Padmé Amidala has to keep her feet in different worlds for almost as long as we see her on screen in Star Wars. She’s a queen and she’s Padmé. Then she’s a senator and she’s still Padmé. Plus she has a secret husband who should not be her husband according to Jedi rules. It’s a lot to balance. E.K. Johnston’s books about the formidable Padmé have brought rich detail to the character’s life, as well as to the lives of her equally formidable handmaidens. We have an exclusive excerpt from the upcoming third Padmé book, Star Wars: Queen’s Hope, that puts Padmé and Sabé’s friendship in the spotlight.
Star Wars: Queen’s Hope takes place after Anakin and Padmé’s secret wedding at the end of Attack of the Clones. So, Padmé already has a couple big things to juggle. But she has to take on a secret mission that necessitates Sabé taking her place on Coruscant as Senator Amidala. And that’s an entirely different situation than one of the handmaidens stepping in for Padmé when she was queen. Senator Amidala does not have the same makeup and elaborate outfits as Queen Amidala. Sabé will step into the world of galactic politics on another level beyond Naboo, and she may not be ready.
In the below excerpt from Star Wars: Queen’s Hope, Padmé asks Sabé for perhaps the biggest favor of all time? Reading this gives me nervous feelings.
Sabé took her empty plate and Tonra’s and went into the kitchen to wash them. Before, a call from Padmé would have sent her running for the holoprojector, eager to hear what her friend wanted her to do. But something had changed. After Geonosis, Padmé had been uncharacteristically reticent, hiding everything even from Sabé. She’d disappeared to the lake house on Naboo and hadn’t contacted anyone for weeks. And yes, Sabé herself wasn’t always easy to track down, but Padmé was a senator. If it was important, she found a way. And now she needed Sabé again, and Sabé was alarmed to find she was a little bit resentful. What was happening to them?
When everything was clean, she went to the holoprojector and turned it on. She had no idea what time it was on Coruscant, and she wasn’t sure how long she’d have to wait for Padmé to pick up, but someone would be on the other end of the line, and they’d tell her what to expect.
“Sabé!” To her surprise, Padmé’s face appeared in front of her almost immediately. The senator looked good, clearly having recovered from whatever happened to her in the droid foundry, and her tone was normal. “Oh, I’m so glad to see you. I’ve missed you so much.”
“I’ve missed you, too,” Sabé said. And it was true. Missing Padmé was like missing the sun, and she was currently on a planet with two of them.
“How is Tatooine?” Padmé asked.
“Hot, dry, and dusty,” Sabé told her. “But we’re making real progress. The locals, the ones I care about, are starting to trust us. We’ve already made a few offworld runs for them.”
“That’s good.” Padmé bit her lip. She was definitely going to ask Sabé to leave the planet.
“Tonra suggested that it fits our cover if I disappear on a longer mission,” Sabé said. Padmé’s relief was immediate. “He’ll keep the ship, but I can make it to Coruscant from the transport hub here. When we’re done, I can return.”
“I’ll send Captain Mariek for you,” Padmé offered, happy to make everything as easy as she could. “That will make your traveling a bit easier, and I won’t worry about you the whole time.”
“What do you need me to do?” Sabé asked. She leaned back in her chair, almost relaxed at how familiar this was.
“This one’s complicated,” Padmé said. “There’s a mission my faction in the Senate is running, and it has to be me who goes. Only, I can’t disappear from the Senate, because people will notice. I need you to come to Coruscant and be Senator Amidala.”
All thoughts of relaxation fled. Senator Amidala was so different. There was no makeup to hide behind, no bulky dresses to use as a physical barrier. This wouldn’t be a normal switch. She’d have to mimic Padmé on the floor of the Galactic Senate.
“Who knows?” Sabé asked.
“Senator Organa,” Padmé said. It wasn’t a surprise. He had seen through their disguise early on but had never told anyone about it. Sabé rather liked him. “And Mon Mothma.”
That was a very short list, and the Chancellor wasn’t on it. “This is going to be challenging,” Sabé said.
“On the bright side, I’ve just brought on two new handmaidens,” Padmé said. Her voice shuddered a bit referring to the tragedy as a bright side. “You can switch out with one of them easily enough to relearn your way around the Senate, and then you and I can switch places for a couple of days before I leave.”
Sabé was already mentally packing her trunk.
“I’ll meet Mariek on the transport hub tomorrow, if she can make it,” she said.
“I’ll make the arrangements,” Padmé told her. She hesitated, then smiled. “I am so glad we’ll get to see each other again for a bit.”
“So am I,” said Sabé. It was the truth. “It’ll be just like old times. I’d better go pack.”
Padmé had been fully intending to tell Sabé the whole story, everything from seeing Anakin again through the time at the Lars homestead and their captivity on Geonosis, including the wedding. But then Sabé had said “just like old times,” and her resolve had crumbled.
Anakin hadn’t been able to see her when he’d returned to Coruscant. He’d only been on the planet long enough to see the Chancellor, and to get his next assignment before he and Obi-Wan shipped out to the front. They hadn’t yet set up a way to communicate surreptitiously, and Padmé had no reason to contact him through official channels. She knew that sort of thing was to be expected; it was why they had traveled separately back from the lake house, but it still stung. She accepted that he would have a job to do, just as she would, but she hadn’t expected reality to throw it all in her face quite so quickly. When she had a moment, she would ask C-3PO if there was a way he could securely link to R2-D2.
This time with Sabé was exactly what she needed. She would use it to find her way forward, balancing the old with the new. It would be like old times. They would learn to be each other’s mirror again, something they hadn’t done in years and had never tried on this scale. They would spend time together and it would be easy and fun, and they would have their work to keep them busy. When they had to separate for Padmé to go on the mission, she would know that Sabé would be waiting for her when she came back.
When Sabé arrived, Padmé greeted her with a smile. She introduced her to Ellé and Moteé, and they all sat down with Dormé, Typho, Mariek, and the other guards for the Naboo-style dinner Padmé had planned to welcome Sabé back. There were brightly colored stuffed peppers and five-blossom bread, and berries from the Lake Country soaked in rum custard. As she watched her friends eat, laughing and talking with one another, Padmé was happy.
She wished Anakin were here. That was the only thing that kept the night from being perfect. She missed him, and not even Sabé could make her feel better. It was strange, to love two people so much, so differently. She didn’t quite understand it, and she wasn’t sure how to make it work.
Someday, she would figure out how to put both halves of her life together. Someday, she would make the political and the personal more cohesive. Someday, she wouldn’t keep them so divided. Someday, Anakin would sit at this table, too. There was a war on, and they were always in danger from that, but there was no reason not to plan for an optimistic future, where every person she had brought into her life was just as happy as everyone else.
Star Wars: Queen’s Hope is out on April 5, 2022. You can place a pre-order now.
Amy Ratcliffe is the Managing Editor for Nerdist and the author of A Kid’s Guide to Fandom, available now. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.