It wasn’t supposed to end like this.
Sabé repeats the words in her head like a mantra, like it’s the only thing pushing her forward. It’s like she’s only moving her feet out of spite. The heavy mourning dress she wears weighs her down and her neck hurts from bowing her head, but she barely registers it. Years of training allows her to not betray any of the emotions swirling like a tornado in her chest, and for once, she is grateful for that. She keeps her face passive, neutral, despite no one looking at her. Everyone’s eyes – several thousands of eyes – only see the open casket in front of her.
Sabé walks closely behind Sola and her daughters. She feels out of place here, like she doesn’t deserve to walk with them – as if she doesn’t deserve to be this close to Padmé.
Sabé’s first priority had always been to keep her alive, and she’d failed.
Jobal had grabbed her arm right before the funeral procession was about to start moving, touched Sabé’s cheek with a soft hand and had told her, “You’re family. You’ll walk with us at the front – that’s what Padmé would’ve wanted.”
The older woman’s eyes had been red-rimmed and her face had been more lined than the last time Sabé had seen her. Jobal had looked so broken yet so much like Padmé that Sabé hadn’t been able to say no.
It‘s ironic, really. they both see the other as a substitute for the person laying in the casket before them — Jobal sees her daughter’s mirror image in Sabé, who in turn sees her best friend in the older woman. Padmé would’ve laughed at them.
Sabé had failed protect Padmé, the one purpose she had in this world; yet she finds a strange comfort in walking behind the Naberries — she can protect them that way. She might’ve failed their daughter, but she will make up for it, at least a little bit, by making sure that they’re safe. Sabé knows it’s a stupid idea, but she clings to the thought anyway. it’s the only thing that keeps her from running away from all of this.
The procession reaches the royal crypt after what feels like an eternity. Only the immediate family and the queen are allowed inside – the thousands of other mourners remain on the street. Sabé prepares to shrink back into the crowd and let the family have their privacy when Jobal’s hand once again grabs her arm in a surprisingly strong grip and tugs her along. Sabé follows her as if in trance, the sound from the crowd behind her fading into white noise.
The family gathers around the open casket — the impulse to reach out and touch Padmé’s cheek is overwhelmingly strong. She looks like she’s sleeping and for a second, Sabé isn’t in the crypt, surrounded by Padmé’s family, but—
( in the sleeping quarters of the royal palace. It’s the first month of training and the handmaidens have come up with the brilliant plan to sneak into each other’s rooms and wake up each other to go on nightly adventures. Sabé always woke Padmé up with a pat on the cheek. They were discovered and lectured by Captain Panaka every time and Sabé would always feel guilty afterwards, but Padmé always told her that it had been harmless and therefore nothing to worry about and Padmé was always right )
—Sabé blinks, and she’s back in the crypt. Her eyes can’t tear themselves from Padmé’s still face – she has always known Padmé better than she knows herself, but that is of no use now – she stares and stares and stares, but there‘s nothing to read in her face. Not even an elegant eyebrow rising ever so slightly or the quirk of her lips. Not the tap of a manicured finger against her leg.
Padmé is still. cold. Gone.
The grief trashes in Sabé’s chest like a rabid animal and it is getting increasingly difficult to breathe. The room is suddenly too small. She feels as though she is suffocating.
Jobal is rubbing comforting circles on her back and it feels so wrong – that she is the one standing here barely holding herself together while Padmé’s mother, who’s just lost her youngest daughter, is calming her down.
Sabé hates herself for being so weak, but her mind is screaming Padmé, Padmé, Padmé—
Their hearts used to beat together, one breath in two bodies. Now, Padmé is dead and cold, as is the child she was carrying, and Sabé is all alone, missing half her soul.
It wasn’t supposed to end like this, she says to herself, silent enough that no one except herself can hear — no, she prays, prays to whatever deities might listen, that Padmé can hear her wherever her soul has flown.
I should’ve protected you, I should’ve— her throat closes up, but she still has one thing left to say — the most important thing:
I truly, deeply loved you. I always have and always will.
Sabé finally lets the tears fall down her cheeks.