"And thus," Padmé announces to the Senate, "I conclude my proposal. I hope that you, the wise and honorable gentlebeings of the Galactic Senate, will agree to its necessity." She takes a seat, to polite applause; it's a minor bill, really, but to get anything passed at all, the sponsoring senator has to pretend that whatever the issue is is world-changing and life-threatening. This proposal, one that would require legions and battalions to individually decorate their star destroyers so as to more easily differentiate them, is pretty much just a nice gesture that will help only the clones and the war's PR, but Padmé couldn't just say that to the Senate or they'd have laughed her down.
As it is, very few people seem to care about the bill; after about an hour of disinterested discussion, it passes. The Senate moves on to other various unimportant issues. This morning, they'd failed to pass a fairly important vote — increasing regulations on the corporations that hadn't decided to join the Separatists — and low-cost issues are all that anyone has energy to consider, for now. Undoubtedly they'll all be back to their nonsense and arguments tomorrow, but today Padmé can just relax, and perhaps make another proposal to install a shaved ice dispenser in the Senate lobby.
The Senate, after deciding that installing kaminoan-preferred spectrum lights would benefit only a minority and would in fact give sunburns to a larger minority, breaks for lunch.
On her way out, Padmé nods to Senator Alavar and Senator Chuchi. The pantoran senator nods back absently, engaged in a discussion with Senator Dowmeia; Senator Alavar just ignores her, though it's probably not an intentional slight since the senator seems to be fully engrossed in whatever she's reading on her datapad.
Sabé, following just to Padmé's left, clears her throat.
"Did somebody schedule a lunch meeting?" Padmé asks, trying not to sound petulant. She'd been looking forward to a private lunch.
Cordé, following just to Padmé's right, shakes their head. "No, but the Chancellor would like a few moments to talk with you; Eirtaé suggested that you meet him ten minutes before the next session begins."
"Very well," Padmé says. It would cut her lunch break short, but only by a little. "Anything else?"
"Senator Yarua wants to meet sometime soon, but he pointed out that trying to have a lunch meeting would likely mean that neither of you got to eat." They pass Padmé a datapad with a short message pulled up on the screen.
Padmé reads it, then snorts. Senator Yarua's bluntness is always a relief, but what else would anyone expect from a wookiee? "Let's suggest tomorrow midafternoon; Bail will be giving that presentation on intraplanetary supply lines, and someone will surely call for a recess afterwards to discuss the implications."
Sabé nods, taking the datapad and typing in a quick message. "You've got another message from Clovis."
Cordé grins. "Just wanted to let you know before we send it off with the rest of the junk mail. Versé and I take turns skimming them just to make sure there's nothing important; this one didn't have anything, unless you consider badly-rhymed poetry to be important."
"I definitely don't." Padmé sighs. "I don't suppose you have any news—" she stops, then clears her throat a bit. "Sabé, stop laughing. Any news about General Skywalker."
"Well…" Cordé begins, their eyes wide.
"General Anakin Skywalker."
Cordé snickers, while Sabé tries and mostly fails to stifle her giggles, and Padmé wishes that it were easier to subtly kick somebody while wearing a dress.
"I haven't heard anything new," Cordé finally says. "But that does mean that nothing bad has happened; Ellé set up an alert feed that'll ping one of our datapads if any news comes through, and it hasn't since this morning."
Padmé sighs, and ignores her handmaidens' continuing amusement as she enters her office. The desk is already set with a light meal, enough for her, Sabé, and Cordé; her other handmaidens have already eaten, and most are mingling with the other Senatorial aides.
Moteé, though, still stands by the desk, her stance calm and casual. "Senator," she greets Padmé. "You got a package. It's been checked and cleared, and I decided to stay here to make sure nobody tampered with it."
"That's what the Senate Guards are for," Padmé begins to tell Moteé, but she gets distracted halfway through.
Sitting on her desk, just to the left of her meal, is a small brown box with a purple floral design stamped on its lid. Padmé lifts up the lid, her eyes wide and her hand almost shaking; inside sit four chocolate-covered Chandrilan candied violets.
"There's a card, too." Moteé hands over a small slip of flimsiplast, of much lower quality than the box; the words on it look like they were quickly scribbled by somebody in a rush, perhaps somebody who had forgotten to get a fancier card.
Muja fruit is red,
Violets are blue,
I hope you have luck
With bill 837512.
That bill had passed against Padmé's wishes a few days ago. It took a long time to ship goods during wartime, even from Chandrila. Anakin must have ordered this over a week ago, for it to have arrived today.
"Well," Cordé says. "He is much better at rhyming than Clovis, I'll give him that."
Padmé elbows Cordé, ignores Moteé's practiced innocence and Sabé's snickers, and sits down to lunch.
Not before slipping the note into her pocket, of course.
When Padmé finally begins to make her way back to the Senate proper to meet with the Chancellor, it's with the taste of violets and chocolate still on her tongue. Not even Versé's and Dormé's teasing nudges can get her to stop smiling, to the point that even Chancellor Palpatine comments on it.
"It was just nice to have a refreshing lunch break," Padmé demurs. "So nice to get so many proposals heard and passed today. That's it, nothing more."
Chancellor Palpatine smiles, his face kind. "Of course, my dear. You've got a little chocolate on your chin."
Padmé can feel her cheeks turning bright red. She really, really misses the full-face makeup of the Queen of Naboo sometimes. "Thank you," she says stiffly, taking out a handkerchief and wiping the small smear away.
"You're welcome," the Chancellor says, and touches her shoulder. "Senator Amidala — Padmé — please, know that you can come to me if you have any concerns. A Jedi's way of life is a hard one, and they are sometimes forced to put aside many things in pursuit of their goals, whatever those goals may be—"
"Who said anything about a Jedi?" Padmé is very proud that her voice doesn't waver; she is, after all, a Senator for the Republic, and knows how to keep her emotions hidden.
Chancellor Palpatine smiles again. "Why, nobody, of course. I was simply… making an analogy."
"I see," Padmé says. "Well. Yes. Thank you for your advice, Chancellor. Now I really must go prepare for the afternoon session."
"Very well. I will see you there, Senator Amidala." He nods his head respectfully, and Padmé replies in kind before turning and walking calmly out of the room.
After she steps through the doorway, she smiles again. In her pocket, her hand brushes against the note.
Bill 837512 hadn't gone the way she wanted, but others in the future will. With her and Anakin working together, surely there's nothing in the galaxy they can't fix.