Disclaimer: Not mine. None of it.
Beta: A huge thank you to Cariel for beta reading this for me!
No one saw her as Padmé Amidala, not anymore. To the galaxy, the Naboo senator died from poison. Those who believed they knew the former queen claimed she died from a broken heart. Now she walked amongst imperial officers and politicians as a former handmaiden. To most, she was a respected noblewoman, a former decoy to the famous Naboo senator, or so her identification card said. Only Bail knew the truth and it was because of the truth that they found themselves joining in a celebration of a supposed victory over the rebels and their allies.
Padmé was not a woman who easily let the mask slip, certainly not where anyone could see. To her it was all about keeping up appearances. All her life she had been trained and taught that her visage was the defining image of the Naboo. At one time, this was reason she had to be flawless. One wrong word, one wrong move, and suddenly the galaxy would judge her people after her. Now, years later, she did it for another reason, one far more important than social opinion or graces, because millions of innocent lives depended upon it.
Yet as the crowds gathered around to talk politics while tasting fine wines and catered food, the young senator found herself struggling to keep it together. Was it so easy to forget the mountains of bodies burning on funeral pyres? The hollowed blank faces of the broken bodies that once had been mothers, fathers, even children? Her hands shook as she drew in a sharp breath. Padmé wasn't supposed to care; it wasn't her duty to care. One life was said to be a tragedy, a million lives were just a statistic, but it was hard to ignore statistics when their glassy eyes were staring into your soul, silently asking why. It was even more difficult to ignore when some of those faces are of friends and family.
Padmé's hands shook as she tried to keep up the façade that she was proud of the empire, that the victory was much deserved, that she supported the madness and injustice that now reigned. It was then that her eyes caught Bail's watchful gaze. Though his expression was stoic, his eyes spoke volumes. Padmé could see that Bail too was silently struggling. In times like this, there was no greater ally than a true friend who understood what no one else could.
Without a word, she gently slipped an arm around his waist while her free hand slipped across his chest, allowing her head to gently rest against his shoulder. She didn't expect a response as it was a bold move on her part. But Bail needed her strength, and for once Padmé was finally able to lend it to him.
Carefully, his hand slipped around her petite waste while the other slipped to her arm. Padmé knew it was selfish, but she couldn't help herself as she silently closed her eyes, breathing him in. She could feel his nervous anticipation and realized that it mirrored her own. Though she couldn't see him, the former queen knew his watchful gaze was scanning the gardens looking for possible threats. A hint of a smile crept into her features to the thought. In another time, another place, she was certain Bail would have made a fine knight, one whose nobility would only rival Master Kenobi.
Once he was certain they were still alone, his grip around her grew a more confident and secure. He softly sighed as though the weight of the world were being lifted from his shoulders. Bail had found his sanctuary in Padmé, and as she held him for the first time, Padmé realized that she too had found a place of peace.