there is a story among the Naboo, about a girl who went down to the shore and saw a man drowning, there in the deep water. She was a great swimmer (children of Naboo are) and so she shed her clothing and came out to him with strong, sure strokes. Yet he was desperate and flailing and would not heed her, and in his panic he dragged her down with him, into the dark water.
Her lungs were not so deep as his. She drowned.
this is a lesson, the mothers of Naboo tell their children. sometimes, to be strong and good-hearted is not enough to save yourself.
No one on Naboo seems to remember the name of the girl who went down to the shore. Girls in tales don’t need names.
(this story is different among the gungans. They say: there was a girl, and as she sank down into the darkness and the mud, she opened her eyes and breathed in, and she became a gungan, for nothing is made and nothing is destroyed, and all water that was once snow comes around again in rain.
Death is a rare thing, the gungans say. The rest is just a change of states.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the next Star Wars movie lately, and about the astronomical (ha) hopes I have pinned on it to be even better than the last. I went looking for fics to preemptively fill the hole in my heart, but in the end I discovered one that, while excellent, doesn’t really speculate about the future of the sequel trilogy at all. (The AO3 gods are just like that sometimes.) While those immortal dead doesn’t offer any great ideas about what might happen next, it does offer a bittersweet perspective into what has already happened: namely, the passing of Padmé Amidala and its effect on the people in whose lives she would have otherwise been.
While the prequel trilogy remains one of the great travesties of our time, there’s no denying that so many aspects of it had potential for excellence. One of these aspects is, of course, badass woke teenage Queen-turned-Senator Padmé Amidala, who could defend liberty in the Senate, hold her own in a gunfight, and carry on a torrid love affair in secret, all while serving lewks like you wouldn’t believe. Padmé’s tragic end, dying from ~sadness~ after giving birth to the twins, is a downright disgrace, but fanfic (and a tendency toward ghosts in this particular canon’s universe) allows that wrong to be somewhat righted.
those immortal dead offers a look at the lasting effect Padmé’s life had on the galaxy, whether that’s through a ghostly visit to a grandson to calm his night terrors, or through a pre-Imperial politics class in which Poe Dameron waxes rhapsodic about the anonymously penned Naberrie Papers (Padmé’s parents were from House Naberrie). One of the most fascinating things about the story is that while it touches on a variety of characters from the prequel to the original to the sequel trilogies, it never actually mentions Padmé’s name in the story. The effect of this is to reinforce the idea that Padmé’s ghost is present here, a presence we can feel but don’t have a name for, while also making us desperate to reach into the story and cry out to the characters: “Her name was Padmé; she was an inspiration and a hero.”
those immortal dead is complete at a brief 2,100 words, and while it’s a bittersweet morsel, it’s so worth the read. You can find it here at the AO3.
Hear more from Lady Saika on Character Reveal, the podcast she cohosts with BrothaDom!