviest and Pooja the next-heaviest. But they were all loaded down with a week’s worth of food for seven people, one of whom was eating for three. Her family had tried to talk Padmé out of doing the shopping this week, but the pregnancy had never caused her any fatigue or physical difficulties; in fact, she felt more energetic and much more aware, some sort of sixth sense in her awakening to power around her almost supernatural.

Besides, after two days of sitting in her room crying, then trying to work on her basket weaving, failing, and just crying more, Padmé had needed to do something like this. Especially after what she had sensed through the Force the previous night.

But she had the feeling she was going to start crying again when she got home and found Sola standing at the door, waiting for her, a solemn look on her face.

“Let me help you with those,” she said, and she took Pooja’s sack and one of Padmé’s. Without another word she led them inside and to the kitchen, and all four set to work putting things away.

Padmé had a piece of fruit in both hands and was stacking it with the others on the chill-shelf when Pooja asked quietly, “Ma, is Anakin dead?” Padmé braced herself for the confirmation of what she had privately known for nearly 15 hours now.

“We still don’t know,” said Sola. “But...according to the news, Obi-Wan Kenobi is. Though he took Palpatine’s thug, Darth Vader, with him.”

“What happened?” asked Padmé, feeling guilty over her relief, especially since it didn't mean anyone was not dead; it just meant another person was.

“We can’t really know. The official report talks about him slipping into the empty Senate complex and attacking Vader and causing an explosion that killed them both, and that’s as likely an account as any, but we can’t rely on its truth. What we can rely on is that they’re both dead.”

A brave, desperate act. Padmé had never met Master Kenobi, and since she had been engaging in an illicit relationship with his former padawan she had hoped never to do so, but she admired him by reputation, and would mourn for him.

“So Anakin might still be alive?” asked Ryoo.

“No,” said Padmé before Sola could answer. “He’s dead.”

“You don’t know that, Padmé,” Sola started.

“No, actually, I do. He was killed last night. I don’t know how or where, but I felt his death.” She paused to take several tins out of the last sack and added, “Please don’t ask me anymore. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t even want to think about it.”

Her hands trembled as she took the tins to their shelf. She heard her sister respond, “Padmé, I am sorry, but I must ask. How certain are you that Anakin Skywalker is dead?”

“Absolutely certain.” Her hands were now shaking so hard it was impossible for her to stack the tins straight, but she somehow managed to keep her voice even, so as to leave Sola no doubt at all.

She got back to the sacks and was unloading the rest of the tins before her sister spoke again. “Well then, Padmé, I really am sorry. We might not have really known Anakin, unfortunately, but I can understand how deeply you cared for him.”

Can you really? Padmé secretly wondered, though she knew it was unfair of her.

“Can Aunt Padmé get married now?” Pooja asked.

“Pooja!” Ryoo cried, shocked.

“But shouldn’t she?” Pooja protested. “When she was with Anakin obviously she couldn’t marry, but now that he’s dead, shouldn’t she get the babies a father?”

“If I married a man right now, it wouldn’t be fair to him,” Padmé answered, walking back to the tin shelf. “In the future, maybe.”

“How can it not be fair to Anakin?” Pooja had misunderstood. “He’s dead!”

“I think she means it wouldn’t be fair to the man she would be marrying,” said Ryoo. “I think she’s right, too.” She then lifted out the huge bottle of blue milk and tried to carry it across the kitchen, making grunting noises as she did so.

Sola took it from her with a “Let me handle that, dear. But Padmé,” she paused to put the bottle away. “We’re going to have to tell the others about this.”

“I know.” Padmé pick out the spice bag and sat down with it and the spice bottle. “And I will do it myself. You don’t have to do it for me and I don’t want you to.” The contents of the bag fit snugly into the bottle; they’d bought just the right amount. “Is that everything?”

Three of the sacks were empty, but the fourth had a huge lump still. Pooja reached in and heaved out the roast. She was a comic sight holding it out in front of her, tottering on both her feet.

Again Sola retrieved her daughter’s heavy burden. “Careful with that. Starting tomorrow night we’ll be eating that for the rest of the week.”

“And it sure looks yummy!” said Ryoo. “Didn’t you say it looked yummy, Aunt Padmé?”

“Yes, I did.” She had when they’d bought it. When she’d been younger this particular kind of roast had been her favorite.

“And she’s absolutely right to do so,” said Sola, who was putting it in ice.

“Then maybe it’ll make you feel better tomorrow night,” suggested Pooja. “I hope it does.”

Ryoo and Sola looked less hopeful, but Padmé said, “I think by tomorrow night I will feel a little better. Maybe after I’ve told the others. But I’m not ready to yet,” she hastily added when she saw Ryoo turned towards the exit. “Maybe later this afternoon.”

“Of course,” said Sola, and then she pulled her younger sister into a tight hug. “Meanwhile, is there anything...”

“Probably not. I’m sorry.” But that wasn't quite true, because the pair of arms around her feeling soothing. Even if they would for the rest of her life never be the right ones.