Author's Note: So sorry for the long wait! I am so happy to hear from everyone! You guys really do inspire me to keep pushing on. I do really like this story and I hope that everyone else is still enjoying it too. Thank you all for being so sweet to me! I am really sorry about the wait! I am so sorry about the wait! Between work and family, I haven't been able to write as much as I want to, but I'm still trying. I promise. Let me know what you think! Enjoy!
Warning: Talk of death, oocness, unbeta'd.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Padme isn't sure what she expected. Maybe yells of outrage or denial. But the deathly silence was almost too much to take. She wanted to run from the room, un-hear what she heard, and start this day over as if it hadn't happened only for this moment to have never happened. If her limbs hadn't simultaneously both locked up and turned to jelly, she would have run from this room all the way to her apartment and cried for the rest of her life. But she was stuck, frozen in place as people try to make sense of what they heard.
The shock of hearing Palpatine's voice after still being in shock over his death kept a lot of people paralyzed for a moment but then hearing that he had the foresight to choose someone as his vote for future Chancellor has left the people in the room feeling like they have been thrown around for a doozy. Padme realizes that she's not breathing when her chest starts to hurt and she has to force herself to suck in a deep breath to ease the pain in her lungs.
Slowly, in unison, Bail and Mon look at the younger Senator between the two of them with equally surprised and disbelieving looks on their faces. Obviously, neither of them suspected that Padme would be Chancellor Palpatine's vote either. While Padme was close to the Chancellor and had known him most of her life, she was also aware that he had many friends in the Senate, many people who knew him longer than she did, and even better than she did. She also knew that there were droves of people far more qualified for the position of Chancellor than she.
Padme went into this with the mindset of hearing people out and choosing who she believed would be the best candidate for the job. None of them guessed that the Chancellor would have thought to record his decision in preparation for the end of the war partly because he was worried that he may not live to see the end of it, but it also seemed that - while said in jest - a part of him may have sprinted from office the moment that the declaration of peace was signed. And while Padme knew that he jokingly said he couldn't wait for this war to end so that he could retire somewhere no one would ever be able to find him so his waning years could be peaceful and stress free, she also knew that he would stay on for as long as the Republic needed him to.
So many people have died around Padme in the course of this war, and yet somehow the Chancellor was able to hold steadfast through it all that he seemed invincible. Padme assumed, naively, that he would live forever.
Losing him was so hard, but now hearing that he hoped that Padme would take up the mantle for him once he was finished left her feeling a maelstrom of emotions she's not sure how to put into words. She felt honored, yes, but she also felt terrified and confused. If Padme could choose anyone in the galaxy that she believed would be a great Chancellor other than Palpatine, she would have chosen someone older than her with more experience in the political field on a galactic scale. She would have picked someone like Bail Organa.
In fact, if she was being honest, she heard whispers of other people thinking the same thing. Bail's name was on a lot of people's lips. He was experienced, influential, powerful and well respected. He was just like Palpatine was almost thirteen years ago when he was elected to the position of Chancellor. Padme honestly thought that Bail was perfect for the job.
Bail, on the other hand, didn't appear to agree as whole-heartedly with everyone else. He trusted himself to be fair and concise but when asked if he would vie for the position if given the choice, he said, "No. I don't think that I am what is best for the galaxy. I will do my best for it, but I'm not sure that I am the one that they need."
Padme couldn't disagree more. She felt that Bail and Palpatine were a lot alike in how they handled things and their views seemed pretty similar. Padme felt that he would be perfect for the job. He would have her vote in a heartbeat. Mon seemed to agree as well as some of their other allies. Who was she kidding, almost all, if not all of them, all seem to agree that Bail was ideal for the job, in their eyes.
But Palpatine didn't choose Bail as his candidate. He chose Padme. And stunned Padme couldn't for the life of her figure out why.
And then, suddenly, it was like everyone was staring at her. All of her fellow senators seem to be able to pick her out of a crowd. In the middle of debates, she would kill to have their absolute attention as she does now, but at this exact moment, she wishes that she could sink into the ground and vanish forever. This isn't what she wants, at all.
She can't even think about what this means. She thinks that Palpatine was wrong. She isn't the one that should pick up the mantle and finish what he started.
Padme blinks a few times, turning to look over her shoulder to see Obi-Wan standing in the middle of her living room. Dorme is standing next to him, her face twisted into one of worry. She and Obi-wan share a look before she bows her head slowly, and slips out of the room. She wants to say something, probably ask if Padme was alright or if she needed anything but decided that it was probably best to leave Padme be with her friend for a bit. It may do her some good. Obi-Wan stuffs his hands into his sleeves and tilts his head slightly, staring back at her.
Padme walks off of the terrace overview of the city and back into the living room and around the furniture so that she's standing in front of the Jedi Master. She offers a thin smile.
"Hi, Obi-Wan... I wasn't expecting you to come to visit. I... honestly hadn't known that you had returned to Coruscant," Padme says, trying to be pleasant. She can hear the lack of energy in her own voice but she hopes that even if the older man notices, he won't comment on it. She's not sure she can keep up the pleasant act for long.
"I apologize for not reaching out to you sooner," Obi-Wan says slowly. "I was called back planetside in the wake of the death of the Chancellor. I was helping Anakin down in the lower city, but I was called back to the temple yesterday. I happened to have been in the Senate Chambers when the Chancellor's message was played. I wanted to speak to you in private but didn't want to crowd you. I figured you would be booked for the next week while the Senate tries to decide how to proceed."
"I think everyone is a bit shell shocked and trying to figure out how to do just that," Padme says slowly. "After the message was played many members of my delegations, specifically the larger ones, closed rank around me. My allies became like a shield. My largest being just about two thousand Senators. To be honest had you not been both a Jedi and a friend, you probably wouldn't have been able to get in here."
Obi-Wan nods slowly, rubbing at his beard and mustache. "Yes, I get that feeling. Well, it was fortunate that we were able to talk." He hesitates for a moment, staring into her pretty brown eyes with light blue ones of his own. Finally, he says, "Are you alright, Senator? I know that the Chancellor was a good friend and very important to you."
Padme nods, struggling to swallow the lump in her throat. "Yes. I'm fine. It's hard, but I'm trying to get through this." Padme sighs, rubbing at her forehead before admitting, with a slight pitch to her throat. "I think he was misplaced in choosing me."
For a moment, it looked like Obi-Wan wasn't sure what she was talking about before it seemed to come to him. "Oh, no. No, you're wrong, Senator Amidala. You can't think about things like that. I may not like politicians in the least, nor do I trust them, but I know you. And I trust you too. I know because there is more to you than being a politician. You genuinely care about people. You expend so much time and energy into helping people that even if I thought all politicians were corrupt, I wouldn't have to worry about you as a person."
Padme feels her eyebrows pull together tightly, trying to make sense of what he's saying. "Thank you?"
Obi-Wan waves his hands around, stepping closer to her as he tries to organize his thoughts in a way that she would be able to understand. He takes a moment, and when he's ready, he looks down into her eyes and says, "Listen, Senator, whatever feelings I may have, I honestly think that you would be good for the galaxy. Perhaps I've been listening to Anakin too much but I know that you would be both just and fair. Honest and kind. Strict and strong. The galaxy will need someone like that, especially if we are to both unify and rebuild once this war is over."
Padme knows that Obi-Wan is trying to make her feel better, and in some ways, he is, but she's not sure she's in the sort of emotional slump that kinds words can pull her out of. She feels lost, and hurt and sad. She knows that she's probably still in shock over his initial death, but now with all of this going on, she's not sure she can hold herself together, let alone the entire galaxy.
Seeing the hesitation on her face, Obi-Wan asks softly, "What are you going to do? If they choose not to nominate any other Senators and elect you, what would you do?"
Padme shakes her head, sitting down on the arm of her couch feeling tired and defeated. "I don't know. What if there is someone more suited for the job than me who gets looked past because of this?" She looks up at Obi-Wan, hoping for some guidance from him. Obi-Wan may be only a few years older than her, but she can see by looking into his eyes that he has the soul of an old wise man. Always seemed too, even back when they first met during the occupation of Naboo.
Quietly, Obi-Wan asks, "Do you honestly think there is? Do you honestly think, with all your heart, that if you pass up this moment, you won't regret it for the rest of your life? That you won't second guess every decision the other person makes for the entirety of their term? Can you do that?"
No, honestly, knowing herself, Padme would never stop wondering. She would never stop scrutinizing each and every choice someone else would make, especially when she knew that it should have been her there, had she been stronger. She was confident and sure in all of her decisions as Queen of Naboo. But she didn't dwell on the actions of those that have come after because it isn't her place any longer. Her people offered her a third term, against their own laws, and she denied it because it was time for her to finish ruling Naboo and for it to pass on.
Her reign ended in her last term. She didn't feel it was necessary for it to continue passed what was required. She did everything that she could with the allotted time. It was just how she compartmentalized. She would rule as Chancellor for hopefully the two terms and would step down as soon as it was up. That was the time she was allowed to make her difference and she had to hope that all of her choices were the best that they could be given the situation.
Did she ever wonder what it could have been like if she had stayed on Naboo and continued reigning as Queen? Sure. What if when she finished her third term, they asked for a forth? A fifth? A sixth? What if fifty years went by and she was still ruling as Queen? What if it wasn't because she was oppressive and people thought they had no other choice, but they continued to ask her because they simply thought that she was the best choice?
Nothing flattered Padme more in the world than being asked to stay. Never before had another monarch been asked for a third term since the law was put in place. She spent a lot of time in the remaining months thinking about what she wanted to do. If she was ready to let go or if she was even able to. Padme is such a busy body and a control freak that it's hard to simply let things go. It took her up until the last moment before she decided that Naboo didn't need her to stand at the helm for it to be successful. She spent plenty of time afterward sifting through the candidates for the monarchy to ensure that her legacy lives on in the younger generation.
Could she ignore this if it was offered to her?
Padme, knowing herself, wouldn't be able to turn it down. She can't believe this has happened, but she can't deny that her mind wasn't already racing on how to push forward and help more people. She felt almost powerless as a Senator, but it would be different as a Chancellor. She could do so much more to help people. But that nagging little voice in the back of her head won't let her pretend that it isn't hurting her to think about taking the position from a dead man that she greatly admired. She just didn't know what to do.
"No," Padme finally admits softly. "I don't think that I could ignore this opportunity. But that's only if it were in any other situation. This is just... too much. I don't know what to do."
Obi-Wan considers for a moment, listening calmly to the desperation in her voice, begging for his advice and guidance. Softly, he says, "I can't tell you what to do, Senator, it's not my place. All I can do is hope that I can help you clear up any doubt you may have and hope that it leads you to where you must be. I feel that you are at a crossroads, Padme. Either choice leads to tremendous actions although it isn't clear if one is better than the other in the long run."
"What if I'm not the best person for the job?" Padme asks brokenly, feeling weak and hurt and tired.
"What if you are?" Obi-Wan asks back, staring into her eyes calmly.
Padme stares back at him for a long time, trying to organize her thoughts. "What will happen to the galaxy if I become Chancellor?" Padme asks, softly, thinking about how emotional she is right now. How hurt she is. How unsure she is about how to proceed. She won't shut down forever, she knows this, but it's still hard to swallow everything going on. And the galaxy needs someone who can stand and fight for it now. It can't afford to wait until tomorrow.
"What will happen to the galaxy if you don't?" Obi-Wan asks, folding his hands neatly in front of him. Padme sighs, staring back at him with exasperated eyes forcing him to add, "I can't tell you what to do, Padme. What I can tell you is this; I'm observant by nature. I listen to people around me all the time and people love you. People look to you as a shining example of what a Senator should be. Your popularity is through the roof and people think that you are someone to look up to. Your strength comes from your willingness to help people for the sake of helping people. It's a rare kindness that can't be taught. You have the skills and even if it is for a single term and nothing more, I think that you will do great things for the people. Which in the end, should be what matters, right?"
Padme nods slowly, letting out a little sigh. "I know... I just..." she reaches up and rubs at the back of her head. "I suppose all I would be asked to do - if I am chosen for this - would be to finish Chancellor Palpatine's term and after that, we can hold elections again."
Obi-Wan nods. "Very true. Help us through to the end of the war, and once it is and you return Executive Power to the Senate, then your obligation is over. From there, you can either be elected for your official first term, or you can continue your life as a Senator or whatever else catches your fancy." He shrugs his shoulders. "I suppose that's up to you to decide."
Padme considers for a long time, not having thought about it that way. Once the recess that they are in is over, the Senate will decide whether they want to nominate anyone else for the run or hand the office over to Padme for the time being and then they can get to work. This was a lot to digest and they were given a three-hour recess, but Padme feels like a lifetime has passed from when she heard that Palpatine chose her and she left the Senate Chambers to go to her apartment to try and decompress.
"I suppose I'll have to really think about it," Padme admits, finally pulling herself together again.
Obi-Wan nods. "Well, I wish you the best, Senator. Know that the Jedi are on your side in whatever you decide." That was a relief to hear, and it must have shown on her face because Obi-Wan offers her a small smile. "I'm sorry to run off, but I must be getting back. Anakin is still in the lower city of Coruscant hunting for Ventress and I must report back to the Council and then make my way back down there to help him."
Padme shakes her head, pushing herself off the arm of the couch to her feet. "No, please don't let me keep you. Thank you for stopping by to talk with me, Obi-Wan, I do appreciate it. And... keep an eye out for Anakin and for yourself. Stay safe, please."
"We will be careful, Senator. Take care." With that, he bows his head respectfully before turning and leaving.
As Obi-Wan is leaving Dorme is poking her head back in. She tips her head to the Jedi Master as he walks back before stepping into the room and turning her own dark eyes toward the young Senator. "My lady? A few Senators are here to speak with you. Of which, Senators Organa and Mothma are among them. Would you like for me to let them in?"
Padme nods, standing up and smoothing her dress out and hold her head high. "Yes, Dorme, please. Let them in."
"Once everyone finishes casting their vote, I will be able to announce the next Chancellor of our great Republic," Mas Amedda says, addressing the entirety of the Senate. He pauses for a second before continuing, "I would like to take a moment before I announce our new Chancellor so that we may remember Chancellor Sheev Palpatine. He was a great man. The shoes he left behind will be hard to fill but I am confident that this situation will make us all stronger. Chancellor Palpatine would want us to be."
Padme, having been exempt from voting as she is one of the candidates, has to lower her head for a moment to catch her breath. She, as well as Bail and the other Senator that were nominated, are all set aside on a platform connected to Mas Amedda's so that whichever one is elected, they will be able to immediately address the Senate, and the galaxy. Padme's pretty dark eyes find the cameras floating around the room, broadcasting this meeting all across the galaxy for everyone to watch, live.
Padme forces herself to ignore the apprehension twisting in her gut. She promised herself before she came back from recess that she would be strong. She would try and remember what is the most important part of this situation; she can still do good for people. She can look past her own pain and fears to help others. That was one of her greatest skills. She was able to easily hone in on problems around her and forget about what was going on inside her.
Anakin always hated when she did that, but it was always so much easier to worry about everyone else than worry about what was going on in her heart and mind. She just didn't like to deal with it. Not when the problem lies with her. Or maybe that is just a problem all on its own. Who knows?
In the fleeting moments, while everyone voted, Padme's eyes find that of Bail. Before coming here, he stayed behind once everyone else left her apartment and made their way back to the Senatorial Chambers so that the two of them could talk privately. The gentle, more compassionate side of Padme always seemed to be so in sync with Bail They saw the galaxy much the same way. They saw it as their sole duty to do what is right for their people and do good by everyone else. They believed that diplomacy should always be the first option and that mercy should always be kept in mind, regardless of the situation.
Mon is a very close friend to Padme, and the more militant side of Padme falls in line perfectly with Mon but there was just something about Padme's bond to Bail that made her feel like she could tell him anything. She could tell him everything and he wouldn't judge her or think less of her. He was like an older brother figure that always seemed to not only have her back but always have her best intentions in mind.
Losing Palpatine was a shock for all of them and while she tried not to make it seem like she was milking it for whatever it was worth, she knew that she could be vulnerable and weak to Bail. He would always understand and be compassionate when she desperately needed it.
Bail asked her how she was and if there was anything that he could do for her, the usual stuff. Naturally, she informed him that she would be okay and that she was just trying to wrap her mind around what happened and would eventually be back to normal. He seemed to accept that, nodding to both of them but then he put his hands on her shoulders, looked her dead in the eye and told her that all they could do was keep pushing on. They were alive and strong and could keep moving forward. Those that were lost of the course of this war didn't deserve to be forgotten, but they wouldn't want progress towards a better future to be halted either.
"So long as we are alive, we owe it to those that aren't to justify our right to live on. We can move forward toward another day so we should make the best of it and ensure, to the best of our abilities that others do the same," Bail had said, offering her a thin smile before squeezing her shoulders tightly, reassuringly, and then pulling away.
Padme didn't know what to say, but if she ended up not becoming Chancellor, she would vote for Bail in a heartbeat. Padme thinks that he will always be near and dear in her heart.
Bail offers her a thin smile, reaching out to take her hand and giving it a squeeze. No matter what, they were in this together. They seemed to always be the other's biggest supporter. Padme can't see that changing any time soon. Especially is Padme is voted as Chancellor of the Republic, she knew exactly who she was going to elect as her Vice-Chancellor. But he didn't have to know that yet. Although he may already suspect it. Padme values his opinion and his guidance too much not to give the position to him.
"And the vote is in," Mas Amedda says, pulling Padme from her thoughts, "and it is clear, the next Chancellor of the Republic and take up the mantle Sheev Palpatine has left behind will be none other than the Senator of Naboo Padme Amidala."
The applause is almost immediate. Padme had to take a moment to remember how to breathe. She still wanted to run away and bury her head in the sand, but she promised herself that she was going to face this and make the best of it, however, she could. She wasn't going to let this opportunity go to waste and she wasn't going to let Palpatine down now that he was no longer with them to offer his support and guidance. She was going to do her best and hope that he would approve.
Bail pulls his hand away so that he could stand and clap alongside the rest in the Senate. Padme's sure not everyone is happy and cheering, but Padme can't see anyone who isn't at least clapping respectfully, even if she wasn't their first choice.
The cameras all seem to zoom right into her face and Padme can feel her muscles along her forehead and in the corners of her mouth pull taught and she has to go back in time to her training as Queen. The mask that the Queen always wore. The white make-up was part of it, to help keep them safe should they need to switch places with a body double, but it also was to help them remember to keep a straight, stoic face, no matter what was happening around them or what was being said. They couldn't forget their composure.
She couldn't forget her composure.
Remembering that feeling only took a moment and easily enough the mask of the Noobian Queen was over her face as Padme forced all of her emotions swirling around inside of her like an angry maelstrom away for passive stoicism, she stood up slowly and gracefully. She walked up to Mas Amedda as he offered applause that seemed genuine and stepped up to face the Senate.
Padme waits a moment for everyone to quiet down, realizing she hadn't even thought about what to say. There was no speech planned and no one wanted flowery sentiments. So Padme spoke with her heart, but with the mask of the Queen in place.
"Thank you, everyone. I would like to say that this moment is a joyous and glorious one, but it isn't. This moment rides on the back of one of great loss and tragedy," Padme says, her voice sounding strong but stoic. Her queen voice. "With Chancellor Palpatine gone someone must rule the Republic, especially in this time of war. We need to remain steady and keep pushing onward. We cannot get back those that we lost, but we can still band together and make the galaxy a better place for those that are still here. Even with the tough decisions ahead that will test our faith, our conviction, our dedication, and our hearts, we must hold strong and push onward. There can be peace in the galaxy. And there will. The first step is now, here in this room. I swear to all of you, my fellow Senators, and to you," Padme turns her sharp brown eyes to the nearest camera as it zooms in just a touch closer, "the great and wonderful people of the galaxy, and yes, I mean all of you. Republic, Separatists and Neutrals. We all have the right to live in a galaxy of peace. And that all starts now."