“Can’t we use the hammer?” Leia asked, looking longingly at the tiny hammer on the worktable.
“No, that would damage them. This is very fine work.”
Fine work it might be, but it was work that Padmé did so much that she could do it without thinking about it at all. Instead she watched as the twins labored, pressing the reeds into varying states of flatness and thinness. It didn’t take long, of course, before they noticed that their mother was placing in front of her example after example of identical perfectly thinned reed.
“How do you do that?” Leia finally asked her.
“By endless practice. Keep going.”
There was a knock on the door. “Aunt Padmé?” Ryoo’s voice called from outside. “Is it okay if I bring Wapor in to see your shop?”
“Sure, he can come in.” Wapor Kloiterrie was Ryoo’s new boyfriend, and there was something about their relationship that made Padmé think that it might lead to more than Ryoo’s past loves had, maybe even to marriage in a few years’ time.
As the door opened, the winter wind gusted in and chilled all three people inside, not to mention blew the reeds on top of each other, before Ryoo and Wapor hurried in and slammed the door shut behind them. They pulled back their hoods and Ryoo shook out her hair. “The wind’s getting a little fierce out there.”
“That’s true,” said Luke, who was trying to put the reeds back in order, more than he actually needed to, especially after Leia dove down and grabbed the two which had been blown off the table.
“So you make these?” Wapor asked, picking up one of the large baskets on the floor. It was half his height, and wide enough to hold both Luke and Leia comfortably at the same time. After a moment or so he had to put it back down.
“Each one of them,” said Leia. “She’s teaching us how to do them right now.” She slapped down a pressed reed; she had finished more of them than Luke had, which she was probably proud of. Even though Luke’s were much better done. In fact, almost all of Leia’s would be useless for making real baskets. Most of Luke’s wouldn’t be good for that either, but there were a few of them that Padmé would put aside for his later use.
Wapor turned his attention to the twins. They’d met before, of course, but they’d never really spent a large amount of time together. “So you two are going to follow in your mother’s footsteps, then?”
“Maybe,” said Leia.
“I don’t know,” said Luke.
They were neither of them content, Padmé knew. They had too much of their father in them. They dreamed of fame and glory. How could Padmé tell them that it was dangerous for them to attract too much notice in their lives, especially when they had a parent unaccounted for?
“Ooh, rebellious.” Wapor put the huge basket down and walked over to them. And suddenly, Padmé didn’t at all like the way he was looking at her children, the calculation with which he considered them-they were only eight years old! “What do you want to do with your lives, if you don’t spend them making these baskets?”
“Well I want to enter politics," said Leia. "But ma won’t let me.”
“Why not?” His pointed look asked the question as much of Padmé as he did of Leia.
“I don’t think it’s something someone her age should do,” said Padmé, her standard answer, “and it’s always dismayed me that those on Naboo that do go into politics are pressured to do so.”
“And what about you, Luke?” Wapor had turned his attention from Leia to her brother. “What do you want to do with your life?”
Luke shrugged. “He never answers that question,” Ryoo advised her boyfriend. He had some sort of ambition; that Padmé was certain of. He would never admit to what it was, though, always leaving everyone to wonder.
“You ought to really consider what your daughter wants, you know,” said Wapor to Padmé. “I think you really should let the girl go into politics.”
He tried to make it sound casual. But Padmé could tell he had some ulterior motive.
“I think I could do with a moment of cold air,” she commented. “Ryoo, could you come with me?”
Ryoo wasn’t fooled by her Aunt any more than her Aunt had been fooled by her boyfriend. But she said, “Sure, let’s go,” and went out with her.
Outside, Padmé turned to her niece and asked, “Is there anything about Wapor you haven’t told us about?”
Ryoo’s lips formed the words no. Then they stopped and she shook her head. Then she leaned in and whispered, “Well, I don’t anything for sure, but I think he’s involved in the resistance.”
Much as that had been the logical assumption, it was so extreme Padmé still had trouble believing it. “And you’re still with him?" she demanded. "Ryoo, you’re not considering marrying him, are you?”
“We haven’t been together long enough for that, but Aunt Padmé, I thought he might be in the resistance before we started dating! That’s how I first got interested in him.”
Fear gripped Padmé’s heart as she thought of the danger to the entire family these last words especially implied. “Ryoo, you’re not...yourself...”
“Not at the moment,” snapped Ryoo, angry now, “but if I did join the resistance, I would expect you to be proud of me.”
“Well, I would be," Padmé couldn't argue with that, "but all the same, I would be scared for you as well. And honestly, Ryoo, he’s in there-oh why did I leave him alone with them?” And she turned to run back in.
Ryoo caught her arm and stopped her. “He won’t say anything to them now,” she said. “They’re too young, and he knows that. But in a few years...and Aunt Padmé, have you ever considered how unfair it is for them that they have to hide what they are?”
“Of course I have.” Many, many times. “But that doesn’t make anything less dangerous for them.”
“Let them fight, Aunt Padmé," she pleaded. "Let them work for a galaxy where they don’t have to hide. At least let Wapor give them the option when they’re old enough. He won’t before then. If I ever thought he would, I’d keep him away from them.”
It was a powerful argument. But it was still one which Padmé’s every pore revolted against. But even so, she only said, “Watch him around them. Please.”
When they went back in, they found Wapor leaning over the table, now silent, as Luke showed him some flattened reeds. “Those take a long time, don’t they?” he was asking.
“Lots,” said Leia. “We have a lot more of them to do today.”
“That’s right,” said Padmé. She sat back down in her chair, and was next to Wapor. She gave him an encouraging smile, at least as much of one as she could muster.