Chapter Ten

"I'm sorry, milady. I know you told me never to contact you and I know I took a great risk in coming here, but you had to know." Sabe paused, realizing that Padme had too much information to digest now.

Padme simply stood frozen in place, her hand covering her mouth in pure shock as she tried desperately to fight tears from spilling down her cheeks. She felt Anakin come up silently behind her and suddenly felt much warmer as he placed a comforting hand on her shoulders.

"What happened, Sabe?" She managed to choke out.

Sabe sighed softly and gently took Padme by the hand. "Your sister contacted me a few days ago and she told me that your mother had been ill since you…since your funeral. Your father finally convinced her to see a doctor a few weeks ago but the illness is already too far along. There's nothing that can be done for her. I'm so sorry, milady."

Something inside Padme broke and the tears began to stream endlessly down her cheeks. Her shoulders began to tremble uncontrollably as Anakin's strong arms came around her. She turned around and sobbed into his chest as he held her.

Sabe took a few steps backward to give them space and nearly collided with a very confused Owen.

"What's going on? Padme…are you alright?" He asked tentatively.

Padme quickly wiped her eyes and put on a brave face. "Don't worry about me, Owen. Beru's waiting for you in the house. You should go talk to her."

This only advanced Owen's growing confusion at the scene he had walked in to. He just shrugged and unknowingly retreated into the house.

Padme watched him go with a soft smile on her face and she even managed to whisper: "He has no idea what he's walking into."

Anakin overheard her and frowned slightly. She just shook her head and even chuckled a little. Suddenly a loud cry and a crash were heard from inside the house. A few seconds of shock passed before the trio hurried into the house.

Owen was scrambling to pick up the broken pieces of the plate that were strewn across the floor as Beru sat at the kitchen table, desperately trying to hide her amusement.

"Is everything alright?" Anakin asked.

Owen looked up from the floor and stared at Anakin square in the eye.

"Yeah…everything's perfectly fine. Oh…by the way, Beru's pregnant and she wants to get married as soon as possible."

Anakin's eyebrows raised slightly and he glanced carefully at Padme who just sighed. Then a rumbling erupted from his chest and he doubled over with laughter. He put a hand on Padme's shoulder to steady himself and the laughter only continued. Padme couldn't help herself, despite everything she had just learned, this situation was just too funny. Her gazed tentatively over at Owen, who was anything but amused, and that finally caused her to break down in laughter.

"Owen…you're such an idiot…" Anakin cried out in between fits of laughter.

"Thanks a lot, Anakin. Thank you very much." Owen spat out.

Anakin only nodded smugly and looked over at Beru, who had a curiously amused expression on her face. "Well, I suppose congratulations are in order, Beru."

She nodded his way, a bright smile spreading on her face. "Thank you, Anakin."

Beru turned her attention to Padme and finally noticed the confused stranger at her side.

"Who's this, Padme?" She asked, immediately fearing the worst had happened. "Oh no, Padme…did someone find out? Do you have to leave?"

Just like that, the laughter ceased and reality drove itself back into the foreground. Anakin coughed loudly and his heart twisted at the pained expression that had appeared on Padme's face.

She sighed loudly and sat next to Beru at the table. "This is Sabe, my former handmaiden. I instructed her never to contact me personally but she came here today to tell me that my mother is dying."

Beru reached out and squeezed her friend's hand tightly. "Oh Padme…I'm sorry…and everything's that happening now…I'm so sorry…none of this can be easy on you."

Padme shook her head furiously. "No, Beru. You shouldn't let my situation take anything away from your happiness. Just think…you'll be married soon, you'll have a new baby…you have so much to be excited for and I'm so happy for you. I really am."

Beru smiled sadly. "I know you are. But you're going to have to leave now, right?"

"Yes…I don't know when I'll be back…I'm sorry I'll have to miss your wedding."

Beru shook her head and shot a determined glance toward Owen. "No, you won't. It's not like the baby's coming tomorrow. Besides, you're supposed to be my maid of honor, remember?"

Padme could only nod as fresh tears tumbled down her cheeks. Beru reached for Padme's other hand and squeezed it reassuringly.

"You need to go home and see your family…and when you get back, Owen and I will get married."

Padme cast a tentative glance toward Owen, who simply shrugged his shoulders in defeat. "Don't look at me," he said. "I don't have a say in the matter."

Beru and Padme exchanged a quick glance and both women burst out into laughter.

"Maybe you should start getting your things together. I'm sure you want to leave as soon as possible."

Padme nodded quickly and immediately stood to pack. As she made her way to Anakin's room, she felt Anakin's eyes on her. She walked briskly into the room and sighed deeply before attending to the task at hand. She really didn't want to leave but there was no other choice.

Several minutes later, Anakin knocked on the door lightly before entering.

"I just wanted to let you know that I can take you and Sabe to the transport as soon as you're ready."

Padme smiled softly. "Thank you, Anakin."

He smiled sadly and started to leave before Padme's gentle voice stopped him.

"This might be too much to ask but…would you come with me?"

Anakin took a step closer to her and bit his lip nervously. "Padme, I would be honored."

"Thank you…I just don't know if I can face them alone."

He nodded in understanding. "Well, you won't have to."

"Thank you, Anakin. My mother…I don't know if she'll understand and now…I don't even know how much time I have left with her."

He wordlessly gathered her in his arms tightly and rubbed her back soothingly. "They'll probably be angry and confused at first, Padme but don't you think they'll just be happy that you're alive?"

Padme exhaled deeply into his chest and buried her face in his shirt.

"I know, Anakin." She mumbled.

"You don't have to worry," He whispered in her hair. "No one except your family will see you. You'll be safe. I promise you."

She nodded and her grip around his neck tightened. "Thank you."

As she spoke, her face turned toward him, her cheek pressed against his. Her breath came in short gasps and he couldn't decide if she was crying or if it was something else. However, he knew that that was too much to hope for, especially now.

"We should go now." He murmured gently as he stroked her hair one last time.

She nodded and his arms slowly released her. He swiftly picked up her small bag and motioned for her to follow him. Within minutes, their good-byes were said and they headed toward the public transports, their destinies entwined with the outcome of their trip.