Author's Notes: A huge thank you to cariel for beta reading this tale for me.
This was also written for Hayden's angel 81 as part of a Gen!ficathon (Livejournal). Her request was a tale that would explore the relationship between Padmé and her sister Sola =)
When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us?
-- Pam Brown
As a child, Padmé was a prodigy. Intelligent beyond her years, she shone in every class and subject she studied. It came as no surprise to anyone, save Padmé herself, that her destiny was to be a part of Naboo's leadership.
Tradition demanded that family was not permitted into the royal chambers on the eve of a queen's coronation. Ever determined, Padmé used her wiles to ensure that she had her way. Clad in a hooded flame colour gown, Sola entered the royal palace without drawing attention. Handmaidens were by trade virtually invisible, serving solely as the queen's watchful eyes and attuned ears. Sola knew her little sister was more than skilled in combat and self-defence. However, it did her heart good to know that despite her absence Padmé would not be alone.
Upon entering, the grand dressing room Sola paused as she studied her sister who remained unaware of her presence. The chalky white powder contrasted sharply against Padmé's sunburned cheeks. It stood as a silent reminder of the child who had been transformed into a queen. No words could describe the mix of pride and protective concern she felt.
Standing before the grand mirror Padmé kept her hands hidden beneath the opulent sleeves of her crimson gown. Around her royal handmaidens worked feverishly, one putting together her gown while another pleated her long, dark hair. A third tended to her make up while two more discussed the security of the up and coming ceremony.
Padmé's eyes met hers through the mirror's reflection and Sola bowed traditionally. She was uncertain who in her entourage was aware of the visit and who was not. Sola could only hope that her act as awkward as it was would suffice. It did.
"Please excuse us."
The handmaidens left without ever questioning her request, leaving Sola alone with her sister.
There was no embraces, no laughter or smiles of joy. This was a solemn occasion; one that both women respected.
Padmé swiftly closed the distance between them. Her hands suddenly grasped Sola's forearms. Her grip was firm and her expression troubled. There were no words, yet so many questions and doubts lingered. Sola had never known Padmé to be afraid, yet in that moment, there was no denying the fear in her dark eyes or the way her fingers ever so slightly shook.
"If absolute power, corrupts absolutely, what chance do I--" Padmé did not complete her statement.
"You are exactly what our people need, Padmé."
"You say that because I am your sister."
It was the first time in far too long that Sola had seen Padmé smile. In that instant, she wondered if it would be the last. At twelve years old, Padmé had already sacrificed the freedoms every child deserved. Her life belonged to the Naboo now as did her loyalties.
Her sister was an unwitting victim of tradition and politics, a prodigy whose gifts came at a high price. Sola wondered if Padmé truly understood the path she chose to follow. The innocence of her smile said no, the weight of her dark eyes said something else entirely.
Sola wanted to tell her that she had no need to fear, that she was incorruptible. However, Sola knew that leadership changed a person and that duty had a way to wearing down even the most pure of hearts. She would not lie, nor would she discourage her sister. "Hold on to your integrity, to the ideals you have fought and defended. Don't allow yourself to become comfortable with the trappings of power and you will be the queen our people need."
There was so much more she wanted to say, but soon security was arriving, demanding to know why the young queen was not yet ready. Sola knew it was time for her to depart and she did so without another word.
It would be years before she saw her sister again.
Padmé was both reluctant and excited to return home. She was not the innocent naïve child that entered the palace gates of Theed. Nor was she the tired queen who secretly wished to know life beyond the masks of royalty. Today, she was just a young woman on her way home.
Her sister immediately took notice of her companion, the tall, lanky boy who appeared younger than he really was and yet held an age that only the weary understood. Sola was quick to speak of him the first chance she had and despite herself Padmé could not have been more embarrassed
"Sola, don't talk like that. He's just--a friend."
Friendship was not the first word that came to mind. In fact, there were no words describe what she felt or even how she regarded the young man from Tatooine. Padmé did not allow herself to dwell on it, doing so meant facing truths she was not certain she was ready to face.
Sola gave a knowing smile but kept silent as her gaze drifted to the window where Anakin and their father strolled through the gardens. "Friends do not look at each other like that--not the way you both do."
The nagging voice deep within agreed it was soon silenced. It was safer to hold onto facts, to the duties she served and the ideals she believed in. They could not be destroyed, broken or taken away. "I can't afford to take such risks and you know it," she said finally. Who was she convincing now?
Sola folded her arms and raised a brow. "Padmé you are no longer bound to the duties of the royal house. Why must you continue to wear this mask of stoic apathy? What happened to the Padmé who didn't care what the galaxy thought of her?"
Padmé's eyes drifted past the jedi padawan and her father, to the mountains in the distance. She had no answer to give and the only words that came to mind were her sister's blessing of years ago. It was enough. "Because I can't-I won't allow myself to become comfortable with the trappings of my position. I cannot afford distractions and so I wear this mask."
Sola looked over at her and Padmé returned her gaze. There was sadness in her sister's eyes there was pride as well. With a small smile, she grasped Padmé's arm and gave it a small squeeze. "Give it a chance, Padmé. You will be surprised just how wonderful, even necessary such a distraction can be. Even the strongest of souls need a sanctuary."
Padmé did not forget her sister's words and in the brief days that followed, she came to understand the wisdom of Sola's statement.
The private message Padmé sent to her sister that fateful day did not speak of the marriage ceremony that she was about to participate in. Nor did she mention the name of the young man she would soon call her husband. Though it only contained three little words, Padmé knew Sola would understand.
On the other side of Naboo, a young mother received a message that contained no return channel or even a name. It simply read: You were right.
With a small knowing smile Sola put the message to memory and prayed the words of an ancient blessing to honour her sister's happiness.
Sola's final memories of Padmé were not as she imagined they would be. The message she had received the fateful night of her murder had been cryptic at best.
Whatever is to come Sola, I want you to know nothing is, as it seems.
I will see you soon.
Sola was no fool; she knew something was wrong. All the signs had been there, the weariness in her smile, the subtle fear in her eyes, the carefully chosen words and the even more powerful silence. Watching her sister fade away hurt almost as much as her inability to intervene. Sola was not one to stand by, but Padmé would not allow her to step in. Padmé's silence about the war and her own health held a weight of its own.
Padmé Amidala died defending the Republic and the Naboo. Through her murder, she had become something the Empire could never truly destroy. She was now a martyr and a hero.
The peace and safety of her people had been her entire life. Even in death, her name invoked respect and awe. If the newly appointed emperor believed destroying her would break the Naboo, he was wrong. In fact, it had the opposite effect.
Sola felt empty at the sight of her sister's lifeless body. In sombre silence, she followed the casket that held Padmé along side her family. The former queen's womb was still swollen, now empty, a hollow reminder of lost dreams and noble sacrifices. Her physical shell paled in comparison to the fiery life that once possessed it.
As it was placed into the great river of Theed, Sola could not help but be reminded of their childhood, the long hours spent swimming from their parent's lake house to the secret hideaway island. It seemed almost fitting that her little sister who was a comfortable in water as she was on land should return to it.
The only thing that kept Sola from succumbing to her sorrow was the strange message received the night Padmé had been murdered. She did not know what it could mean, but it gave her hope. As the lifeless form of her younger sister disappeared down the river, Sola smiled sadly to herself.
"I will see you soon," she murmured before turning back to her family and departing for home.
Several months had passed since Padmé had faked her own death. The poison had proven more successful than she had initially anticipated. As always, Captain Typho had been correct in his assessment; she not only fooled the medical doctors who had delivered her babies, but Jedi Master Kenobi as well. It was not without its price.
Her heart still ached with the loss of her children. The twins, though safe, were now raised in separate homes. For the safety of her children, Padmé would never learn where they were or who their adoptive parents were. She had been assured that they were with loving families.
The war had broken Anakin. For Padmé, the loss of her children nearly broke her. Her final and violent moments with the famous knight still weighed heavy on her mind. Their ending was nothing like she had imagined.
Endings are the birth of new beginnings.
She could almost hear Sola's voice whispering words of wisdom in her ears. At the time, Padmé had been a child asking about the seasons and why summer never lasted. Her sister did her best to explain why seasons always changed. Years later, her words held an entirely different meaning.
"To new beginnings," she murmured softly to herself as she approached her sister who was pouring a variety of datapads containing mechanical blueprints. All around her, construction went on as a renowned hospital was repaired for damaged inflicted on it during the Jedi Purge. Years of training as both queen and decoy enabled her guise to be flawless and allowed her to slip past security without raising any questions.
Padmé once promised Sola that she would see her again. She never imagined her path would cross her sister's in this way. One look in Sola's eyes and Padmé knew she felt the same way.
There were no tears of relief, no tight embraces or reminiscing of the past. There were too many risks involved, too many eyes watching and ears listening in.
Padmé received orders from Mon Mothma herself to relay a message to a Loyalist contact on Mygeeto pertaining to the arrival of medical supplies and food. It was for the survivors of the Great Jedi Purge.
What she did not know was that her sister was the contact she was to meet until Sola spoke the keywords Padmé was instructed to receive. Choosing her own reply carefully she responded. "I have a message for the supervisor of this project."
Sola gave a sad smile in reply, but did not show any other sign of revealing her identity. Her expression revealed no surprise. Sola's hands barely shook before they were hidden beneath the cuffs of her cloak. Most would have missed the gesture, but Padmé noticed. Unlike her younger sister, the septic engineer was new to espionage. Nevertheless, she had nerves of steel and the mental capacity to back it.
"The shipment is running behind. The supplier has it on backorder, though I believe it is to arrive within the next 18 standard hours."
"Excellent. Tell them to ensure it is delivered to the southeast section of the building. They will find plenty of space to drop off the equipment and I will ensure they have help to unload it."
Padmé smile was also sad, but sincere. Sola's words held a hidden message as well. The delivery of the equipment would aid in the smuggling of Imperial prisoners to worlds were political asylum's could be provided. Padmé also knew it was time for her to leave. Neither sister could quite bring themselves to part ways.
"How are the girls?" The question escaped Padmé's lips before she could stop herself.
"The past months have been difficult, but they are healing." There was no malice in her words, only sadness in her eyes. Sola understood this was something Padmé had to do.
"I am so sorry." The words held more weight than Padmé could openly express, Sola's expression softened. This was something she also understood but could not say.
"There is no need to apologize; I would have done the same." She paused. The air suddenly grew heavy with words and memories that could no longer be freely spoken. "Are they--" Sola began before her voice trailed off. It was too dangerous to speak of such things now. Like Padmé, she could not resist.
Padmé never had the chance to confess to carrying twins, nor could she anymore. The father's identity was also a secret, one that led to the falling out with her parents who feared the worst. If only they knew.
"Safe and in good hands, I'm told." Her voice almost cracked as she spoke of Luke and Leia. Even though it had been several months since she gave them away, it still felt like yesterday.
Forcing herself to control her emotions, the former queen allowed the stoic mask to settle in place as she gave a small bow. "I will not keep you any longer, Lady Naberrie."
Sola nodded. Her eyes were filled with a sad, compassionate gaze. So much remained shrouded in secrets, but even she could not question the weight of Padmé's sacrifices. Any mother would have done the same to protect their children from danger.
"Thank you," Padmé whispered as she grasped her sister's arm and gave it a squeeze. Turning to walk away, Padmé could not ignore the soft whisper of her sister's parting words:
"Goddess go with you little sister."
Goddess go with you too, Sola, Padmé silently prayed as she made her way back to her ship.
Goddess go with us all.