For some reason it was when the weather got colder that they became a serious problem. Soon she found herself regularly bent over her worktable clutching at her head, sometimes scrambling for her medicine, but the pain was so bad she could never concentrate enough to take it. She would simply remain there in agony for a minute or so, it feeling like much, more longer, until they passed. Her family and all the local doctors had given her every medicine they could think of, from the oldest herbal concotions to the newest patented drugs, but noone had yet found one to suppress the headaches.
It still distressed Ryoo and Pooja when either of them found her like that. That day, they both did, and when she came to she found them on either side of her, still wearing their snowcoats, and Ryoo asked, in her most serious voice, “Are you all right, Aunt Padmé?”
“Fine,” she said quickly, because they looked so worried. She rubbed her nose-it always felt off these days-and took another few moments to get her bearings. It was early in the afternoon, and there was some light snow falling out the window. She had been working on a small square basket, the first of three she had to complete today, having finished a larger baby basket just after midmeal. When the headache had struck, she’d just been twisting the reeds for the rim.
“Are the babies all right too?” Ryoo and Pooja were always very concerned about the twins. While the rest of Padmé's family fretted about her raising a child without a husband, and worried about who the father was and where he was and what he might ultimately do with Padmé, who really couldn’t quite conceal a constantly anxious heart, the girls were just excited about having cousins.
“They’re fine.” Surely, Padmé thought, a few headaches wouldn’t do a thing to a pair of Force-sensitive babies, especially ones with a father as powerful as her young Jedi. “Now I really have to get back to these baskets.”
“Of course,” said Pooja cheerfully, but Ryoo looked a little sad.
“When I’m done I’ll come and make some snow figures with you, if you want,” Padmé offered. “I can even show you how to make tiny baskets for them.”
“No, we can’t,” Ryoo told her. “We have to be home by then.”
The console beeped. Padmé stood up to get it. But as she rose to her feet she felt the beginning of another headache creep up the back of her neck, and the next moment pain was crushing her skull and she hit the cold floor jacknifed and her hands shaking.
She was vaguely aware the entire time of Ryoo and Pooja trying to pull her up. They finally succeeded when the headache passed. “I’m never having babies,” Pooja declared. “Never ever.”
“It’ll be worth it,” Padmé replied. It had to be, when the physical problems would be nothing compared to the danger the children might put everyone in once they were born. Padmé would have to tell her family who the father was eventually, before the Jedi possibly showed up on their doorstep and asked for the children-if they did come, Padmé intended to refuse them-but she wasn’t looking forward to their reactions.
“I hope it is,” said Ryoo. “If Pooja won’t have babies, I’ll have them.”
The console was still beeping, so Padmé made her way over to it, hoping she didn’t get another headache if she had to talk to someone.
She didn’t. It turned out to be a no-response-expected message from a not immediately identifiable source.
Had she fully had her head together Padmé would have made some excuse and waited until the girls were gone to look, but her skull was still throbbing a little and she was anxious and tired, and so instead without thinking she just hit the display button. She only realized how enourmously stupid that had been of her when Anakin’s face appeared on the monitor. “Who’s that?” Ryoo and Pooja asked together.
“Next week,” Anakin told her, “at night, behind the lake.” Then the message turned off. Not even an apology for being away for so long he didn’t even know she was pregnant. How was she going to tell him? There was too large a part of Padmé that did not want to see him, that was too weary of this charade to continue, that had gotten too used to the idea of not having to worry about him and now just wanted to have her two children and raise them in peace. But she would never say that to him, she knew, when she loved him too much to ever turn her back.
“Wait a minute,” said Pooja, “is he the father?”
“Yes,” said Padmé, because she wasn’t about to tell her family any more outright lies.
“But he’s a Jedi!” said Ryoo. “Oh, you’re going to be in trouble, Padmé!”
“Why would she be in trouble?” Pooja asked. “He’s in big, big trouble, yes, but who’s she going to be in trouble with?”
“But won’t they kidnap the babies?”
“They will not,” Padmé cut her off very sharply. “They may ask for them, but I will say no and then they will go away and they will leave us alone. And that's if they find out.”
“You need to tell ma, and grandma and grandpa though,” said Pooja.
“I know,” said Padmé. “I’ll tell them.” Now, of course, she would have to tell them immediately, or the girls would.
“I’ll bring them here,” declared Pooja. “I’ll say to them you have something to tell them.”
“No, Pooja, wait!” Padmé called, but the girl was already running out, tying up the top of her coat even as she went.
Padmé wasn’t surprised when a moment later another headache struck.