Not Invisible

Our presence will be invisible my lady, I can assure you.

– Jedi Master Kenobi, Attack of the Clones.


Act 1

Additional Security

I realize all too well that the additional security might be disruptive for you…

Chancellor Palpatine

''

It was late evening in Coruscant.

After an unusually hectic morning and afternoon at work, the Senator from Naboo and her entourage had returned to the Senator's apartment just in time to receive the new members of the Senator's personal security detail. The meeting, though brief, had been very tiring. Throughout its duration, Amidala had seethed with private irritation as she weighed on one hand the disruption to her work that the additional security would cost her and, on the other hand, the pointless waste of manpower that would have been more effectively utilized in investigating the actions of Count Dooku.

She said as much to Bail Organa, the senator from Alderaan, via comlink that evening. She was working at an improvised bedside desk in her sleeping chambers after having been summarily kicked out of her own office in order for the Jedi to implement "security modifications" (to quote the Jedi Master himself) into its arrangement.

Bail chose to use that opportunity to inform her that on reflection, he was of two minds in this particular issue. Bail was very tactful.

"Dooku seems to have targeted you specifically, Amidala. The additional security is not entirely superfluous. And of course," he added hastily as she drew in breath for a sharp reply, "this is the best opportunity you have of persuading the Jedi to instigate an investigation."

Padmé mentally replayed the conversation that Master Kenobi had had with his apprentice. Anakin Skywalker had definitely seen eye to eye with her. She tried to imagine his Master pleading her case to the Jedi Council.

She shook her head at her hand-held viewscreen. "Not these Jedi. No."

The door to her private chambers opened. She looked up sharply but relaxed when Dormé entered the room. Padmé returned to her conversation with Bail and gestured a negative to the handmaiden when Dormé attempted to remove the almost untouched, now lukewarm meal from her desk. Idly, she noted the thin line of discontent between Dormé's brows. Padmé didn't blame her; she had specifically requested for the meal to be served to her as she worked and she had proceeded to simultaneously hold a dialogue with Bail and type out a report on her data pad.

"You will keep me informed of any new 'developments', of course," she said with false lightness, enunciating her words carefully so that he would not miss the emphasis. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Dormé bustle about the room, tidying up Padmé's personal effects with unnecessary abruptness.

"Hopefully, before tomorrow, I should be able to recover that old report that you requested for," Bail replied calmly.

Her heart leapt. "I'd appreciate that very much." She kept her tone cool. The conversation continued easily, touching on subjects both professional and otherwise. After keeping up the charade for a few minutes, they finally terminated the link.

"My lady, would you like me to send up for another meal?" Dormé sweetly nagged, as she packed into a box the data cubes Padmé had placed on the floor by her feet.

Padmé smiled at her brightly. "Thank you, Dormé, but I'm fine." She poked at the plate until her fork latched on something and she managed not to flinch when she swallowed the lukewarm morsel.

Dormé was mollified. She started arranging Padmé's work-in-progress file.

Padmé looked up from the concluding paragraph in her report. "Dormé, what are you doing?"

"Have you forgotten?" Her handmaiden answered vaguely as she tried to take the data-pad from Padmé. Padmé held onto it until Dormé looked at her with some surprise. "The Jedi asked for you to remain in the living room this evening…" Padmé's eyes flashed. "They need to inspect your private chambers," added Dormé hastily.

Our presence here will be invisible, my lady, I can assure you.

So much for that, Padmé thought. She allowed a bit of her irritation to come out in her voice. "Well, we all will have to compromise, won't we?" She gently pulled her data-pad from Dormé's grip and collected her file. As she bent over to unpack the data-cubes, the thin, form-fitting jumpsuit she usually favoured to work indoors caught her gaze. Unbidden, the memory of a pair of bright blue eyes flashed in her mind. Suddenly and inexplicably, she felt distinctly underdressed.

"Hand me my robe, Dormé. I have work to do. If the Jedi need to inspect here they'll just have to work around me."

Master Kenobi was extremely understanding of the arrangement, of course. He would have suggested as much himself but he only thought to not invade the Senator's privacy. Padmé pleasantly reassured him. The Jedi Knight then proceeded to ignore her as he scrutinized the security details of the room. He managed to find a security defect in almost every aspect of the room, and personally supervised the modifications carried out by the Naboo security officers that accompanied him. Padmé covertly observed this while she rephrased the important point she needed to emphasize in her report's conclusion. Personal irritation fought with frank admiration at the efficiency with which her room was being systematically torn apart.

What a waste. She thought testily. If a fraction of the effort that they use now to keep me in a gilded cage was being spent investigating Dooku…

The Senator shook her head.

After another brave attempt, she decided that she would have to bear Dormé's displeasure and have her meal taken away. The little appetite she had anyway was gone.

tbc