That Night
By Izzy

A year of constantly being in close promixity to her husband, returned in the head of a girl whose friendship with her son was starting to make Ben nervous despite their young age, going from wanting him, to wanting Ben, to wanting them both at the same time, and all the while she didn't dare have either. A year also of running from planet to planet in the Outer Rim, never able to stop moving, witness to death and destruction on a scale that she had lost all comprehension of. Looking back on the past year, Padmé wondered how she'd stayed sane.

At least Anakin had the decency to never seek her out or try to speak to her directly. Even Mara as herself didn't talk to her if she could help it.

Until the day they found the plans for the Death Star and sat poring over them and what to do about them for hours.

Then Mara kept insisting they should be worrying about other things. "One look at this thing's record," she argued, "and it's obvious it'll never be finished. They've been trying to build it for fifteen years, after all, and according to this, they've got as long a way to go as they did five years ago. In fact, they aren't much further along than they were ten years ago. They will fail here."

"I wouldn't be too sure of that," replied Leia. "If you look at the record for the past year, you'll see they're making a lot more progress now than they were. If they keep up this pace, they'll have it finished within the next five years."

It ended with all of them having talked themselves into exhaustion, until Luke suggested they sleep on it, and the others agreed. Her head spinning, Padmé lay herself down next to her two children and was probably the first of the group to fall asleep.

She had slept about three hours, however, when she felt herself being gently shaken out of a dream where she was being washed in a polluted ocean, the shores of which lay not far from where they were currently staying. She fought the urge to shake her hair out as she looked up into Mara's thankfully green eyes.

"Senator," she said, "we have to leave. Now."

"What? What do you mean?"

"Listen. I, well, we've been watching you all the past year, and we're not going to accomplish anything running around like this. There are too many of us together, plain and simple. We, that is, him and me, need to get back to Coruscant, and we need to take you with us for your knowledge of how things work there."

Padmé didn't know why they thought she had any special knowledge of Coruscant, but she had another point to argue first. "You shouldn't take me; you should take Luke. He's been having these dreams for nearly two years now. He must have some part to play."

She looked troubled for a moment, but then more resolute as she said, "We considered that. But we've decided we're taking only you. If you refuse to come, well, you'll just have to watch as we run off on our own."

Which Anakin knew perfectly well Padmé couldn't bear to do. "I could wake the others," she said.

"Would you really keep us from going? Would any of you physically restrain me? Every moment of every day from here on in? That's what it will take, Senator."

There was a flash in the girl's eyes when for just a second they turned blue. A second in which she saw Anakin reaching out to her again, letting go of all his anger and arrogance.

"Why do you really need me?" she asked, though she knew now that she would be going. "What do I need to tell you?"

"We need to be able to navigate the government buildings; the new ones. I've been gathering information on this as best I can. As you know, the Emperor doesn't make very many public appearances anymore. He meets with people in private, in certain rooms that he's had built-look, I know you've been in them."

"Only once or twice," Padmé insisted. "Never when I could help it."

"That's enough. You know something about his retreats, his can guide us through these places because you have experience navigating them. On our own, Anakin and I don't have a hope of getting near the man; he's lost most of his power, and, well, to be honest, I have hardly any when I'm not in the right environment. We need your help."

"And you're sure you don't need Luke's help?" she demanded again, though again she saw the flash of Anakin, desperate to talk to her himself, but knowing he had no right.

But then he appeared anyway, and with her eyes turned blue Mara begged, "Please, Padmé..."

"I still don't think this is a good idea at all," said Padmé, carefully pulling herself away from those eyes. "But if you're about to run off like this I can't let you go alone."

Mara had already prepared everything before waking Padmé up. She handed Padmé a pack of supplies to carry, then her blaster. Padmé barely had time to take one last glance as her children before Mara was pushing her out the door.