"Sabé Came Home"

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: The Star Wars characters belong to George Lucas. This fic was inspired by the song "Sunny Came Home", which belongs to Shawn Colvin. Lyrics follow. I'm not making any money from this or anything else, really.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fic is completely AU - it's AU to the Official George Lucas Star Wars Universe and it's AU to my own AU universe. I heard the song on the radio a few days ago and I've been kicking the idea for this fic around in my head ever since.

At least I have a window, Padmé reflected as she looked out over the Palace courtyard. At least Anakin and his Emperor have granted me that much. At the thought of her husband and his master, her mood darkened. Resolutely, Padmé pushed thoughts of the two men she despised out of her mind and returned her attention to the courtyard, where some sort of activity was taking place. She watched as red-robed Emperor's Guards filed out from the Palace and lined the sides of the courtyard in honor guard formation. She felt another stab of icy hatred when she saw the Sith and his apprentice appear, their long black robes trailing behind them, cowls pulled up to cover their heads. Their attitude was that of men who were waiting for something, and soon Padmé saw it, the silver spaceship streaking through the clear blue skies of Naboo. Padmé smiled bitterly as the beautiful Nubian that had once been her personal Royal transport banked and performed a perfect landing in the Palace courtyard. The Emperor's Guards snapped to attention as a ramp lowered from the Nubian with a pneumatic hiss, and more of their number filed silently out, followed by a small female form robed in black.
"Our new Empress," Obi-Wan said ruefully, making Padmé jump with surprise. She hadn't heard him come up behind her. The Jedi laid a gentle, comforting hand on her shoulder as outside in the courtyard, the Emperor embraced his wife Sabé, Padmé's former handmaiden and friend.
"Ah, it is too much, too much to bear," Padmé said, turning away from the traitorous sight and into Obi-Wan's arms. "Why do they even keep me alive?"
"You know why," he said quietly. As if on cue, her newborn infants began crying in the next room, and she winced as her body responded to their cries of hunger, her breasts throbbing as her milk let down.
"Yes," Padmé replied slowly, simultaneously turning away from him and beginning to unbutton her shirt. "I suppose I do."

"Are these accommodations to your liking, my dear?" the Emperor asked solicitously. Sabé turned away from the window where she'd been staring, lost in thought.
"The Royal Apartments? Of course they are to my liking," she said lightly. His lips twisted in one of his nasty smiles.
"I see you are traveling light," he observed, indicating the two wardrobe trunks standing against the wall.
"I have all I need," she replied. "Now, if you will excuse me, I will go to the kitchens and see about the preparations for tonight's banquet." She went to one of the trunks and pulled out a small satchel. "I have brought some of my own recipes for dishes I would like them to serve."
"You think of everything," he said approvingly. She smiled.
"Well, it is not every day that an apprentice is made a full-fledged Sith Lord. It is only fitting that we make tonight an event that no one in the Empire will soon forget."

"What are you working on, Your Highness?" a member of the kitchen staff asked timorously, leaning over Sabé's shoulder to see the small object she had removed from her satchel. It looked like a toolbox.
"Nothing," she said irritably. "You ask too many questions!" Chastened, the man hung his head. Sabé thrust her hand into the satchel and produced a sheaf of papers, which she brandished at the hapless cook. "Here," she snapped. "Take these. See that these dishes are prepared for the banquet tonight. And I don't want any more disturbances."
"Yes, Your Highness," he agreed, taking the papers and hurrying away. Glancing around, she pulled out a book, thumbed through it until she found the section she needed, and began to read.

Sabé sat at the Queen's dressing table, staring blankly at her reflection. She wore a silk dressing robe, and her long dark hair hung straight down around her shoulders.
"Your Highness"? Eirtaé asked hesitantly from her position behind the Empress, breaking Sabé's reverie.
"You have your instructions, Eirtaé," Sabé said quietly.
"Yes, Your Highness," Eirtaé agreed nervously. Sabé momentarily raised her eyes to meet the handmaiden's eyes in the mirror.
"Do not fail me," Sabé said, standing and pressing a small object into Eirtaé's hand. The handmaiden swallowed hard.
"I would not think of it, Your Highness," she finally said. For the first time in the course of their strange interview, the Empress smiled, suddenly looking very much like her old self.
"Then it is well," she murmured, almost to herself.

"Damn stupid security checks," Captain Panaka muttered to himself as he led his compliment of Naboo Royal Guards through the dark, damp forest behind the Palace. "Who on Naboo does the Empress" - and he sneered at the word - "think is going to try to sneak into her precious banquet anyway? And she thinks they'd try coming in through the woods? It's ludicrous."

Sabé stood at the window in the sitting room of the Royal Apartments, staring down at the woods below. Shortly after nightfall, she'd watched with satisfaction as Captain Panaka led his men into the forest. She had shut out all the lights in the sitting room, the better to see what was going on outside. Soon a woman appeared, a cloak pulled up to disguise her features. She was followed by another cloaked woman and a man, both carrying small bundles in their arms. They were met and challenged at the edge of the woods by Captain Panaka, who, after a moment, ushered them into the forest, glancing around apprehensively.

"Sabé my dear," the Emperor said from behind her as the lights in the room came on. "You are not ready for the banquet." She could hear the displeasure in his voice.
"No," she replied without turning around. "I am not."
"I hope you have a good explanation for your lack of preparation," he said ominously. She turned around and smiled at him.
"Of course I do, darling," she said, walking over to stand before him. "I know tonight is a special night for you, and I wouldn't dream of letting you down. Especially not with all of your advisors and personal staff here." She paused. "Palpatine." She added almost as an afterthought, spitting the name at him like an accusation. He stared at her, suddenly uncertain. She gave him a bitter smile, stepping close to whisper in his ear. "I know who you are." She laughed as his eyes widened. "For all your knowledge of the Force and your grasp of politics, you are foolish indeed. Did you think I did not notice how you changed after our marriage? It was Anakin who finally told me all, his tongue loosened by the drinks I bought him at Liam's Lounge. How you seduced him to the Dark Side. How you began the hellish Clone Wars that threw the Republic into turmoil. How you murdered my sweet husband, your own twin!" Her eyes filled with tears, and she roughly wiped her cheek with the back of her hand before continuing. "Since that day, I have waited months for this moment, my husband. I have a gift for you." She held out her hand, letting him see the small silver globe she clutched. He lunged for her, but she evaded him easily, laughing as she activated the thermal detonator. The device immediately began blinking and humming to itself.
"Give it to me," the Emperor commanded, waving his hand slightly. Sabé laughed again.
"Look at you," she said mockingly. "So frightened that you cannot even pull off a small thing like the Mind Trick. Why, I nearly feel sorry for you." She was quiet for a moment, considering. "I'll tell you what. I'll make you a deal," she said slowly, strolling away from him.
"Anything," he agreed, nervously eyeing the device in her hand. "Power, wealth - whatever you want, it is yours."
"Ah, I care nothing for wealth and power," she said. She stopped pacing and turned to face him. "Here is what you will do. You will go before the Senate and admit who you are and confess your numerous crimes against the Republic. Then you will surrender yourself to them for proper punishment."
"Yes, yes, all right, anything you want," he said quickly, wondering how much time was left on the detonator's timer. She deactivated the device and tossed it to him. He slipped it into the pocket of his black robe and gave her a malevolent smile. "You are far too trusting, my dear," he purred. "I'm afraid I've lied to you." She gave him a brilliant smile.
"I'm afraid I've lied to you as well. You see, I made some alterations to that particular thermal detonator - once it is activated, it is impossible to stop. And it should be going off right about - "

The explosion rocked the Nubian as it took off. Obi-Wan struggled to keep control of the spaceship as the aftershocks tossed it about in the atmosphere like a toy.
"What was that?" Padmé asked, hurrying into the cockpit, closely followed by Eirtaé. Obi-Wan pointed to the fireball that was once the proud marble Palace of Naboo.
"My guess is someone set off a thermal detonator," he said, gritting his teeth as the deaths of all the people inside washed over him through the Force. Padmé frowned.
"Who would do such a thing?" She asked. Eirtaé smiled, handing her a small object.
"This is for you, Your Majesty," she said quietly. From somewhere in the back of the Nubian, the twins began to cry. Padmé glanced around as though she didn't quite know what to do. "I will tend to the children," Eirtaé told her quietly.
"Thank you, Eirtaé," Padmé said numbly, eyeing the holocard blankly. Ah, Obi-Wan thought, giving Padmé a sympathetic glance, it's finally sinking in.
"Go play your message," Obi-Wan said gently. "I will get you safely to your retreat, and then return to Coruscant to tell the Senate what has happened." Padmé nodded, leaving the cockpit to find a message center. She sat down, slipped the card into a slot, and activated the player. A small, fuzzy image of Sabé appeared. She was wearing her dressing gown, her hair hanging straight down her shoulders. The image gave Padmé a tired smile.
"Hello, Padmé, my old friend. At last, I can tell you all." Padmé sat back in her chair, watching her friend's final message to her as the tears ran down her cheeks.