A Queen's Work
By Izzy

When Padmé had agreed to have Anakin accompany her to her summer retreat on Varykino, she hadn’t really been expected to be left alone with him too much.

She hadn’t been surprised by Shmi’s visiting exactly as many times as she promised to. Had it been practical for her to come more often, she would have promised those visits as well. She and Anakin were the only ones who didn’t seem to expect Shmi to come more often; everyone else seemed to look only at Anakin’s young offworlder age. They forgot that for a year he’d been officially a ward of Naboo and pretty much looking after himself, and they didn’t realize that a boy who grew up in slavery learned to behave like an adult very early in his life. Shmi wanted to spend time with her son, and very much, but she didn’t have to worry about how he was doing when she didn’t.

She had maybe expected a few more visits from her handmaidens. Though ultimately she could guess why they stayed away; they spent so much time together that they had to get a little sick of each other. Besides, half of them were vacationing with their families, two of them off Naboo, so she couldn’t expect to see them.

The real disappointment was how little her family visited. She saw so little of them during the rest of the year and had given them a standing invitation to come whenever they wanted and stay as long as they wanted. But so far she’d only seen each of them for two days.

She told Anakin all of this when they were sitting on the shore of the lake, their legs in the water. “I think they should stay with us the whole summer,” he declared in response.

“Well, they couldn’t do that,” Padmé told him. “We’d go crazy if all of us were cooped up on this tiny island for that long.”

“But we’re not always on the island,” Anakin pointed out. “We go out into the woods a lot.”

“My parents don’t like the woods at all, and my sister Sola doesn’t really care for them either.”

“They can deal with it, can’t they?” He sounded more like he was six than twelv, and Padmé was found herself with a sudden awareness that Anakin made impatient statements like this a lot. Perhaps a little lesson was in order.

“How far can we really expect them to bend for us, Ani?" she began, making her voice as genlte as she could. "Not for the entire summer.”

“Well,” said Anakin stubbornly, “they still could be here a lot more.”

Though Padmé agreed with that statement by itself, she still said, “You’re not really considering it from their perspective, Ani. You need to do that more.”

“Sorry,” said Anakin, in an obvious attempt to end the conversation.

“Let me put it this way, Ani. Say you’re sitting in a room with two chairs.” This example had been from one of Padmé’s earliest lessons when she’d started studying for a political career. “Two people come in. One’s your best friend in the whole universe, who you’d do anything for. But the other’s recovering from a broken leg. They both want to sit down. What do you do? Well, obviously you let the man with the broken leg sit down. But what if the injury doesn’t look so bad? What do you do then? If-”

“Am I supposed to just stand up and let them both sit down?” Anakin interrupted her. So maybe he was a little more mature than the seven-year-olds for whom the lesson had been intended. None of them, not even Padmé, had made that offer.

But Padmé wouldn’t have been much of a diplomat if she hadn’t been able to think on her toes. “Maybe your friend doesn’t want you giving up your seat for him.”

“Oh, well if it’s a he it’d be Tariso, and he’d probably be happy to take it.”

“If it’s a she?” Padmé tried, wishing Anakin didn't take these things so literally.

He looked at her very seriously and said, “You wouldn’t, would you?”

Padmé felt an rush of emotion strong enough that she momentarily lost track of her options in what to say next. When it had passed, she remembered and continued, “And do you think I would want you to offer me the other chair over someone who was injured?”

“Well, no...”

“So there’s my point of view, that I should be the one standing. It’s one that makes sense to you if you consider it, right?”

“I guess so...”

“So, in the same way, it makes sense to my family that it would not be a good idea for them to stay here the entire summer.”

“Couldn’t they *still* come a little more often?”

Padmé was entirely sure if the lesson had taken or not. But she had had enough of teaching for that day. Besides, Anakin still had a point. “I think they could. But we’re doing okay on our own, right? Look over there.” She pointed to where a black waterbird has just landed on the lake, not far from where they were sitting. “That’s a foolrush. They have no fear of humans.”

“Wizard! Let’s go look closer!” Anakin made a attempt at pulling his leggings up before he jumped up and started wading through the water, but when they fell right back down Padmé doubted he cared. He hadn’t been swimming for too long, so she had to stay close to him. Good thing he was walking slow enough to give her time to roll her own leggings up carefully before plunging in after him.