The twins don’t kill her, though she wishes they had. When the doctors finally hand her both babies so, so carefully, she stares down into their (thankfully, sleeping) faces and feels nothing. Padmé may not be Force-sensitive, but she knows her light and love is gone, and with him all the light in the galaxy. These poor darlings didn’t have a chance. They don’t remind her of him; they don’t have his same pull and grace and charisma and soul. They are, and she knows they’re his, but without him here, they’ve somehow lost their beauty.
But Obi-Wan is there, beside her, and he seems to understand. She knows Obi-Wan loved Anakin as much as she did, and she can see it in his face: he feels it too. She hands him the twins and he gives them both a sad smile, one she couldn’t even muster the strength to fake. She wishes she could. They deserve a happier, brighter mother; they deserve more in this galaxy than she feels she can even give herself.
“I can’t do this,” she whispers, voice choked with the tears threatening to fall. “I can’t …” and she struggles to find the right word.
“I know,” Obi-Wan whispers back, and she floods with relief at not having to explain herself. “If you’d like, I can find them homes. Good people, safe places. Far away from this disaster.”
“Please,” Padmé manages before the tears come.
She kisses them one last time before Obi-Wan whisks them away. She whispers small reminders to them- “you are loved. Your father loved you. Your mother loves you now..” –things that could be lies if she didn’t believe they were true, deep down. If Ani were here, he’d love them. He’d lift them in his arms and boisterously point out their traits, the way they looked at him, what kind of people they would be. “Oh this one,” she imagines him saying with Luke raised in the air. “This one, he’ll be a great writer someday. Somebody’s got to make sure his sister’s exploits get the proper care they deserve!”
If Ani were here, she’d love them too, though she suspects she does now. She wants them safe. She wants them happy. She wants them to grow up into lives that celebrate them for being alive, that aren’t constantly marred by the loss of their father. Is that not love?
When Obi-Wan returns, he meets with her in an apartment she’d acquired in secret. So much has to be in secret, now. The Emperor is already rapidly changing the landscapes she thought she’d known best, and she has to make sure she draws no attention to herself. The Senator from Naboo is gone- died in childbirth, the rumors say. Or killed by a rogue Jedi, say others. Or simply disappeared, as so many others seem to be doing. No one seems quite sure of her fate, and she’s content to keep it that way.
She knows that he’s walking on eggshells around her. She doesn’t care. She’s grateful that he lowers his voice and softens his movements in her presence. Padmé is not so proud to think she isn’t fragile; grief can do terrible things to a person.
“They’re safe,” he assures her, and she cries with relief as he details the loving families he’s taken them to. “We can visit them, if ever you’d like,” he says.
“No, no… I don’t want them to be conflicted, I don’t want them to think they’re unloved.” She sniffles and composes herself. “I don’t want them to feel as if they only matter to me when I can vacation.”
“I understand.” He sits back, letting her breathe, and lets out a slow sigh. “I can’t stay here, Padmé,” Obi-Wan starts slowly, licking his lips as he tries to steady his thoughts. “And I imagine you can’t, either. It’s not safe here for us, anymore.”
“I know,” she replies quietly.
“I am planning to leave here. Tonight,” and Obi-Wan looks into her face, which shows his emotions too openly. He wants her to come with him. He’s desperate. “Please- come with me. I can’t promise a comfortable life, but I can promise safety.”
“Where will you go?” Padmé responds after a long moment.
“Tattooine,” Obi-Wan sighs. “Near Luke, as close as I dare. I want to be sure he is safe, in the times to come. I thought I might..” He lets out a nervous little laugh, embarrassed. “I thought I might try and connect with him again, someday.”
“I see.” Near her son. It’s tempting. From what she remembers of Tattooine, it was dusty and terrible and hotter than she’d like, but Obi-Wan’s right- she can’t stay here, and now that he’s already convinced he’s leaving, she’s suddenly desperate to keep anything that reminds her of Ani close to home. “What about Leia?”
“Leia’s safe on Alderaan. She’s royalty now, and will be treated well. She’ll have a comfortable life.” Obi-Wan sighs. “I wish I could have given the same to Luke, but ..these were the only two people I knew I could trust, and the Organas only wanted one child. He’ll be happy, at least. I hope..”
“I hope.” Padmé falls into a thoughtful silence, trying to piece everything together. “All right,” she finally says. “I’ll come with you.”
The relief on Obi-Wan’s face is palpable, and he smiles slightly. “Thank you. Let’s get what we can packed. I’d rather be early for the shuttle, if we can.”
Tattooine is just as awful as she remembers it, but Obi-Wan somehow got them a decent little house. It’s near the Lars’ farm, where Luke now lives, and is just a quick speeder-ride away from anywhere with supplies, though they only currently own a one-seater. Obi-Wan makes sure that Padmé has a comfortable, quiet room to herself. For the first week she hides in the shadows of their house and cries, but once the guilt and grief begin to quiet just enough to let her think, she begins to change it to suit her.
She writes more than she ever has, both on a datapad she’d brought with her and the paper and pens she finds scouring the old shops in the dusty towns they visit. Poems, diary entries, thoughts on the day or politics of Tattooine or anything she can think of. Padmé considers writing fiction, but she can’t think of anything that doesn’t sound trite to her own ears, and sticks to the facts instead.
(Sometimes, she shares them with Obi-Wan. He always responds with a conversation instead of empty flattery, honestly giving her his opinions, challenging her thoughts or expanding on others. He seems to truly be interested in her writing; she shares more and more of it with him as the time passes. “You should publish,” he murmurs one day. “All these poems of yours could make a lovely anthology.” She disagrees, but that doesn’t stop her from looking into it.)
She begins to collect plants, tiny things that look like they’re already seconds from death that she nurtures into ivies that wrap around her little windows or towering columns that lean in and block the light. They remind her of Naboo, to an extent, and she names them all, speaking to them in soft tones and sharing some of her now-precious water.
(Sometimes, Obi-Wan helps. He shares some of his extra water for her plants, or brings home new plants for her to tend, or new pots and accessories to adorn them with. He never outright enters her room, for which she’s grateful, but once she has to move one or two of them out to save space she starts catching him speaking to them as well, or dusting their leaves off, or trimming off dead pieces.)
She begins to try new hobbies. She’d never been overly interested in cooking or painting before, but now with endless amounts of time on her hands she takes a stab. Padmé quickly learns she’s a terrible cook, burning half of what she tries and somehow rendering all flavor from the rest. Obi-Wan tries it all anyways, but after several failed attempts in a row she leaves the cooking to him. Painting yields more of an escape, once she realizes patience is the key, and she begins to create as many pieces as she can on their limited funds and with limited resources. She manages to sell several of them, however, and feeds them both well for a week each time.
(Sometimes, Obi-Wan helps her meditate. She’s learned how to quiet her mind and find an inner peace she didn’t know she was capable of, and as the time passes she meditates more and more with him. It’s a quiet space in the morning and evening they can share without talking, and eventually she realizes that Obi-Wan can send her thoughts. They idly chat without words, sharing images and colors, and it’s more beautiful than any painting she’s ever created. Sometimes, too, she paints him meditating instead.)
It takes them several years before they fall into bed together. Now, Obi-Wan is sometimes just Obi but more often Ben. He’s just as attentive as Ani ever was, and with their slowly growing Force-connection, he’s able to read every want and need she ever has. Their first time together is so gentle, so tender, that it almost feels like a dream. Padmé refuses to liken it to anything she’d ever had with Ani, because it’s entirely different; Anakin was a love that had to hide and build in secret, and Ben is something she never saw coming. She stays with him that first night, sleeps in his bed and wakes with him wrapped around her, and finds a new kind of peace. It’s not waking beside her beloved, but it’s something special, something beautiful too.
There isn’t a date she can recall as the day they decide to be something more; it feels natural, as if they go from being alone and together to just being together. He’s playful and kind, and just as sad as she is, and she can find no small amount of solace in his words, his arms, his mind. Slowly, her room becomes an office. Slowly, his bed becomes hers too. Slowly, they begin to whisper loves and dearests and darlings to each other.
Slowly, they fill that void together, and are happier for it.
Eventually, she changes her name too. No longer Padmé Amidala, proud Senator and former Queen, and no longer Padmé Kenobi, a grieving widow trying to keep up the appearances of being Obi-Wan’s sister, she had wanted to finally cut that tie but she had no idea what to choose, how to change it. When she’d mentioned it to Ben, he’d smiled and agreed it was a good idea, but had no suggestions. “You should choose your own name,” he’d said, again and again.
“Why is it ‘Ben’?” she’d finally asked one night.
“Because it’s… It sounds very similar to Obi-Wan. Almost like squishing them together, I suppose,” he’d replied.
It seemed a good idea, so she followed it; Amidala and Padmé mixed to form Amélia, a painter and poet living in the wastelands of Tattooine with a man she’d grown to love.
This time, however, she meant it when she took his last name.