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Ever since Padmé was a little girl, she'd felt the overwhelming urge to help people -- oh, not like the utter compassion she'd seen in nine-year-old Anakin, but an urge that demanded she do what was best for others. For complete strangers.
So is it strange, she wonders through the pain, that she's going to lay down her life for the three she loves most?
Anakin -- all the pain, all the anger, all the twisted in his eyes -- who is barely the Anakin she loves. Padmé isn't so well acquainted with the human body (except, maybe, for his), but she'd felt as if her heart were shattering into little bits when he looked at her.
Luke -- who's only a few minutes old, and screaming his head off now that he can do so. He's far too young to open his eyes, but Padmé thinks that, if he did, she'd see all the ocean's wonders in them, just like she saw in Anakin.
Leia -- she's only seen her daughter's face once, but Padmé fancies that she can see herself in this child. If she turns her head just a little to the right, she'd be able to look again, but Padmé just can't find the strength to.
All four of them should have lived on Naboo, but Padmé is even surer than before that it will never happen. Padmé remembers sitting on the sprawling plains of Naboo and telling Anakin that popular rule is giving people what is wanted, not what they need, and really, it's the same thing here.
She wants to live; not without Anakin, but Force, she wants to cling onto life with the tips of her fingers if she has to. She wants it so much she could reach out and grab life with both hands, but Padmé has always been a politician, and knows what she wants will destroy all she needs.
If she lives? What will happen to her babies?
She's close to Anakin, even now -- so close that he would sense her on the other side of the galaxy, and he would tear apart worlds to find her. She wouldn't be able to hide anywhere, because her husband would always know, and come for her.
Padmé knows she wouldn't be able to watch while innocent lives, people who were helping her, suffered so she could hide.
If she lived, her children would fall under Anakin's hand, and even if he doesn't hurt them (and he wouldn't, he wouldn't, he wouldn't), there's still the Chancellor.
Chancellor Palpatine; the beginning of all this. Padmé isn't Force-sensitive, but even she can see a burning star in her twins, and if she can see it, then Chancellor--Darth Sidious would find it immediately, and hurl them into the tides of the dark. They will drown, and she wouldn't be able to do a thing about it.
(Because, Padmé thinks, she might be a good politician, but her songs would be lullabies of treachery and deceit, and her face a painted mask.)
She might even push them down the road herself, just like she did to Anakin.
If she were sane, if she weren't drowned in pain, and blood and tears, she might listen to the voice saying that it's not her fault--that Anakin chose to turn down the dark path, that Sidious would have found a different piece of leverage--but right now tides surge and block her ears. She wonders, what would have happened if she'd trusted Anakin?
Would everything have been different? Better?
She could have held onto him, and kissed him until the ringing in her ears drowned out the hiss of dull red lava. She could have clung tight and agreed to leave with him, rule with him. She could have stepped in front of Obi-Wan Kenobi's lightsaber to stop him, because she knows her husband's master wouldn't strike down an innocent.
She didn't, and now she's here, under the sterile lights, tortured with the knowledge that a difference choice might have changed everything.
But the past is the past, even if it happened only a few hours ago. She can't reach back in time and do something else, and, deep down, she knows that she made the right choice on Mustafar.
She will make the right choice now as well.
If she lives, she will never be able to give up her children. They are part of her very soul, her last links to the man who made her fall in love, all those years ago on the wildly green plains of Naboo. They have been part of her body for the past nine months. If she lives, her children will be by her side the whole time, and when Anakin--Vader--comes for her, they will be laid bare.
Even if they are not with her, her very existence, her very life, will ignite hope within her husband. She knows him too well to even entertain the hope that he'll leave her children alone. If Vader finds her, he will hunt those children down, never resting, and she will live with the knowledge that the fall of the final hopes of the Republic will be completely her fault.
Padmé's life is the democracy. She knows she wouldn't survive that, and she knows a hundred million others wouldn't survive that either.
"They need you!" Obi-Wan's voice is sharp with desperation and rolling with conflict, like a toddler being picked up by a hurricane.
She thinks of Anakin.
Padmé wants him, she wants to live, and she wants to live with him.
But if she lives, she'll be nothing but a piece of leverage, forever held to keep her children down.
There's only one thing left to say, and one thing left to do.
"There is still good in him," she tries to whisper, but it comes out haltingly, hesitantly. She claws for breath but it has deserted her. "I... know... it..."
Her children need her. That is true. And she can give them only one thing.
That dark look in his eyes, the pain closing around her throat as she struggled to breathe, broke her heart, and dragged her to the edge of life. The burning hatred stripped away most of her desire for life: she is done. She has lived, loved, given birth; she is done.
But only for Luke and Leia's safety, to keep from being an unconventional hostage, does she let go of the edge and enter the Force.
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