Since Bail had been representing Knight Secura, he really hadn’t been in position to represent she who had made the Twi’lek her victim, and of course all thoughts had turned to Padmé. She was happy to help she who, whatever she’d done afterwards, had once protected Padmé and all but saved her husband’s life on Geonosis. She wasn’t sure what approach to take, however. Bail had been absorbed in trying to prove or at least convince people his client hadn’t done the actions she’d stood accused of, but in Barriss’ case there was no question of that. Trying to convince the Senate she was mentally ill might or might not save her life. They would never listen to any of the kind of protests Barriss would make that she’d done the right thing even though she’d killed multiple people and nearly let a fellow knight be executed. Their best hope was a plea bargain, which might not be impossible if they could convince Palpatine and Tarkin she had valuable information, but that depended on Barriss cooperating.
She thought Barriss had been informed she was coming before she walked into the small cell, but apparently not, because when she looked up with dark golden eyes(that hadn’t been their original color; Padmé remembered the original too well), she growled, “It’s you.”
For a moment Padmé wondered if this was at all a good idea, if it might not be better for Barriss to be represented by someone who hadn’t known her, who could come in with no prior feelings and dedicate themselves to a zealous defense without the fear of being hurt by their old friend. This, she knew, would hurt. A lot.
But Barriss might not respond at all to someone she didn’t know. So she crossed the cell and actually knelt to be eye-level with the former knight, who was sitting on the sleeping bunk. “Please,” she said. “I want to help you.”
Barriss studied her coolly. “You know,” she said, “I actually believe you when you say that. You’re deluding yourself, Senator Amidala, but at least you’re sincere. Same as you were.” Her voice had gone softer at the end; she even sounded a little sad. A vague pain panged in Padmé’s heart, a yearning for a time gone by when there had been no politics, no plotting, no war.
“You think I can’t help you.” That was clear enough.
“The Republic will insist on punishing those who did what had to be done,” Barriss shrugged. “Surely you’re not so naïve as to not realize this trial will be rigged. They probably didn’t tell you about their plans on the logistics of it, of course, but that should be obvious, especially after what they did with Aayla.”
Padmé beat down protests that surely the deaths Barriss had caused could hardly be called necessary; in fact, they were likely to turn out pointless, and especially how it wasn’t entirely appropriate to call out any mistreatment of Aayla Secura given it had all happened because of Barriss herself. She had to take her client's side no matter how hard it was. Instead she addressed only the second sentence. “I wouldn’t assume they’re really meeting together beforehand and agreeing to sentence you to death no matter what.”
“I wouldn’t assume they aren’t, and even if they’re not doing it so directly, you don’t think I really have a chance, do you?”
“Actually, I’m pretty sure you might,” said Padmé, using the same kind of forcefulness she did at the high point of a Senate speech. It mildly surprised her when it worked; Barriss’ expression changed and Padmé knew she was listening. At least until she continued. “Tarkin has been quick to realize you couldn’t have procured all that nanotechnology on your own, and Letta Turmond likely wasn’t your only contact on Coruscant’s underground.”
She got no further before she was slammed against the wall and Barriss’ fingers were around her neck, and for one terrifying moment she thought for sure she’d be dead before anyone could get into the cell. But the Mirialan did not then break her neck, only hissing, “You expect me to betray them?! To-”
Then Anakin was on her, the other guard who had been at the door with him close behind, both of them yanking her off. They couldn’t keep a grip on her; she pulled free and stood in a fighting stance, glaring at them all, indifferent to the blasters the two men trained on her which Padmé suspected might not be any good if Barriss didn't care to let them be. “Oh ho!” she cried at Padmé. “We’re being watched!”
“Video only,” she replied. “They’ve heard nothing.”
"I would have preferred to come in here with her,” Anakin added. “In fact, I think I might stay in here with her now.”
“Anakin, you can’t,” she told him sharply.
“Padmé, she could have killed you!”
“I would not have,” sighed Barriss. “What would the point of that been? Though I admit I thought about it when you suggested I might be willing to help the scum that run this war and sell out those that fight them just to save my own skin!”
“Say anything about that to anyone,” Padmé was quick to tell the two guards, “and you’re fired.” She was sure to look Anakin in the eyes for this last part to make it clear to him that married to him or not, she meant it.
“Oh you can dispense with the whole business of confidences,” said Barriss scornfully. “You two, if you are listening in, it tells me nothing I didn’t know about the Republic already, and I don’t care if you tell the whole galaxy everything I say. I’ll tell everyone the Republic tried to do this bargain with me. Well, unless you close the trial completely so I don’t get a chance before they shut me up permanently.”
“That I’ll fight,” Padmé was certain to tell her. If it would at any point be any use to tell Barriss her words wouldn’t have the impact on the populace she was hoping for, it wasn’t right then. “In fact, I’ll fight them closing the trial at all if you want, though I might not succeed at every session. There may be some where the information puts the lives of soldiers at stake. You know that.” She knew already what Barriss thought about them trying first Secura and then her by special tribunal, but though she didn’t like it herself, Padmé did understand why they were doing it.
“Yes, of course,” sneered Barriss. “Of course that is more important than the survival of any kind of freedom, any kind of decent government.”
“Should we go?” asked the second guard nervously. It sounded less like he cared about attorney-client confidence and more like he just didn’t want to listen.
“Yes,” said Padmé firmly before Anakin could protest. “Out, both of you. Remember what I said about firing.”
The guard was happy enough to obey. Anakin was not, but he too reluctantly slunk out.
When the door was closed, before Barriss could resume, she said, “So if you don’t want to plea-bargain, what do you want to do?”
“Nothing really,” was her reply. “I said everything I needed to say when I confessed at Aayla’s trial. By the way, did she take the Jedi back?”
“I believe so,” said Padmé. “But-”
“She would, wouldn’t she?” sighed Barriss. “She isn’t the sort to walk off even when anyone with sense would. They don’t deserve her. If you want me to say I’m sorry for exposing her to death, I’m willing to say that. That was the part I was sorriest for, really, though it seemed at the time it had to be done, to expose what the Order has become. Hopefully those Jedi who still have consciences will act now anyway. Though, of course, if Letta hadn’t tried to betray me...”
It was this or go for the insanity plea now. But Padmé now doubted the insanity plea had any chance of working. Barriss wasn’t raving as she spoke. She was calm, and she was very certain. More painful than anything else for Padmé was the knowledge beyond any doubt that her client really was absolutely convinced she’d done right, that the right thing do had really been to murder people and advocate overthrow of the government, and even send a good, noble Jedi Knight to her death just to make a point.
“You know,” she continued. “I have a question for you, now. How can you continue to support to Republic, Padmé?” Another pang; it had taken Padmé quite some time back on Naboo to convince Barriss to call her by her first name. “Even if you don’t have the stomach for rebellion, you ought to resign and not be a part of this. You’re too good a person to be involved in this.”
“I can’t turn my back,” said Padmé, thinking for a moment she shouldn’t sound as weak as she did, but no, if nothing else Barriss deserved honestly from her. “I do know the government of the Republic is going in the wrong direction, Barriss. But if all of us who object just leave, it’ll only make it easier for those trying to destroy everything good about the Republic to do so. I admit I don’t know much about the Jedi side of things, but consider, Barriss; the other Jedi will now having nothing do with you, because of Knight Secura if nothing else. What have you accomplished?”
“I exposed the order when they expelled Aayla, and better than I even thought I would. You can’t tell me that’s not nothing. And when the Senate murders me with an obviously unfair trial, I will have exposed them as well. It would’ve been better had they murdered Aayla, but I’ll do. Do what you want, Padmé. I even understand why you feel you have to help. I even honor you for it, I really do. But a good Jedi is always ready to die for what is right.”
Padmé, sick at heart, had nothing to say to that, really. Though still she had to protest, “I still wouldn’t assume the trial’s going to be unfair. At least I’ll do everything to make sure it isn’t.”
“I know you will,” said Barriss. “But I also know you won’t succeed; you can’t do the impossible. I’m sorry, Padmé.”
She must not cry, Padmé told herself. It was her role not to.
But it was especially hard when the shadow of Barriss’ face fell over her, and she looked up into those eyes still the wrong color.
“You poor creature,” she said. “I would hope you understand someday, but it would break your heart to see things degenerate to the point where you would. If you’re lucky you’ll be killed by then.”
“Please let me help you,” Padmé said, her voice impossibly tiny, and a tear did escape her then.
But Barriss only said again, “I’m sorry, Padmé.”
The door opened; she must have gotten close enough to make Anakin nervous. Padmé was about to yell at him to get out, but Barriss said, “You can go now. I have no more to say to you.”
“We aren’t done,” Padmé insisted.
“Come back tomorrow if you insist on it,” shrugged Barriss, and she turned around and went to sit down on her bunk. Anakin was taking his wife’s arm, saying “Come, Padmé.”
She turned back around before the cell door closed, her head slightly crooked, and a vivid memory came to Padmé then, of coming out of her bedroom early in the morning on Varykino, and seeing Barriss out by the water, rising from her morning meditation. For the hundredth time since Bail had asked her to step in, the memory of those days ran through her head, on the refugee ship and on the island, the talk they’d had and the tales they’d told, on the refugee ship when she’d slept safe in her protector’s arms and on the island when they’d lain so often on the grass cloud-gazing and star-gazing, and how young and good and happy they’d both been then. The thing she’d really wanted to do with Barriss was ask her how it had come to this. But she didn’t think her old friend would answer her.
“You don’t have anything more scheduled for today,” Anakin told her. “I thought you might need to rest after this. I mean, I know some people have contacted Motée; you can get their names from her to see if there’s anyone you absolutely must meet.”
“When we get home,” said Padmé, and let him clasp their hands together, though he got no closer here in front of the Senate guards. She would rest for a bit, she thought. Though she didn’t know how well that would help her recover. Especially when it was not just the devastation of losing her friend that had shaken her, but her late words, "it would break your heart to see things degenerate to the point where you would. If you’re lucky you’ll be killed by then," and, when she considered what she could not be blind to in the Senate, the fear that in this part of her beliefs, at least, Barriss Offee was absolutely right.