Should anyone have thought to question it (no one ever does), they would find it right and proper that her own women accompany Padme Amidala to her final resting place. The queen always travels with five handmaidens, after all.
Far below the palace, in a small hall of carved stone, the guards lay Padme on her platform before they turn, nod, and depart, all without raising their eyes. (When they finally emerge back into the palace grounds, blinking, they have no memory of the last hour, of the women who waited for them to do their duty and leave.) The women draw near, surround her. If they stay very, very still, they can almost convince themselves they see her chest rise.
“Now what,” Sabé says, flatter than a question. There is so much caught up in her words, stinging at her throat, her eyes. (She might kill him herself, she thinks, and it is a wild thought, because he is dead, and will stay that way.)
They all know what, and it almost seems like no one will speak. But eventually it is Dormé who answers, sitting on one of the stone benches provided and propping her chin in her palm. “Now,” she says, eyes fixed on Padme, “we wait.”
“Waiting” perhaps does not best fit what they do. They make the hall and its small warren of tunnels and chambers their home. They never lack for food, or firewood. They play games, holograms flickering in the dark, and tell stories, fairytales that dance in the firelight. They cultivate the ivy that seems determined to climb their walls, and they miss the ocean. They listen to news broadcasts in grim silence, tracking the Empire across the galaxy. They keep careful eye on Padme, because surely, surely –
They don’t all remain, all the time. Sabé – Sabé burns like fire, she rages, and no one begrudges her when she leaves for the Rebellion. She always come back. (At first she would come back smelling of metal and burning air. But later, she returned with stories of a little girl with big eyes they knew well, loved and safe. Later still, she told of a princess with a spine of steel and fire in her eyes.) Rabé visits home, until she can no longer explain to her wife and children why she does not age as they do.
(Saché is happy to stay – what does she have to leave for her? The Trade Federation took her family, the Wars her sister and husband. But sometimes, at night, she walks through the palace gardens and listens to the waterfalls. Sometimes, Eirtae joins her.)
Without the baby (“Babies,” Dormé whispers, still awed), Padme’s stomach decreases, until almost flat again. But the flowers in her hair do not wither.
Years, decades pass, and their little corner of the galaxy stays quiet, unchanged. The Empire marches ever on, and the Rebellion claws back what it can.
The news of Alderaan comes to them through one of Sabé’s contacts, and it takes her knees from under her, steals the breath from her lungs. It is Saché who helps her to her feet, who holds her as they stare at Padme, waiting for her vengeance.
She does not stir.
(As it turns out, Leia does not need her mother’s vengeance. She blazes a trail of her own across the galaxy with her defiance, with the Rebellion’s continued existence and her brother at her side. “Do you think they know?” Eirtae asks one night. Rabé shudders at the idea of separating her children, while Sabé stares into their fire and says, “They had better,” low and dark, before she drains the rest of her wine.)
Their hearts stutter as one when they hear of the Death Star, of the Rebellion’s victory on a far-flung forest moon, and not a single one of them breathes easy until they hear that Luke Skywalker walked away as calmly, as easily as he walked in. “Jedi,” Saché says, but her hand is pressed to her mouth, and the noise that follows is both sob and laugh.
(They listen to the celebrations far above them, and no one judges Eirtae for humming another song, another parade under her breath.)
They listen, and they wait. They try to imagine Leia’s wedding dress, how much bigger it must be than her mother’s (“Well it can’t be smaller,” Saché points out). They laugh together when Ben Organa comes into the world (“What kind of name is Ben?”), and grit their teeth at the near-immediate slowness of this new Senate. (Sabé thinks of the girl she knew, and winces.) They ponder the possibility of another grandchild, the way Luke and Calrissian reportedly seem determined to dance around each other for eternity.
They mourn at the news of another slaughter, another temple’s destruction (and Dormé remembers the smoke, the way the taste of death hung in the air so thick not even Coruscant’s smog could clear it, never mind Palpatine’s pretty words). They listen for news of a body that never comes.
They listen to the sound of war building in the distance, to Leia rallying her people once again and Luke’s silence. And they wait.
Padme does not wake.
Until the First Order comes for Naboo.