When she noted the message on the chip was intended for both her and her former handmaidens, she spent most of the reception trying to gather them all together. But first Sabé left early and had to be brought back, than Coté took Ardré off to settle some strange private matter between them and could not be found for hours, and by the time they returned, the two couples were ready to slip away to their bridal beds, and it was only Lané’s quickness that kept the brides present, while their grooms retired to wait for them.
When they were at last all together, and Dormé and Motée with them, Padmé led them away from the party, into a room with a projection console. “This is from Vatié,” she said as she inserted the chip, though she knew word had passed around. “She sent a separate message to her father as well.”
None of them had seen Vatié Bibble for over two years, since before the war had begun, and the reactions were visible, when the hologram of her appeared, to how very old and tired she looked.
“Well,” the hologram started, “hi, everyone. I’m afraid I don’t have much time, and I have a second message to record after this. Losté, Ené, I’m deeply sorry I can’t make it to the wedding. But then, maybe you don’t want me there anyway. I know you wouldn’t want Rabé there.” She said the name of the former member of their group with disgust. It bothered Padmé, the high demands the handmaidens made of themselves, and of each other. She herself had never thought any less of Rabé since she had let her go, nor of Vatié for choosing the husband who was her present over the Queen who was her past.
“I wish I could see you both today, though. You two must look absolutely beautiful. And you, Ené. I heard that you’re marrying your Melio, congratulations! And I’m sure Losté’s equally happy in her choice, even though I’ve never met him. I wish I could. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing all of you, all rejoicing today. I will be too, I promise you that. I understand if you don’t consider me one of you anymore, but to me, you’ll always be my sisters. I’m always thinking about you, wondering how you’re doing. I try to get whatever news I can. I heard Lané became governor of Theed at last, and Princess as well. Congratulations, Lané. I know Theed’s lucky to have you.”
She had been smiling broadly by this time in the recording, but the smile than faded. “I wish things were different. At first I thought they would be. I kept telling myself that surely Corellia would stay isolated from everything until the war ended. I think that was really too good to hope for, though. I wish this war would end, one way or another. I tried writing articles about it, but it’s hard to get them published. Even here on Corellia, you’re considered to be wrong if you don’t support the war. I hate to think what it must be like on the other planets in the Republic.”
Several of her listeners looked at each other in confusion, and Vatié continued, “Yes, I can hear you now, ‘Vatié Bibble, cowering on Corellia?’ But the truth is, I feel as if I’m frozen in place. I’m afraid if I go out there, I’m going to have to actively fight in this war, and that would feel like breaking my oath to you, Padmé. There’s a reason I refused to let you release me. I’ve managed to make peace with myself for the moment, but I’m constantly dreading my life changing, even a little bit.”
“I’m going to have to finish now, but let me say, good luck to all of you, and may we someday be able to meet again as friends.” She got slightly choked up before the hologram fizzled out.
As Padmé watched, Sabé leaned over to Saché, and asked something too soft for her to catch. But Coté did catch it, and soon the murmuring had passed down the line of handmaidens, and almost without thinking about it, the formed a tight clump and were deep in discussion.
Dormé and Motée sat with the Padmé, and looked at each other, and at her. At seeing her patient non-interfering vigil, they lapsed into silence. If the former Queen’s handmaidens wanted the opinion of any of the three of them, they would ask for it.
Finally Sabé turned towards Padmé, and said, “Can we send a message back? Our sister handmaiden wants to hear from us.”
What had been a nameless tension in Padmé’s breast dissolved, and she said, “I’ll give it to Anakin and see what he can do.”