Padmé was lying on a medical bed in the middle of an asteroid colony, still not quite believing she was going to live after all, while gazing at the read-outs above her. She was about to have twins, having only just found out there were two of them, and she wasn't sure what was to become of either herself or them, but she wasn't going back to Coruscant.
"Why not?" Bail Organa asked her challengingly.
"Well, for one thing, I can't take the children there. I'm sure someone's told you who their father is, and what that means. The Emperor will guess, if he doesn't already know I'm pregnant, and he won't let them live, or me."
"If you go without them, he may."
"That's what they want me to do." "They" meaning the two Jedi, of course. "To separate myself from my children, when they'll be in danger. I really think the Emperor knows. Anakin trusted him, even more than the rest of us. And you know there were rumours about me. The Jedi might not have heard them, but I saw you look at my wide skirts, just like everyone else in the Senate building." She tried to keep the accusation out of her voice; she really didn't want him angry at her.
"We can make it look like you miscarried," Bail started.
"You'll think he believe it? Bail, did they tell you he's a Sith Lord? If I went back, I wouldn't be able to deceive him."
"I expressed that concern to Master Yoda, since I have to go back. He told me Palpatine can't read thoughts; he can only sense emotions, and even then he can always make mistakes. He said there are ways to focus yourself on one emotion if we don't want him sensing another. We just have to both practice."
"No, we don't," said Padmé, "because I'm not going back. I'm not going to smile politely to the Emperor and all those fool Senators. I'm not going to pretend I'm still representing Naboo so he can get away with his power. I'm not going to hear the of the slaughter of the remaining Jedi and keep a straight face." Here the first of the tears began running down her cheeks.
"Padmé," here Bail sounded displeased, "do you think it will be any easier for me, or Mon Mothma, or any of us?"
"He didn't destroy your husband," Padmé insisted. Briefly she wondered if Bail knew the full truth of what had happened to Anakin, but he had to know enough. "He doesn't want to kill your children. He didn't directly use you to get into power. He didn't betray your trust to the full extent that he betrayed mine, when I looked up to him almost as a father. Did you know Master Yoda and Obi-Wan now suspect he rigged both the war and the original invasion of Naboo that got him elected? Let his own people-my people-suffer to further his plans. I won't do it. I'm not that strong."
"I understand. I apologize. But you will forgive me if I think you can do it, and will do it."
His tone angered her. "What makes you think I will, when I've just said I won't?" she demanded.
"Because as long as I've known you, you've never taken anything sitting down." When Padmé sighed in exasperation, he snatched up her hand and moved his face close to her. "Who was it that threw the Senate into uproar when her planet was invaded, and when they wouldn't help her, marched right back there, threw herself at the mercy of a supposedly hostile race, led what little forces she had in a fool's invasion, and won it? Who, when the Military Creation Act was first proposed, first spoke out against it, winning plenty of Senators over to our side? Who, when she was nearly killed by Seperatists, went straight to the Senate, heedless of the danger, still arguing against attacking them? Who, when Master Kenobi was captured on Geonosis, insisted on going to rescue them with only a Jedi padawan and a pair of droids? And who was it that first came to me expressing concerns about how powerful Palpatine was getting?"
"I was the first?" Padmé asked in shock. "But you said-"
"I gave the impression more people had come because I didn't want our position to appear weak to anyone. We knew even then how dangerous what we were doing was. But mere days ago, when Palpatine made himself Emperor to thunderous applause, who was it that even when admitting there was nothing we could do then, added that when there was time, we wouldn't be done yet? I'm sorry, but hearing you speak now, I'm wondering what became of Senator Padmé Amidala."
"She suffered one blow too many and broke," replied Padmé desolately. "Do you even know what really happened to Anakin?" He shook his head, and a moment later she did too. "I can't tell you. I'm not sure the Jedi wouldn't blow up at me for it, and anyway it's still too painful to talk about. But what you therefore don't know is that I was ready to run away, for his sake, and abandon you, and the Republic."
She would have expected Bail to get mad at that, but he seemed beyond that; without so much as blinking he countered, "Maybe so, but are you sure you would have stayed away?"
Padmé first thought was that he couldn't understand, because she couldn't bring herself to explain why she couldn't fight against the Emperor while still being with Anakin Skywalker. But his words made her think for the first time about what it would have been like, year after year, watching the rebels struggle, watching the galaxy suffer, knowing she had selfishly chosen not to help. She could not doubt that she would have desperately wanted to help.
Could she have stood to live with Anakin, year after year, when she had paid that price for him? Eventually she probably would have struggled to win him back over to her side. And if she failed at that, would she finally have left him, unable to bear it any longer? She truly didn't know.
"You're not, are you?" Bail said, seeing her face. "Padmé, I know what we're asking of you may be the most difficult thing you've ever done. But we need you. I need you. The people of this galaxy need you."
Just then the screen above them beeped, causing them both to look up. "What does it say?" Padmé asked. "I can't see it from this angle. But I don't feel..." Then, "...wait. Oh!"
"Just think about what I've said when you have time," Bail told her as the medics came up and pushed him away.