Living A Lie

Chapter 2, To Be Lawfully Wedded

Office of the Naboo Delegation, Senate Rotunda

We'd be living a lie. I couldn't do that, could you?

"Well, Anakin, I am learning fast."

"Mesa pardon my lady?"

Padmé looked up from the surface of the conference table to the concerned Gungan face staring at her. "Nothing, Jar Jar," she said, "I was only thinking out loud."

"Yousa not look too good, mylady. Maybe yousa take day off."

"No!" she said firmly. Jar Jar was taken aback; then he turned back to the datapads he was studying.

"I'm sorry for shouting, Jar Jar," Padmé said, contrite. "I overreacted."

Jar Jar mumbled something in reply without lifting his face from his work. He was obviously still hurt which was odd for Jar Jar. Padmé felt that she knew why but she could not just bring herself to remember now. So she just shrugged mentally and turned to the sheaves of parchment that she was supposed to be studying for the next senate session. She had not turned a page since she opened it half an hour ago.

Her mind was not on her work. It was on her husband.

Husband. She had barely seen him since he had left her at Naboo to return to his responsibilities at Coruscant. For the first time since she had taken up her responsibilities of Galactic Senator, Padmé had not longed to prolong her short stay at home. Instead, although outwardly she had been attentive during long council and private meetings with the Queen and her cabinet, and she had been diligent with her affairs in her office in Theed and devoted at home with her parents (Sola, thankfully, had returned home with her daughters), internally, she had been loathing every minute of her stay in Naboo; her beautiful world that filled her with so much joy and dedication repulsed her. It was as if when Anakin left, he had taken with him her pleasure in the simplest of things. It had been a constant act of will to get up each morning and get through her day knowing fully well that when she woke up he would not beside her and that there was no chance of seeing him or communicating with him during the day. Their time together had been so brief- it was barely a month ago when her only mental image of him was the poignant recollection of the little Tatooine slave but now he was so insinuated into her existence that she felt like if she had never – and could never – be without him. It was as if all this while she had been a prisoner and Anakin had come and freed her and she had tasted the sweet sense of freedom, only for him to leave but not before locking her back in her cage. It might have been better not to have ever been freed than to have known it and had it taken from you.

Her stay in Naboo had seemed interminable but really it had been very brief. In less than a week, she was en route to Alderaan to attend a meeting of the Loyalist Committee on their position during the ongoing Wars. Then she was in Malastare, campaigning against a bill that placed embargoes on refugee transport exiting from Separatist systems. Then she was back in Coruscant, pitching her case to the ad hoc committee set up by Chancellor Palpatine to deal with matters of 'secondary importance' to the Senate because with the new emergency powers of the Chancellor, issues concerning the Clone Wars – including the placement of embargoes on refuge ships – were vetoed directly by the Chancellor and at the same time, he was too busy to deal with most of these matters directly so he had delegated some authority to a committee of selected advisors to do so. Some of the advisors had been Jedi Masters.

The moment she arrived on Coruscant, she had sent out her feelers for Anakin – where he was, what he was doing. Padmé Amidala had gained a new respect for the Jedi. When they wanted their operations – and their whereabouts to be kept secret, they succeeded. All her spies had been able to find out was that Master Kenobi and his apprentice were sent on assignment off-world. Where? For how long? In relation to what and most especially for how long? – were questions to which they could give no answers. She had tried using her skills on the numerous Jedi that suddenly seemed to populate the Senate – there was a time not so long ago that she had noted their number without any marked interest, now the swish of a brown cloak, the twist of a braid made her heart jump in her body – but nobody could be persuaded to part with information about Kenobi or his apprentice. After a while, for fear of conspicuousness, she had ended all inquiries. After all, he should be able to contact her.

But he had not.

"It's time to go," Jar Jar said.

Padmé fell out of her reverie and glanced at the chrono in alarm. Hours had passed since they sat at this table. She looked down at the notes that she had not even glanced through.

This was an impossible situation.

She followed Jar Jar into the Senate Hall and perused the notes carefully while the Bill was argued. Jar Jar was surprised that Padmé did not speak up during the session because the matter concerned the taxation of refugee transport and it was a matter close to her heart. It was only Bail Organa's call just before the matter was put to vote that saved Padmé from voting for the wrong constituency.

Still heavily distracted, Padmé rounded up her day in the office as quickly as possible and left.