On the datapad was the latest news, about what was becoming known as the Ghorman Massacre. “Peaceful protestors brutally murdered, and it’s not the first case of it either. This is what you get, Anakin, when one person gets too much power. Order, maybe, but at a price that makes it unbearable.”
“Now wait a minute,” said Anakin, who has finished reading. “You can’t automatically blame this on the Emperor. It was Tarkin who landed the ship; he could very well have acted on his own. Anyone who knows anything about him...”
“Knows his connections to Palpatine, and that his career depends on the Emperor’s goodwill,” Padmé interrupted. “And while that news brief doesn’t mention it, he’s just been promoted to Admiral. One way or another, the Emperor approved of this-”
“You’re leaping to conclusions, Padmé. You’ve been doing so ever since the Queen recalled you-”
“Do you really think that was just because I was pregnant-”
“You said yourself that even our being married wasn’t approved behavior-”
“And speaking of the children, I don’t know if any of the three of you are safe here at all!”
“What?” They had been talking over each other, but this stopped him in his tracks. “How? Why not the four of us? You’re the one who was causing him such trouble when you were recalled.”
“I’ve been doing a little more reading.” She took the datapad and entered several commands. “Gathering information. It seems there have been a lot of non-Jedi Force-sensitives who have been arrested on the most absurd charges and then never heard from again, or just plain disappearing. It always concerned me, you see, that even the children were killed in the Jedi Temple, when even if you believe that ridiculous story about some sort of rebellion or conspiracy, there’s no way all of them could have been involved in it-”
“The Jedi themselves killed them, remember? So they wouldn’t give away the Order’s secrets!”
“Or so the Emperor’s propaganda claims. I refuse to believe that, and even if I did, then why did they let Initiates leave for years? In fact, they turned them out sometimes when they turned thirteen. Why would they ever let them leave alive, and very possibly bitter?”
“Well,” Anakin was floundering now, “maybe they panicked, because of the situation.”
“You know perfectly well Jedi don’t panic, and anyway,” Padmé continued, “I know the troops were the ones killing the children, or at least they killed one of them, because when I had these concerns, I went and talked to Bail, who was reported to have stopped at the Jedi Temple the night of the massacre, and he told me he saw them shoot a boy no older than ten right in front of him. Not to mention their behavior towards Force-sensitives here,” she gestured to the datapad, “speaks for itself. My high profile’s probably protected us so far, but it’s really only a matter of time before a bunch of troopers show up on our doorstep to arrest us like most of the Emperor’s enemies were arrested, and to slaughter probably all three of Luke, Leia, and Shmi as soon as we’ve been taken out of their sight.”
“You really believe that?” Anakin asked softly.
“It’s not a chance I want to take anymore.”
“Then what do we do?” he asked. “Run? Where do we run?”
Now came the big part; the demand she was going to make, even though she did speak it as a demand: “I talked with Bail about that. He guessed why I was so worried. He’s helped get Senators and other refugees to safety. He can help the five of us.”
Anakin did look hesitant. Padmé began wondering what she’d do if he refused. Could she take their children and run on her own, making the fate she’d then leave him and probably his mother to more likely by her flight? She couldn’t just stay here on Naboo and wait. She would not put her children to that kind of risk.
“If you think we have to...” he finally started.
“We have to,” she said firmly.
“Okay, then.” He wiped his hands on a rag and stood up. “We should probably tell my mom immediately.”
“Are we joining the rebels?” He asked abruptly a moment later.
Padmé gestured to the datapad again. “I don’t know about you, but after reading about that, I’m doing whatever I can to put an end to this.”
We’re coming to a head, she realized. And she was glad for it. Things hadn’t been right between them ever since the rise of the Empire had exposed their very different political philosophies, now that he was no long willing to defer to her as the Senator. They would probably never agree on what the ideal government was, but if they could agree that the Empire had to be stopped, that would be enough.
Then he took her hand and said, “I’m with you then. Just like old times.”
Padmé smiled and nodded, and left unsaid that things would never be like old times for either of them again.