A/N: Thanks again for your support, guys! Please be sure to tell me what you think if you read this! All constructive criticism is more than welcome! :oD I love you guys!
Padmè endorsed the final of the funeral arrangements, sitting back in her chair and sighing. The aide hastily stacked the papers before bowing quickly and scuffling out of the office. The young queen sighed, leaning back in her chair and pressing a hand to her tired forehead.
"Your Majesty, the hour is late. It's been a very long three days. Perhaps you should retire."
Amidala slowly opened her eyes as she turned to the handmaiden. She gave Rabè a tired yet gracious smile. "Thank you, Rabè, but I'm afraid that is something I cannot do."
"I am sorry, your Highness, but our planet is free. The new Chancellor is on his way and the neimoidians are under twenty-four-hour guard. Our people are celebrating. What more could there be for you to do?"
The young queen gave her handmaiden another sad smile. "I have much to do… many… affairs… to finish."
"Can they not wait until morning?"
"I afraid they can't, Rabè."
The handmaiden offered up a sheepish smile. Padmè had hardly heard the usually quiet girl say so much in one day. "Unfinished affairs of the heart hardly allow one to sleep."
Padmè had been looking off to the distance, out one of the large windows to the lights of the city below, biting her thumbnail when the handmaiden said this. She slowly turned to her. "What did you say?"
Rabè smiled again, comfortingly, this time. "When one's heart is in turmoil, sleep is elusive."
"Who said anything about affairs of the heart?"
"We may not speak unless spoken to… but we see, your Highness….I see. And what I see right now is a young woman in love."
Padmè just looked at her, astonished.
Rabè placed an encouraging hand on her forearm. "Go to him."
Amidala's mouth suddenly contorted into a frown as she quickly turned away. "I can't," she admitted, defeated.
"Of course you can, Padmè," the handmaiden's use of her informal name was unnoticed by the upset queen.
"You don't understand," she turned back to the caring handmaiden, tears spilling down her cheeks. "You don't know what I've done to him."
The handmaiden remained characteristically silent knowing that the queen just needed someone to talk to.
"I was cruel, and rude, and dismissive… the last thing I said to him was horribly cold." She choked on a small sob. "He must hate me. How could anybody like me? I'm so awful!"
"Shhhhh," Rabè began to rub her back comfortingly as Padmè drew her knees up to her chest, sobbing.
"Why did it have to be like this? Why?! It's not fair."
Not exactly knowing specifically what the young queen was talking about and presuming that Amidala didn't really know either the handmaiden offered up a hopefully helpful piece of information. "You went to see him earlier."
"He was unconscious, he didn't even know I was there," she ad pulled hack and hit her knees with her fists in anger.
Rabè's lips parted slightly in surprise at the response. Unconscious?
Seeing her friend's confusion Amidala steeled herself for an explanation. "He hurt him. That creature that attacked you in the desert- it came back and it hurt him. It was looking for me. It tortured him Rabè. He was in pain, terrible pain because of me! It's all my fault! He and Qui-Gon were here because of me! I have their blood on my hands and I'll never be able to clean them!"
Rabè looked at the sobbing mess of a queen for a moment longer before gathering up the courage to say what must be said. "We can control the past no more than we can control the suns. What's done is done and nothing you do can change that. No matter how hard you wish it. No matter how hard you try. All we can do is make sure we don't make the same mistakes again," she paused as Padmè continued to cry. "Now what I see here before me is not the queen of the Naboo," Padmè peeked over at her, expecting some sort of harsh criticism of her character. "What I see before me is an eighteen-year-old girl whose heart is aching." Padmè let out a whimper as she tried to stop her sobs. "Ruling a planet is one thing. But understanding our true selves and having the courage to follow our own hearts is another. The biggest challenge you will face as a woman is discovering what your heart is telling you. Close your eyes, Padmè. You must learn to listen."
Having stifled her sobs somewhat the young queen sat up more straightly as she closed her eyes. She took a few shaky, calming breaths then opened her eyes and turned to Rabè.
"Well?" the handmaiden prompted.
"I need to go to him…"
Rabè nodded encouragingly.
"But I all ready knew that! I'm just…"
"Oh of course you're afraid! But knowing what you want is half the battle!"
Padmè looked away again as if she were about to begin crying once more.
"Oh for heaven's sake! Get your ass out of here and over to the infirmary!"
The young queen looked at her handmaiden, shocked before busting out into giggles. Rabè had always been quiet yet with her silence wise beyond her years, however Amidala never expected ho hear a harsh word like that escape her lips.
Padmè smiled slightly as she got up and began for the door. She stopped halfway and ran back to the handmaiden, pulling her into a full hug. "Thank you, Rabè."
The handmaiden just smiled in response.
The world was so cold one minute then so warm the next. The young padawan tried to move his head and groaned slightly at the pain the movement caused. A disembodied voice was speaking to him. It was like trying to catch the words of the pines when the winds whispered through them. He felt a comforting hand on his forehead and was vaguely aware of someone squeezing his hand.
No. Qui-Gon would have tried to reassure him by enhancing his Force-presence. Then who was it?
The soon-to-be-knight gently opened his eyes, squinting in the stark light of the infirmary. He turned his head toward the person sitting next to him and sucked in a sharp breath as the pain of the movement washed over him. "Padmè?" his voice was hoarse.
"Shhhhh. I'm here. Everything's going to be all right," she cooed as she gently stroked his forehead and hair.
He scrunched up his face as a sudden wave of nausea washed over him.
"The medics have given you a very powerful painkiller. It's kept you asleep most of the night but should be wearing off soon."
His groggy mind tried to put two and two together. He was in the infirmary with painkiller and Padmè. Why? Where was his master? Why was- oh gods. His master… his Qui-Gon was dead. Gone forever leaving a gaping hole in his soul. And the Sith… he had killed the Sith. Had cut him in half.
"Do you remember what happened?" a hesitant Padmè asked after a long pause of observing the Jedi.
Obi-Wan nodded his head the best he could. "Now I do."
"Obi-Wan… I need to tell you something." She waited until he turned to her, latching his tired eyes to her face. He was mildly surprised to be met with the tearstained, dark circled eyes of the queen of the Naboo. Was this some humanitarian façade that she was attempting to pull by sitting by his bedside? She couldn't fool him. She knew how she really felt about him. A pang of hurt rose up from his heart
"I'm sorry," she looked down, trying not to cry. "I'm sorry for bringing you and Qui-Gon here," at the mention of his master's name in that tone of voice the padawan choked back a lump in his throat. "I'm sorry that I lied to you, made you believe that I was a handmaiden. I'm sorry that we got lost in the woods and were followed by those men. I'm sorry that you got hurt- were shot. I'm sorry that I ever needed saving in the first place," silent tears slid down her cheeks like a well-worn river. "I'm sorry, Obi-Wan. I'm so sorry. But I did need saving. Not just from the invasion, not just from the bounty hunters. You taught me what it was like to love- to truly care about someone so much that it drives you crazy. For loving me so unconditionally in return, almost only because I loved you. How can I be a good queen if I don't know what that's like? How am I meant to care for my people without knowing what real love is like between two people?" Her tear-filled brown eyes searched his. When the wounded Jedi did not respond, she continued.
"And… I'm not sorry for sending you and Qui-Gon to create a distraction. I'm not sorry that that… thing… tortured you for me. I'm not sorry that Qui-Gon died as a result!"
Obi-Wan just waited, hoping that she would say something comforting after a statement like that.
"Shhhh! Oh! Sorry ma'am- I didn't realize…" the startled nurse suddenly grew humble.
"No, I am sorry. I will keep my voice down from now on."
The nurse gave her a shocked glance then scurried away, embarrassed to have shushed the queen.
Amidala turned back to Obi-Wan who was trying to laugh as best he could without hurting himself.
"This isn't funny!" she hissed quietly.
"I was trying to explain to you how I want to choke the life out of that tattooed man with my bare hands-that's how I feel, and you're laughing?"
"I all ready killed him," the young man raised his eyebrows as he spoke.
"…I know… Captain Panaka-"
"You were shushed by an old woman-"
"Obi-Wan!" the young girl hissed again. "She wasn't that old! … And it's rude to comment about someone's age like that."
"It was a mere description and she was old. I don't see why you have to get so huffed about it."
"Huffed? I'm not huffed! What kind of a word is 'huffed' anyway? Some weird Jedi slang?"
"You don't say 'huffed' on Naboo?"
"No. We say 'ruffled.'"
"Ruffled?" His face was incredulous.
Padmè didn't catch his expression. "Do you Jedi really say 'huffed'?"
"No, probably just me."
"Well ruffled is much more sensible."
"How in the galaxy are you going to justify that?"
"Damnit Obi-Wan! I'm trying to pour out my heart to you and you change the subject to old women and expressions that only they use! … Maybe I should have waited until you woke up more. That medication sure seems to betaking its toll…"
"Padmè Amidala I am perfectly fine. Except that I currently can't feel my legs but that's a minor detail."
"Shut up," she cocked an eyebrow.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Yes, you do. Now shut up."
Perplexed, the young padawan did as he was told only to find a beautiful young queen leaning over him before planting a kiss on his lips.
"What was that for?" he asked only slightly in a haze as she pulled away.
"For always being yourself- the one I love."
Obi-Wan couldn't help that small smile that spread across his battered face but disappeared hen something dark crept across his eyes. "Padmè. The invasion is over. Our time together is over. … And Jedi are not… we're not supposed to-"
"Shhhhh," she placed a light hand on his chest, trying to calm him. "You're much too weak to get worked up…. I… I contacted the Jedi Council. They are on their way." She could see Obi-Wan;s eeys getting heavy. She smiled weakly. "Why don't you get some sleep."
Her only response was the even rise and fall of his chest as the last of his strength left him and sleep overcame his wounded form.
"Good night, my sweet knight." She gently kissed his forehead before gracefully rising and leaving the exhausted padawan.