She was removing her headphones for another random attempt at sleep when Anakin asked, “Ever intend to run for president?”
“What?” she stared at him, trying to decide whether or not he had asked what she thought he had asked.
“You heard me. Ever intend to run for president?”
“No. I’m not that much of a fool.”
She didn’t think he’d been expecting an answer that blunt, because he didn’t say anything immediately. But not only were they in a state of insomnia in mid-air somewhere above either Illinois, Indiana, or Ohio, but Padmé was in a constant state of impatient tiredness these days. Or maybe just disillusioned limbo. And while she would still insist she could handle the presidency, handling the election campaign was out of the question.
“I admit, I’m relieved,” he said at last. “That is, if you mean it, and you’re not just saying that because it’s late at night and we’re on an airplane and it’s been a long year.”
“I do mean it. If there’s one thing the past three years have convinced me of, it’s that I never want to go that deep into Washington. Bad enough that I’m living as far in as I am. And running as a woman? Have you paid any attention do what they’re doing to Hilary?”
“No,” said Anakin, in a tone of voice that made his opinion of the woman in question very clear.
“I don’t like her much either, but noone deserves what she’s going through. Noone deserves what any of them are going through. I’m not doing it, and I’m definitely not putting you and the children through it.”
“Padmé,” said Anakin, now sounding very concerned, “you’re not thinking of leaving the House?”
“Not if I’m reelected. I’ll stay there as long as people vote for me. Maybe I’ll even lose my head when I turn 30 and make a run for the Senate. But probably not.” Then she admitted, “If they ever vote me out, though, I think a small part of me will be secretly relieved.”
She looked down as she said this, at the daughter sleeping in her lap. “What kind of childhood are they going to have?” she wondered aloud.
“A better one than either of us had.” He had a point there. “Have you been looking at houses in Alexandria?”
“Yeah. I want one near Sola’s. I don’t know how she affords it, though. That city is expensive.” She looked up at the window. “Ice crystals,” she commented out of sheer tiredness.
They formed on plane windows, as anyone who flew as much as Padmé knew. It was strange, sometimes, to see them in the summer, but it was always freezing at this altitude.
She felt Leia shift in her lap as she woke up. This happening on airplanes had been a cause for panic a few months ago, and even now it made her feel vaguely anxious. But the little girl remained quiet, so Padmé remained calm.
“Lot of snow out there,” Anakin commented, not having noticed his daughter was awake.
“Snow,” Leia repeated.
It was a new word for her, and they both should have been excited about that. Anakin did a double take and looked at Padmé and asked, “Did she say that before? No, couldn’t have, she hasn’t seen snow since last March, has she?”
“Yes, and that’s not snow,” Padmé snapped, “it’s ice.”
“Padmé, she just learned a new word! How many does she know now? More than most infants her age, right?”
“That’s true,” Padmé agreed, regretting her irritable reaction. And it did look a lot like snow on the window, the patterns that the ice crystals formed in. Like magnified snowflakes. “When they’re older,” she mused, “we can point to these and explained that individual snowflakes look like this, except much, much smaller. And I think they obey more geometric rules.” She was too tired to be sure, though.
Leia was crawling in the general direction of the window. Did she realize that the “snow” was the stuff on the window? She seemed to like the look of it by the way she gazed and gazed. She even raised her hands a little, as if she wanted to touch.
“Will she remember this, do you think?” asked Anakin.
“We’ll reminder her. At least I’ll remind her if I remember this.” Because as beautiful a moment as it was, Padmé could not be entirely sure her brain was awake enough to manage anything.