She had a weird feeling, in that moment, that he too was staring out, trying to reach her, though there was no reason he should care so much. That even from this distance, he could feel her agony, and wish he could make it better.
A single tear fell before she turned away from the window, her decision made.
And just in time too, for the door opened and Motée came in. Without preamble Padmé immediately said, “I’m going to do it.”
“Good,” replied Motée. “I was willing to abide by your judgement, but the moment you showed that recording to me I have been convinced this is necessary. Trust me when I say there is no dealing with any pair of men who would cajole their daughters into betraying a handmaidens’ oath.”
The absoluteness of her words still caused Padmé pain, and she may have seen it when she next said, “I’ll do it if you want.”
“No,” said Padmé. “I am the senior handmaiden now. This task falls to me, as it does to live with what I’ve done afterwards.”
“True enough. Though of course, if you need my help in any way...”
“I’ll probably need you to cover for me the night I do it. I’m going to need to figure out just how I manage it before I know anything else.”
She noted how solemnly Motée was standing there, and said, “Sit down. You may be here awhile. I’m waiting for a message from Senator Okiltine through the Jedi Temple. I don’t know which night their messenger is arriving.”
“Which night?!” Motée too was indignant.
“We can’t hurry them,” said Padmé. “They do things their way and there’s not much we can do about that.”
“I wish there was,” sighed Motée and she sat down. Padmé glanced out the window again, but she could not continue to look; something inside her had now twisted itself beyond what she could bear. There was more than one useless wish that she could make about the Jedi.
Each remained lost in her own thoughts for the following few minutes. They came to stare at the console which would beep to announce that they had a visitor. “When he comes,” said Motée, “Do we go out there to greet him, or do we let him come in here? I would suggest he have to walk.”
“Waiting for him would be more discreet,” Padme replied, “but let us not be unkind for the sake of it, Motée. It may not even be his fault that we have to wait for him; he’s only a padawan.”
“You like him a lot, don’t you? I may have only met him once, but I’ve noticed.”
Padmé kept her eyes fixed on the console and willed herself not to blush. “He has been very kind to me.”
“Of course he’s been kind to you; he’s a Jedi. You have to remember that, Padmé. Especially with what you yourself have just committed to do.”
The console beeped. Padmé moved across the room, but did not leave it. “We wait,” she decided. “He probably won’t wait for us to come out anyway.”
Anakin Skywalker came in; he inclined his head towards them both, politely taking Padmé’s hand as he did so. She forced herself to meet his eyes, and could have sworn she saw more than normal warmth in them before he turned away to sit down near Motée, Padmé following.
“Senator Okiltine has moved from Naboo to the moon of Gall in the Zhar system. She isn’t sure if she’s going to stay there, but she is showing inclination to dismiss her Jedi guard, in which case she’ll probably call the two of you back to her.”
“Let me guess,” said Motée coldly. “You won’t leave her, because you think you know better.”
“Look, I know you’re all unhappy about this. Padmé’s told me that more than once. I myself would be willing to listen, but the Council isn’t. They never are.” It was clear from the way he spoke that he had his own issues with that body. “But in fact your Senator might soon get what she wants. There’s another situation rising right now...”
“Separatists?” Padmé asked him. Separatists who just might be connected to Osic Excenil and Aros Yelnina. At any rate, it wouldn’t surprise her if they were.
“I don’t know. Noone’s told me.” Now he sounded angry indeed. “I think so, though.”
“So you get to abandon us, instead of us leaving you,” Motée observed. “Next time the Chancellor tries to talk Senator Okiltine into Jedi protection, I doubt he’ll get very far, Master Jedi.”
“I’ll pass that notice on to the Council, for what it’s worth.”
“Yes, I know, you’re just the messenger. If you’ve nothing more to say I’ll be going.” She rose, then stood there, as if waiting for a response. But it seemed as if Anakin Skywalker indeed had nothing more to say, because he just sat there, until she turned and walked out muttering darkly to herself.
“Look,” Padmé started, “I’m sorry about Motée. I’m afraid I didn’t pick her for her cordiality to others-”
“Is there anything I can do for you, Padmé?”
That was the question he always asked just before leaving, every time he had come to speak to her so far. Except it was the first time he’d addressed her by only her first name.
“Yes,” she said out loud, though she hadn’t meant to, “but I don’t know if I should ask for it.”
“You can ask for anything from me, Padmé.” There was a weight to his words that stunned her.
She looked at him, the picture of Jedi calm still, except that there was something in eyes that she wouldn’t expect to find in a normal Jedi. And Padmé Naberrie came to the conclusion then that in a galaxy where the fathers of Senator’s own handmaidens used their own daughters as threats to her, where the Republic was threatening to fall apart and war was not an impossibility, and where she was going to do what she had agreed to earlier that evening, there wasn’t enough reason not to ask.
“Come to my bed?” She asked. “Just for the night? Or the Senator’s bed; she won’t mind, and we can avoid having to deal with my sister and her family, and I don’t want to go back there right now; I’ve been sleeping here lately and it’s been very lonely, and it’s been over a year since I slept with anyone, and Master Jedi, I know-”
“Call me Anakin,” he said, cutting her babbling off. He took a step towards her, then seemed to hesitate.
“You don’t have to, of course,” she said hastily. “The last thing I want to oblige you in this; that's why I didn’t want to ask.”
“Are you sure you want me? I’ve never done this.”
That was mildly surprising; he was younger than her, but not by too much, she thought. But it didn’t matter. “Yes. I’m sure.”
She wondered momentarily if he would kiss her, or refuse her that. But then he moved to stand over her, tenderly took her face into his hands, and did kiss her, if tentatively so. If nothing else, she realized, he would be generous. He would hold her afterwards, let her fall asleep feeling warm and protected, and while he might hesitate in staying after that, she suspected he would ultimately decide to do so.