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TITLE - By Spangled Starlight Sheen
AUTHOR - Sache8
RATING - Teen
GENRE - Romance, Adventure, Drama.
DISCLAIMER - For fun. Really, at this point, I do this to finish what I started. But it's still not mine.

SUMMARY - In the advent of a new Empire, war and politics rock Naboo and threaten to sever time-tested bonds of tradition and family. Princess Sabé Naberrie struggles to hold her family together while burdened with a secret of her own.


(Warning: Extreme Romance ahead)

Chapter Nine - Polis Massa

The day continued to be a poor one for Richard. After his fight with Sabé, he fought with his naysayers on the Council. Then he fought with the Senate on the Klion matter. Then he fought with his brother-in-law. Then he fought with his wife.

When he finally fell into an uneasy sleep— alone— he was most unhappy to be awoken what seemed a few short hours later.

"Your pardon, sire. The Chan— the former Chancellor is calling."

"It's nice to know that we're always going to be high on his priority list," Richard muttered as he crawled out of bed.

He made himself presentable and then hastened to his office, where, with a sickness in the pit of his stomach, he gathered his resolve and stepped onto the holo pad.

"King Richard."

Richard swallowed. The sight of the old man's face, shriveled and ghastly, complimented the nausea he was feeling. "Emperor Palpatine," he choked out. It was so hard not to wince.

Palpatine chuckled with smug glee. "Good, good," he crowed. "I can see that you will not be one in need of remedial education, Richard."

Richard focused on a place on the wall slightly beyond the shimmering image of the cowering emperor. "To what do I owe the honor?" he asked.

"Formal reorganization will take place forthwith. I would not trouble you in the middle of the night for such a trifle. But I am concerned about the whereabouts of Senator Amidala."

"My sister?" Richard asked, now looking the old man fully in the eye again. "What about her?"

"She has disappeared and her husband is most anxious about her well-being."

Richard's eyes widened. "Husband?"

"I believe you are both acquainted. Former Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker. The only one loyal among all of the Jedi and my new right hand for justice."

So this day was not finished with its surprises. So Padmé had been married all along. She had not shamed the Naberrie name. He closed his eyes briefly. When he opened them he said, as calmly as possible, "I was unaware they had been wed. And I have not heard from Padmé. I do not know where she is."

Palpatine studied him for a very long time. "I believe you are telling the truth, which is fortunate for you, Your Majesty. If you discover her fate, you will report to me immediately. That is a command from your emperor."

"Yes," Richard said, and almost pried his teeth apart to add, "my lord."

The transmission ended without so much as a good evening. Richard let out a long breath of relief and stepped away.

His mind was too full to go back to sleep. He left the offices and began wandering the gallery. The vaulted marble and glass corridors had done much to sooth his mind in the past, but he suspected such would not be the case this evening. At least he didn't have to hide anymore.

He was passing by the press lobby when he noticed a solitary figure emerging from the quiet of the broadcast booth. "Lady Nashira," he said, surprised. "I would not have expected to find you here at this late hour."

She gave a polite curtsey. "Your Majesty. Forgive me, I was taking the liberty of trying to reach my family. My personal communications console lacked the necessary power."

"Of course. Were you successful?"

"No, my lord.

"You don't seem overly concerned."

"I had hoped to reach them, but if my people do not want to be found, they will break their secrecy for no one, least of all a rogue element such as myself. I am sure they are safe. It is me who is in need of comfort."

"I presume that your people would not approve of what has happened in the galaxy today."

"Certainly not, my lord, though we held lofty, disapproving opinions toward the Republic as well."

He smiled. "I see. Anarchists?"

"Pacifists. Elitists. Idealists."

"That combination is too fragile for reality."

"Only if we continue to let it be so."

Richard did not have the energy to carry on the debate, so he let the matter drop. The gallery came to an end at the head of the palace's central grand staircase, which descended to their left. Straight ahead was an interior balcony that had a broad view over the western end of the building and the levels below. Richard leaned against the balcony railing and put his head in his hands, sighing deeply.

Lady Nashira came to stand beside him, a quiet shadow in his peripheral vision. She reached out and put a comforting hand on his forearm. Gently, she tugged his hand away and clasped it. "Do not distress yourself overmuch, my lord. The decisions you have made have been the best for your people. Let no one tell you otherwise."

He turned his head to look at her, grateful. They seemed to be the only encouragement of any kind he had received in the past few days. Looking back, he realized that Lady Nashira was about the only person he couldn't count as a detractor in the past few months.

"You do not have to bear this all pressure alone, Richard. There are many here to help you." She looked down briefly, with a quiet, daring resolve and then fixed him boldly with her eyes. "And you don't have to be lonely. I can help you there too."

She leaned up slightly and kissed him softly on the lips. Richard was only partly surprised. He had received her insinuation with perfect clarity, but he would have supposed she would wait to see his reaction before going any further. His response was reflexive, encouraging. He even turned his body slightly toward and took a small step closer to her. His hands were halfway up to take her by the arms when he closed his eyes and pulled shamefully away.

He turned away from her and focused on the lights of the city through the window.

"I have offended you?" She did not seem overly concerned by his rejection.

"Yes."

"Your relationship with the queen has been... strained, of late. And I have always found you to my taste. A ruler with such pressures as yourself is in need of physical release, so I thought—"

"Maybe such conduct is considered acceptable among the Fallanassi," Richard said. "But among the Naboo, monogamy is a cherished tradition. I have broken faith with my people today. Now, thanks to you, I've now broken faith with my family as well."

"As you say, I am not Naboo."

"But you are a guest of this court, and I would remind you to take remembrance of that. Good evening, madam. Please do not solicit my company again."

Now she did seem affronted, but she held it all behind a composed mask and drew herself up straight. "As you wish, Your Majesty."

Richard stood there a while longer after she had gone. It was undoubtedly the worst day of his life.

In the morning, they told him that Sabé had disappeared.




Sabé had never really learned how to pilot. If she had tried to sneak away from Naboo without telling anyone, she probably would have killed herself. So despite Ben's cautionary admonishment, she was obliged to request help from at least one person. It had been several years since she had last seen Hugh Panaka, but she would always trust him with her life, or anyone else's whom she loved.

"Thank you so much for helping me, Captain," she said, when they were finally on their way. Getting away from Naboo without raising a fuss had presented something of an obstacle, and Sabé had been forced to use her security clearance on the pretense that she was hastening back to Coruscant on Richard's behalf.

"Anything for the Senator," he replied. He checked over some of his readings. "There's a major shipping hub on Chandra IV we can use to get another ship, one that no one will know how to trace."

"Of course." Sabé hated the idea of delaying their journey any further, but she conceded the wisdom of this suggestion. "And Chandra IV is closer to Naboo than not. No one will suppose Polis Massa as our destination."

"Just so, Your Highness," he said with an approving smile.

She couldn't help but return the gesture. "Between the tutelage of Jedi Masters and Hugh Panaka, I think I've learned a thing or two."

They spent the journey between long stretches of anxious silence and spurts of small talk to fill the void. Sabé questioned him about his retirement and his grandchildren, and he asked her about life away from Naboo, about her famous mission to Jenispra three years prior, and about Padmé's welfare. He did not ask how she had come by the information that had prompted their midnight jaunt offworld.

The switch on Chandra IV went smoothly. They acquired a small, sturdy, and—most importantly— unregistered personal transport ship and headed off for Polis Massa. Sabé had never been to that system before. She found it a sad sight— all those asteroids and so little to tell that a beautiful civilization had once existed here.

"Did your contact say where to go? There are many excavation sites."

"Not specifically. Start with the main base. We'll find him." As Panaka began steering the ship toward her instructed destination, she added, more quietly, "No doubt he'll find me first."




Obi-Wan had not slept in days. He was haggard and bedraggled had been surviving on adrenaline and long years of exploiting the Force. This would probably not last much longer, but he was afraid to sleep. He was afraid of his dreams. It was an irrational thought, for how could any nightmare possibly be as harrowing as the one he was living now?

Anakin had slaughtered the Jedi. Anakin had surrendered to the Dark Side. The Republic was in shambles. Everything Obi-Wan had ever believed, everything he had ever stood for, fought for, bled for, was gone, trampled into the dust like refuse.

He had failed. He had been given charge of shaping the man that Anakin Skywalker would become. Where had he gone wrong? Should he have been harder, or easier? Should he have just ignored Qui-Gon and heeded Master Yoda all along? Anakin had been too dangerous to train. They had been right since the beginning.

His nightmares would be full of fire.

To cling to his sanity, he clung to small points of hope, small points of control. Padmé was still alive, and if the Force looked kindly on him, Sabé was on her way.

The former hope was the most fragile. Padmé breathed, but she did not awaken, and the medical experts on Polis Massa had no explanation. But they had not witnessed Anakin try to smother her in a fit of mad rage. There was more to the Force than just the effect on the body. Obi-Wan could only suppose that something had affected her mind. A darkness he did not know how to counter. He wished desperately that one of the great healers at the temple were with him now, to help him find answers. But they were probably all dead too.

He did his best. He spent long hours with Padmé, searching the unfathomable void inside of her, trying to find the door, praying she would forgive him if ever she woke. But the only thing he knew for certain was that the mysterious threads that bound spirit to body were dangerously thin, and the two small souls still waiting for their chance at life were the only things that were holding her together.

He knew immediately when Sabé entered the system. Her presence pricked the edges of his consciousness, the only warm color he had felt there in a week.

"I'll be back," he assured Padmé, patting her warm but immobile hand and hurrying from the room.

He ran as fast as he could to the base's control station. "Chief Wannauk, let that vessel pass," he said. The control team was already halfway through their protocols for unexpected arrivals. "It's the Senator's sister. Tell them to land in the private bays."

"Yes, Master Kenobi."

From the edge of the hanger, he watched the small vessel land, and threw any pretense of patience out the window. He was too tired to be patient. Sabé was here. Maybe she could help. But mostly, she was here.

The gangplank came to rest on the hangar floor and Sabé descended, looking around uncertainly. She was dressed in a plan jumpsuit. Her hair was pulled back, but otherwise loose and uncharacteristically unkempt, as if she had left Naboo with almost no preparation. He stepped forward and the motion caught her eye. She saw him, and relief broke out on her face.

He ran to her. He did not care at all who was watching. Even Master Yoda could be watching for all he knew, but it did not matter anymore.

"Ben," she said, her voice breaking. Desperate joy and grief and release were all mingled into the appellation. "You're alive!"

He pulled her tightly close and crushed his lips into hers.




In that moment, Sabé fully knew how much things had changed, how some compunctions had become utterly unimportant. It was almost painful, how hard he kissed her, but she felt much the same, as though some sort of wall needed to be broken down to allow them to be even closer.

"I love you," he whispered hoarsely when he finally pulled away, resting his forehead on hers.

He looked even older than he had when he'd left Coruscant. There were gray hairs in his beard. What had happened to him?

"Are you all right?" she asked, reaching up to cradle his face with her hands.

He gave a harsh laugh. "No. Nothing is all right." He took her head and pulled her into his chest. "But now I am far better than I was before."

She wanted to collapse there, to let him hold her forever, but she was mindful of the many eyes all around. She breathed his scent deeply, and then forced herself to pull away. Looking over her shoulder, she noted Panaka, standing at the bottom of the gangplank, looking surprised and uncomfortable. He caught her eye and looked hastily away.

"Where is Padmé?" she asked, turning back to Ben.

"This way," he said, reaching down to take her hand. "I'll take you to her."

She found her sister lying in a cold, sterile room, surrounded by monitors and med droids. "Oh, Padmé," Sabé whispered. "What happened?"

"Anakin happened," Ben replied simply. "I will tell you everything, when I am able."

A steady tapping sound came towards them from the other end of the room. Sabé turned and gave a start of surprise. "Master Yoda."

"Glad I am to find you free from harm in this place, Princess." He rested his hands on top of his walking stick and regarded her with the shrewd, fond wisdom common to all those who had seen their share of years in the galaxy. "Though how you found us is a matter of some curiosity." Here he turned a gaze of mild chastisement to Ben, who merely gripped Sabé's had more firmly.

Sabé turned to Yoda's companion. "Senator Organa. Polis Massa is full of surprises."

"Indeed it is, Princess."

"Were you in attendance when—" she broke off. It was still too difficult to acknowledge Palpatine's betrayal in words.

Bail gave a solemn acknowledgement. "We both were," he said, looking at Padmé. "It was not a moment I will soon forget."

"What is wrong with her?" Sabé asked quietly.

"There is something broken in her mind," Ben said. "I cannot explain it, except that I think her brush with the Dark Side inside of Anakin has shattered the integrity of her life force."

"Will she die?" Sabé stepped forward and put her hand on the glass.

His silence was all the answer she needed, and a sob choked up inside her throat. She clenched her fingers against the pane.

Ben put a hand on her shoulder. "I will continue to try and heal her, but the prospect is not good. I am so sorry, Sabé."

Sabé struggled a moment until she regained a bit of composure. "What about the baby?"

"They're both fine. It won't be long now."

She turned to him, eyes wide. "They?"

For the first time, he smiled. "Twins."

The moment of joy was water in a desert, miraculous. "Twins," she echoed. "That is precious news."

"You know, that glass is only part of the facility's design," Bail advised. "You are not beholden to stay behind it."

"Visit your sister, you may, Princess," said Yoda gently. "Good it would be for her, I think."

Ben let go of her hand and reached up to squeeze her shoulder. "Go to her, Sabé. I will wait here."

An hour later, after Sabé had been sterilized to the medical droids' satisfaction, she slipped quietly in to visit her sister. She pulled up a stool to the side of the bed and took her seat.

"A lot has happened, hasn't it?" she said, brushing one stray strand of hair away from Padmé's forehead. "More than I can really understand. Ben told me everything about Palpatine. How does a statesmen from Naboo become a Sith Lord anyway?" She took Padmé's hand. "No more implausible than a sweet, talented boy from a poor desert planet, I suppose. But don't even get me started on what Richard has done."

A couple of tears fell from Sabé's eyes. She beat them stubbornly away with her other hand.

"Yvenne's going to have her baby any day now, too, you know. I'll be an aunt three times in one week, more than likely. Oh, and guess what? Claria has a new daughter. Sort of. Maybe I shouldn't tell you that story either, though. It's more sad than anything else. Like we need that.

"I talked to Senator Organa while I was washing up. I mentioned what you told me about your little group within the Senate. He admitted to it, of course. It's pretty brave what he's done in the middle of all of this, trying to make a refuge for the Jedi, already thinking ahead on how to thwart Palpatine. I hope that he doesn't suffer for it later. But I think you and I both know that it's a price some of us are going to have to be willing to pay."

Sabé smiled and squeezed Padmé's hand. "Oh, I can hear anyway. 'Some of 'us' you say?' Yes, Padmé, I will be a rebel. Just like my big sister. I will pick up my blaster and fight when I have to."

She turned sober. "The Jedi are worried about these babies, did you know? Your secret's out. They know about Anakin. I guess their concern is that the children will inherit his talent. Palpatine could use them as weapons against us. Or we could use them as weapons against him. Can you believe it? They're just babies and already these people are putting all kinds of burdens on their shoulders. Well, don't you worry. If you don't wake up, I will make sure they are taken care of, Padmé, I promise. They won't be Anakin, or Helaine, or all the other children, ripped from their families. Maybe they are Jedi prodigies or something, but they're Naberrie too."

With her free hand, Sabé reached out and stroked Padmé's hair again comfortingly. Her skin was warm, and she looked more peaceful, somehow.

Sabé kept talking to Padmé until she too fell asleep, her head resting on the bed by her sister's side.




Richard took breakfast alone that morning. He was little able to do anything except sip distractedly on a tall glass of plomb juice, unable to escape from the fact that a few hours ago he had almost turned his back on his marriage.

But he could hardly blame that on a moment. His offenses had been building on that score for some time. Everything in his life was wrong right now. Maybe he could take the trouble to start making something right. He just had to work up the nerve.

Barris entered the room with nary a sound.

"Any news on my sisters?" Richard asked.

"No, sire. We traced Princess Vána's ship to Chandra IV, but no further."

Richard let out a sigh. "Good." He was worried, but he did not want to have to try to lie to a Sith Lord. He was almost positive that Sabé's disappearance had something to do with Padmé's. The longer they both remained hidden, the better.

He hadn't told anyone about Padmé's marriage. He suspected that was a fact better left in secrecy as well.

After breakfast, he suffered an update from his press secretary. "As we might have expected, sire, the public reaction to the new restrictions you've imposed have been diverse and polarizing."

"And how well balanced are these poles?" Richard asked dryly.

"Most of the planet is cautiously supportive."

"But the ones who aren't will be dangerous. To Naboo and to themselves." Richard rubbed his face tiredly. "But I really can't feel it in my heart to feel a lot of blame."

"Lord Ceidron has made a public statement in denouncement of your decision."

"Of course he did." Ciedron would not have been able to stomach even the appearance of apathy.

"Should I arrange an audience with him, sire?"

"No. Let him be, for now."

"Lady Nashira requested an appointment."

"I have no wish to see her."

It didn't occur to him until later to ask when she had made that request, before or after the previous night's incident.

He watched some news feeds and then walked around the palace for a while, nervous and dejected. Finally, he went in search of his wife. When he went to the royal quarters, he was surprised to find that Yvenne had a guest.

"Réka." It had been some months since he had seen Yvenne's cousin. Beautiful and proud, Réka had once captured his interest, before Yvenne's substance had revealed and then eclipsed Réka's vanity. The memory of his attraction did little to help his mood in light of certain considerations.

"Your Majesty," she said, rising to her feet and bowing respectfully with her head.

From the floor near Réka's feet, Sioned shot to her feet and ran over. "Daddy!"

Richard smiled for what felt like the first time in days. "Hello, sweetheart," he said, picking her up in a big hug.

"What are you doing here?" he asked Réka when he put his daughter down again.

"I came to see how my cousin is doing and to play with my littler cousin," she said primly. She held out a hand puzzle to Sioned.

Sioned was clearly excited. "Again!" she cried, jumping up and down.

"It is not that difficult."

"Where is Yvenne?"

"She is resting, or so the servants tell me." With delicate fingers, Réka pulled open the puzzle again. "This piece," she said importantly, is the key. "Without it, none of the others will hold together."

Sioned clearly did not understand, but she followed Réka's movements carefully.

"Will you stay with Sioned? I have to talk to my wife."

"Certainly. I am happy to help."

Eyeing her cautiously, Richard left the grand sitting room and proceeded deeper into the apartment. The luxurious carpet muffled his footsteps.

He found Yvenne in the new baby's nursery, sitting in the hover chair, humming. She looked up when she saw him, and to Richard's surprise, smiled. This only made him feel worse. "Good morning," she said.

He sat down on the footstool that accompanied the chair. "How are you feeling?"

"A bit uncomfortable," she admitted.

"I'm sorry for that. How can I help?"

"Keep me company."

"All right. But—"

"But what, Richard?"

"I'm afraid I came here with an intention opposite of making you comfortable."

"What do you mean?"

"I—" he hardly knew how to begin. "You're not happy here, are you Yvenne?"

Her humming faltered and she looked a little bit sad. "It hasn't been easy," she admitted. "I hadn't—"

"Hadn't what?"

"I just hadn't expected to feel like I was doing this alone, is all."

"What do you mean by 'this' exactly?"

She looked at him. "Our marriage, Richard. Oh, I know you're the king and I knew that it would take up so much of your time, but I wanted to be your sanctuary, and you have never let me be."

"I didn't want to take my work home with me."

She laughed softly. "With any other man I might concede the point, but you are hardly just anyone. Your work, your home. They're all the same. Your home is here. When I said that I would marry you, I expected we would be doing it together."

"I don't know what I expected it to be," he confessed, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. He rubbed his hands together distractedly. "With the exception of the siege, Padmé's terms were flourishing successes of peace and prosperity. And even her dark moment turned into a glorious triumph. She made it look so easy. I wanted that."

"And instead you got a galactic civil war and a cruel new taskmaster."

"I think we would have done better if she were still on the throne."

"I suspect at the end of the day that Padmé would have been forced to make the same decisions that you have."

"Maybe. But she would have done it better. Somehow."

Yvenne made no further comment, but resumed humming.

"I'm sorry, Yvenne," he finally said. He felt as though he were standing outside his body, watching his lips move of their own accord. For some reason, that made it easier.

"I'm sorry that I wasn't the man I promised you I'd be when we married. I have failed you at every turn." After another beat, he took a breath and said, "I permitted another woman to kiss me last night."

Yvenne fell quiet again. "Lady Nashira?"

"Yes. I—stopped her, but not before I should have. I came to ask your forgiveness." He looked up at her, pleading. "I love you, Yvenne. That much has never changed, even though I would understand if you don't believe it. So all I have left is to pathetically beg you to give me another chance."

He held his breath. Yvenne's expression was impossible to read. He couldn't decide how hurt or surprised she was. She seemed so impossibly serene.

Finally, she said, "I forgive you, Richard."

He swallowed. "Why?"

"Because if you hadn't told me, I never would have known."

He reached out and took her hand. "Thank you." After a moment of awkward silence, he asked, "What are you doing tonight? Do you— do you think we could have dinner? Talk some more?"

"Not tonight. I have other plans."

"You do? What are they?"

"Mmmn. Motherhood. I'm afraid I will be much occupied with having a baby."

He stared at her. "You—"

She gave a dry laugh. "I'm in labor, Richard. Why do you think I've been sitting here in a room in the dark, humming to myself and breathing hard?"




"Sabé."

It was warm and wonderful being asleep. It was safe, and everything was peaceful and there wasn't any pain. Sabé shifted and decided to ignore whatever had made her even remember she was sleeping.

"Sabé, wake up."

"No," she protested.

"Padmé is awake."

Her eyes snapped open. "Ben?"

"I'm sorry to wake you. But she's asking for you. There isn't much time."

Sabé scrambled out of bed, momentarily disoriented. "Where am I?"

"We found you some quarters. You fell asleep."

"I'm awake now. Sort of. What about my sister?"

Ben led the way out the door. "She's still declining, but it appears like she mustered enough strength to bring these children into the world on her own. I assumed you would want to be there."

They hurried through the base. When they reached the medical facilities, Sabé ignored the protesting medical droids admonishing her to scrub herself again and hurried into the room she'd left only hours before.

Padmé reached out a hand. "Sabé," she said with a sad, tired smile.

"Hello, you." Sabé clasped her sister's hand and tried to look happy and brave.

Padmé's face screwed up in pain. She took a couple of heavy, steadying breaths and squeezed Sabé's hand very tightly. When the moment had passed, she relaxed her grip again. "I was so happy when they told me you were here."

"The contractions are coming quickly," the nanny droid said from where she was monitoring near Padmé's feet. Another droid was setting up a modesty screen around Padmé's bent knees. "This will not last much longer."

"I don't have much time."

"No," said Sabé firmly. "You're awake now, and you can stay that way."

Padmé shook her head. "I wish I could, but—" she gasped in pain again. "Obi-Wan was right. Something is wrong. I feel like I've been poisoned. Anakin—"

"I'll never forgive him for this," Sabé said.

"Maybe he doesn't deserve forgiveness," Padmé acknowledged. "But he will need it, someday." A tear rolled down her cheek. "And he already has mine. Love is so foolish, isn't it?"

Sabé smiled. "Yes, yes it is."

"You will take care of them?"

"I promise."

Padmé gave a relieved nod. "Then it is enough."

After the next contraction, Sabé said, "Can I tell you a secret?"

"What is it?" Padmé seemed grateful for the distraction.

"I'm in love with Obi-Wan."

Her sister gave a couple of weak chuckles. "I heard about that."

"Already?"

"From Master Yoda, when Obi-Wan went to fetch you. He's quite a gossip. I heard you two made quite a scene."

Sabé smiled.

"I am happy for you. Be happy on my behalf, Sabé."

"I will."

"Tell Richard and Claria—"

"I know. I will."

"I love you, Sabé."

Sabé brought Padmé's hand to her mouth and squeezed it tightly.

"It is time," said the nanny droid.

An hour later, Padmé lay still on the table, covered in a sheet. Sabé held a very pink infant in her arms and an ache in her heart.

"Luke and Leia." A few feet away, Ben was holding her nephew in his arms, rocking him gently as he walked slowly around the room. There was something in his eyes that Sabé had never seen before. It brought a welcome warmth to her insides.

"Luke comes from an ancient Naboo word for 'light'," she said tiredly. She looked down at her niece. "And Leia is for Leiandra."

"Your mother."

"Yes."

Sabé stroked Leia's downy tuft of hair. "Hello there," she whispered.

"What are you going to do now?" Ben asked her.

"I promised Padmé I would take care of these two," Sabé said. "But I've been thinking about what that means." She met his eye. "Palpatine would consider them a threat, wouldn't he?"

"Yes."

"Then it would be best if he and everyone else believes that they died with her."

Ben was very solemn as he regarded her. "That is a hard decision."

"Do you think it is wrong?"

"No. I think it would protect a lot of people." He hesitated.

"Do you have something to say?"

"Master Yoda and Senator Organa and I have been discussing it. The decision would be yours, ultimately, but would you be willing to hear our advice?"

Sabé didn't like the sad look in his eyes. She consented warily. Ben put Luke in the nearby crib and pulled a chair close to where she was sitting. "Master Yoda and I are going into hiding," he told her. "For all we know, we represent the very last of the Jedi ways. That knowledge must be preserved, and if we disappear, Palpatine is more likely to think us dead."

"He will never completely give up."

"No. But his reach isn't as long as he'd like to dream."

"Where will you go?"

"I have something in mind, but I'm not firmly settled yet." He took a deep breath. "Sabé, we think it our best chance would to separate the children."

She recoiled. "Explain what you mean by 'our' best chance, Ben."

"The Emperor is a Sith lord, only a strong Force-weilder could hope to defeat him."

"Then you and Master Yoda go and do it." Sabé tightened her arms around Leia.

"We've already failed."

"You have no right to place a burden like that on these children."

"I know." He closed his eyes, looking haggard. Then he looked at her. "But I have good reason to do it anyway."

"Not if I don't let you."

"Either way they will need protecting. You can rest assured that the Emperor will not be sensitive to your objections."

She swallowed. "Anakin didn't know there were two," she said slowly, stroking her niece's tuft of fuzzy hair. "Which means if Palpatine found one, the gods forbid it, the other would at least be spared."

"Yes."

"We ought not to hide them on Naboo."

"No."

"Where then?"

"Senator Organa expressed a willingness to adopt Leia. He and his wife have been planning on adopting a daughter for some while. The timing would not be suspect."

Sabé looked at Leia's face. "Alderaan. Padmé would approve. And the Organas are fine people." She gave a shaky nod and looked over at the crib. "What about Luke?"

"Anakin had a family of sorts on Tatooine. His mother died some years ago, and her husband, but his stepbrother is still there. He's newly married. They're honest people."

"I never knew that," Sabé said. "But don't you think that's risky? Isn't that the sort of place Palpatine is sure to look?"

Ben crossed his arms and stroked his mustache. "Perhaps. But I believe the risk is minimal. As pressing as he might consider the threat, he will also be much occupied in the next few years to think much on Anakin's distant past. I think it is important that the children have some connection to their father... as he was. He looked at Sabé. And their mother."

Sabé caught her breath.

"On Tatooine it will be easy for me to hide. To disappear, even. I can watch Luke, keep an eye on him from afar, begin to guide him early if I am able." He met her eyes. "I don't have to do it alone. I don't wish to. If you would—"

"If I would come with you. To Tatooine? Run away and hide from everything in the middle of the desert?" She let out a breath that seemed to have been inside her for seven years. "Yes. In a heartbeat, Ben."

His eyes twinkled. "I was going to say 'if you would marry me' but yes, all of that was implied. You wouldn't consider it a dereliction of duty?"

"Marry you?" The words seemed to stick in her throat. She had long ago resigned the thought to be forever unspoken. Part of her was unwilling to surrender them to hope.

"There is no more Jedi Order. And I believe that what might be reborn should be fashioned into something new. Something better. Something that is not afraid of family. Sabé— would you marry a tired old man?"

She leaned over and kissed him. "You know I will. And to answer your question, no, I don't feel like I'm running away. Our charge would be high, after all, protecting Luke, even Leia, if we can from time to time.

"Besides. I think we've earned it."




Well, my chapters may be infrequent, but at least they're long!

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
luney27
Mar. 30th, 2012 01:41 am (UTC)
Ooh I love it! I am glad Richard told Yvenne about Narisha! And Padme and Sabe's talk, and Obi's marriage proposal, and oh EVERYthing. I love the way you write Royals. And the first of a great line of Richards. ;)
angelqueen04
Mar. 30th, 2012 02:32 am (UTC)
*squeaks* OMG thanks for letting me know this chapter was posted too. I totally hadn't seen it. ;)

*shivers* Poor Richard, having to be scrutinized by Palpatine. Ick. Wouldn't wish that on anyone. I was also so glad to see him be honest with Yvenne about Narisha. It's only one step, but one has to start somewhere. ;)

I love your interpretation of Padmé's demise. That Anakin actually poisoned her by lashing out with the Dark Side makes sense. Far better than having 'lost the will to live', that's for sure. I teared up during the scene with her and Sabé. I love how that, despite everything, Padmé was able to tease Sabé about Obi-Wan, if only for a moment.

I wonder if in the coming years Sabé's anger toward Anakin will grow? He as good as murdered Padmé because he pitched a fit like a four-year-old, slaughtered the Jedi, and laid out the death blow to the Republic. Yeah, if it were me, I would not have much cause to forgive him, even if Padmé had. But then, in the end, only Luke had the faith that Anakin could be redeemed. Obi-Wan and Yoda had given up on that, and Leia never had that faith to begin with. Sabé would probably just be happy to knife him or something.

Wonderful, amazing job! *dances* Am now going back to read the chapter again! ;D
grav_ity
Mar. 30th, 2012 03:01 am (UTC)
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

You are going to make me SO SAD.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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