Her relief was short-lived enough, because whoever had won and whoever had lost, there was a certain gloom, at least in Padmé’s head, in a lame-duck session of Congress.
She got odd looks all the first week too. It seemed that in the last month, she had been carrying one or both of her children with her so often that noone could imagine her without them anymore. There had even been snide remarks about her using them as “props.” Well, what else could she do with them? She’d been trying to be with them while she could, and at the same time, she did want to get reelected. She got a few stray late congratulations as well, not a few of them spoken in a sour tone.
On the second Monday Padmé was well-rested for once. The day started out well, with a productive meeting with the incoming head of the Veterans Affairs Committee. She even met with another Democratic member of the committee, though he merely was giving her another one of those late congratulations. At least his was genuine.
The meeting of a subcommittee she was on that day was less cheering. Several of their Republican colleagues were still trying to “reach across the aisle,” but when two more were outgoing and had little more to lose in the first place, Padmé was careful in who she gave extended greetings to; she was too easy a target for more snide remarks.
By the time she had sat down, Padmé was also aware that they wouldn’t be getting much work done that day. She’d reached the point where she was able to smell everyone’s mood. Perhaps it was just as well. It would cause them to get more work done, after all, when the Democrats took control of Congress in January.
After the first hour or so Padmé started speaking only when she was spoken to; she was by then feeling much like an overly scolded child, even though noone had outright said anything to her. It was the way they looked at her, the way they had been looking at her ever since she had arrived in the House, but it had taken her a year and a half, and a pregnancy, to notice it. Not even just the Republicans, but some of the members of her own party as well. By the time she timidly excused herself after two hours to pump, she was wondering where her courage had gone. Shedding a few tears when she was alone, Padmé wondered if she was suffering from post partum depression. Pumping was not a pleasant exercise by itself, and she found it worrying that today she found it a welcome break.
She dismissed the possibility then as overreacting, but it would come back to her later in the day, when she found herself loudly snapping at a lobbyist who was foolish enough to offer her coffee. She startled the poor woman badly, and to make matters worse, she was overheard, and had a hard time ignoring the resulting stares. At least that was one lobbyist who didn’t get anywhere with her. Padmé was always a little wary of them, at least as a group, even if the individuals typically seemed to have all too good points.
Word passed around even quicker than she thought it would. There was a vote held in the evening, and all the eyes on her weren’t just her imagination.
It was a bill she voted against. Naturally it passed.
It was well into the night when she staggered into her apartment, one which would be too small for the twins once they started walking, to find both of them and her husband all asleep. Or at least they were when she initially peeked in. One trip to the kitchen later found both of the babies awake and wailing, and Anakin struggling to calm Leia, who had no doubt started in reaction to Luke. He had at least gotten the hang of holding her amazingly well, despite lacking half an arm.
Almost as a reflex action Padmé unbuttoned blouse and bra, for all the good it did; Luke quickly established that he was not hungry. She looked helplessly at Anakin, who looked equally helplessly at her.
They both felt marginally better when several moments later Leia quieted. “Quicker,” Anakin observed. “She must be getting used to her brother’s outbursts.”
“That’s good,” replied Padmé, “but what do we do about him?”
“Bring him over here,” said Anakin, “I’m starting to wonder about something.”
Padmé sat down next to him, and as she watched, Anakin carefully manipulated her hand, brushing it against Luke’s face. He stopped crying immediately, and Padmé could swear she saw a look of stunned surprise on the baby’s face. Then he closed his eyes and lay still in her arms.
“I thought so,” said Anakin. “I’d noticed that keeping her around him helps. His worst fits are always when they’re separated. I wonder what the doctor would say to this?”
“Never mind him. Go with what works. That’s the first thing you learn, working on the Hill.”
They placed the twins in the same crib, almost touching. She vaguely remembered something about that being not safe, but both were now miraculously silent.
They lay down themselves in almost the same positions as their children, eyes closing before Padmé had time to do any more than kick off her shoes. Her last thoughts were a vague hope that tomorrow might go better, followed by the rueful thought that it was unlikely; there was nothing for it but to wait the rest of the next two weeks out, then the next few months.