She was as tense as a pressure chamber, and Rabé saw it immediately. “Can’t be like that, milady,” she said, taking a hold of Padmé and steering her into the soft stool by the mirror. Padmé noted that as she had been for the past week, Rabé was working alone. Everyone was busy during this time period. “Like this you won’t sleep at all, and you’re up early tomorrow.”
“I know,” Padmé replied. She let herself slouch as Rabé unpinned her hair and massaged her scalp. This decreased the tension, but generated heat through her skin, which seemed to flow down her back to between her legs. She reached for the cloth by the basin, already wetted, and started scrubbing the paint off her face.
But then Rabé commented, “I think Saché’s after Anakin,” and Padmé felt her blood run cold.
“What? How so?” she demanded.
“What’s with you?” asked Rabé, surprised. “You know perfectly well he’s not a boy anymore. He’s seventeen. Well over half of the galaxy would view him as an adult now.”
“He’s not old enough for her,” Padmé insisted. “In a few more years, maybe it wouldn’t matter. But Saché has to remember that he’s not from Naboo. He’s only newly of age!”
“He’s been of age for over a year by our standards for offworlders. Anyway, I don’t think you need worry. There’s only one person on this planet Anakin wants anyway.”
“Who?” demanded Padmé, dropping the washcloth, all her alarms going off.
“Oh,” Rabé said lightly, dropping Padmé’s unbound hair over the Queen’s shoulder and onto her lap, “I think he should be allowed his secrets, don’t you?” Snap, snap, snap, she flicked the clasps on Padmé’s robes.
Padmé was not amused. “Rabé, I’m worried. He’s got his career to think about. He’s told me many times he wants to travel to Coruscant, maybe as the chief of security for the next Senator, and to give that up for a relationship at his age-he’d be young for that even if he were a native Naboo, and as an offworlder...”
“Maybe as chief of security for a Senator that will in all likelihood be you?”
What was Rabé getting at? “Well, that would be an easy way for him to get there. Okay, so I like keeping an eye on him. I think I have that right. He’s my friend, he’s been one of the best I have, and I think I should be concerned if he’s running off with someone when he might not have thought through what he really wants!” Part of her protest was muffled as Rabé pulled the overrobe over her head.
She heard the wumphing of cloth as Rabé folded the robe up, before the handmaiden said, “Padmé, are you sure this is just protectiveness on your part, or are you jealous?”
“What?!” Padmé leapt to her feet, her underrobes falling off her shoulders. “That’s absurd!”
Rabé strolled over to the closet to put the overrobe away. “Why?”
“Rabé, I’m five years older than him! More, if you consider our biologies! Have you been listening to what I’ve been saying-”
“Yes, and it sounds like your own insecurities, and Saché being a year closer to Anakin than you are, coming out.” Rabé came back over, and calmly began untying the underrobe. Two pulls of the strings and it fell to the floor; it had been getting loose again.
“Anyway, I’m Queen. I can’t pursue a relationship with him. And if I become Senator...”
“As Senator you could get away with it, and you know that.”
“It still wouldn’t be a good idea.”
Rabé ignored her. She was stripped down to her smallclothes now, and the handmaiden’s task was pretty much done. She reached down and handed Padmé her washcloth. “You haven’t gotten it all off,” she said, and left.
Padmé sat back down in front of the mirror and scrubbed her face furiously. When her make-up was gone, she felt tenser than ever.
The idea of her being in love with Anakin! Of course she loved him, but not in that way. He was just a boy.
An image of him flashed in her head. Young face, though his features were matured now. Long, golden curls. Though really, she supposed he couldn’t quite look like a boy, because his eyes were different. They had been even when she’d first met him. It was only to be expected, growing up as a slave. Still, eight years of freedom had been good to him. He’d always been as swift and energetic as a Jedi, but his energy was more focused now, more confident. Aggressive, maybe. There were sometimes sparks in his eyes that alarmed her.
Well, alarmed and excited her, really. Her thoughts paused there. That was odd.
How did they excite her? It suddenly seemed important that she know. She found herself thinking further of those eyes, their brightness, their sharpness-which helped recommend him as what would likely be her future captain of security. They grew very vibrant when he was angry; she remembered holding them in hers while discussing the rescuing of his mother when he was barely ten, and how she had known just by looking in them when his anger had passed.
She wondered if they would look the same in other kinds of passion. Would they shine in that way when pulling you close, sharp and hard in his movements, and would they remain ever open-she thought he didn't even blink as much as other people-until the very last possible moment before he had crushed your mouth against his-
“Stop!” she yelled out loud to herself. But it was too late to stop. She felt as if a jar was bursting open in her head, its illicit contents spilling out. Thoughts of what kissing him would be like, what words he might whisper in her ears, how it would feel to have him on top of her, inside her-
Padmé tore at her smallclothes, vehemently wishing she hadn’t worn the stays that day. Really, she had long since identified much of her tension as sexual tension, even if she hadn’t identified any general source for it, and she’d known from the beginning of the day that she’d probably end it masturbating. What had she been thinking, putting on such tight underdress?
She finally lay back naked on her bed, not yet bothering with a nightgown. Her hands groped at her body, clutching at her breasts, running down her sides, tracing sensitive spots on her hips that made her twitch. Anakin’s hands would be rough, nothing like hers. She licked her lips, felt them itch for kisses, for Anakin’s hot mouth and tongue.
By the time she brought her hands down, the slightest touch to her clit already had her bucking and moaning. Instinctively she twisted her head and pressed her mouth down into the pillow to muffle the sound. She kept it fixed there as she worked her hands on her burning flesh. She pressed down hard on her clit and easily slid two fingers inside herself, imagining it was Anakin, and she could even hear his gasps in her head. She practically ground her mouth into the pillow as she all but shrieked, mounds of softness that she licked as she again thought of kisses. She imagined his mouth traveling down then, joining his phantom hands on her body, which twisted and writhed as she rubbed and thrust her fingers in and out of herself, spreading her legs wider than she might for a real man, wanting to feel Anakin between them, taking her.
She could even imagine his eyes now, raking her skin; just the thought nearly made her twitch again. “Yes, Ani, see me now.” She mouthed the words, though no sound came out.
Harder and harder she pressed her hands, her hard breathing sounding in her ears. Her fantasies wavered as she lost the ability to think anything besides ohpleasemore, but even as the pleasure took her and she had to clench her teeth to keep herself from shouting her orgasm, his name echoed in her head, like the ringing of a bell.
She lay there in a physical and emotional daze, as the full extent of what she wanted sunk in. She shivered with the night’s chill, then got up to wash her hands and dress for sleep.
The first thing she decided was that she could not act on these feelings, at least until Anakin did. To make an advance on him after they’d been on their current positions was unacceptable. He was a confident young man, secure in his friendship of her, and if he really wanted her, he would initiate a courtship, or very possibly just grab her and kiss her hard, when he was ready. She thought he did; she could see herself failing to realize that Anakin was in love if it was with her, and Rabé keeping secret that it was her Anakin wanted, but she could not see herself missing the signs or Rabé refusing to reveal a name in any other case.
Once he made the first move, in their likely positions to be, as Rabé said, it wasn't completely wrong that she might very well accept him, though obviously she had to consider things first, try to figure out his exact feelings, and do a thorough analysis of her own. That was something to worry about when the time came.
She chose one of her silk nightgowns. The fabric felt good; when she slid under the covers it slid deliciously on her sensitized skin.
She fell asleep quickly, and slept soundly until the alarm early the next morning.