Sabe' watched her former monarch and current best friend work herself to exhaustion, knowing and empathizing with the reasons behind it. At times side by side, but frequently independently, the two ministered to those who had lost as much as the Naboo. Rarely did Anakin contact Amidala and only through survivors' tales and Obi-Wan's communique's with Sabe' did any information leak through.
"He's made himself quite a hero and an asset in bringing defeat to the Mandalorians closer," Obi-Wan told the former handmaiden in one of his short messages. "I can only hope this war ends soon, for I fear the Republic may never recover."
The Jedi Knight paused, a rueful smile flitting across his holograph's face. Then, he spoke more quietly.
"I miss you, Sabe'... More than I can say. Perhaps after this is over... " He stopped, as if aware he could make no promises. "Tell Queen Amidala I will continue to keep an eye on Anakin and that we will return to Alderaan as soon as we can."
The message ended abruptly, leaving Sabe' staring at the space where the tiny image had flickered. She didn't know what to tell Amidala. The Queen's sadness worried her, as did her tightly wound state. Esme' had attempted to stop Amidala from spending so much time in the refugee camps, insisting she needed her rest as the pregnancy progressed. Amidala had grown heavy with the child, yet she continued to work twelve hours and more each day.
A recent outbreak of Dafier influenza concerned Esme' even more, driving her to seek out Sabe' to see if she had any more influence in getting Amidala to slow down. Sabe' told Esme' she would do what she could. She went to Amidala, voicing this newest threat, only to be greeted with a wave of Amidala's hand.
"Begin searching for a vaccine. I'll stay away from the worst of it, but I refuse to stop helping these people."
"Stop calling me that, Sabe'. You and I both know it's an empty title." A haunted look passed over Amidala's face. "Indeed, I'm not even certain I can call myself Anakin's wife any longer."
"What?" For a moment, Sabe' thought Amidala would relax her barriers and speak of her deepest personal fears. The moment passed and the shutters closed even tighter.
"Never mind. Tell Esm頴o stop worrying so much." She straightened and turned away. "Now, I must go. I promised to see a woman in the Anoat camp this afternoon."
Sabe' watched her leave, tempted to follow her. As if sensing her friend's intentions, Amidala turned and shook her head. Reluctantly, Sabe' let her go, for Obi-Wan's message chose that moment to arrive.
Amidala fled to the refugee camp, praying Sabe' wouldn't go against her wishes and come after her. She couldn't bear her friend's concern another moment. The child inside her kicked in protest, as though sensing her distress. Why hadn't Anakin at least written a short message? It almost seemed as though he had forgotten her and the life they had created together with such love.
Tears streamed down her face unheeded as she rushed through the cool winter afternoon. Once she reached her destination, she stopped to compose herself. These poor people didn't need to see her misery for they had enough of their own. She pasted a wan smile on her face and stepped through the door.
The sight that greeted her wiped the attempt from her lips. Family members lay side by side, their bodies covered with terribly discolored splotches. Amidala bit back a cry, beginning to back from the cramped room. The woman made a feeble gesture, her lips barely moving. Against her better judgment, Amidala leaned closer to hear the whispered words.
"Jedi... died... saving us... Told us to... beware..." The dying Anoat woman coughed, her eyes glittering in the dim light. "The scum used bio weapons... Disease... Warn the others... "
The words took the last of her strength and she sagged back against the floor, life fading from her eyes. With a shudder, Amidala spun and hurried back to the palace. She had to speak to Esme' and tell her of the threat. They'd need samples from the unfortunate family to determine what the Mandalorians used. Somehow she doubted it would prove such an easy thing to treat as Dafier influenza.
"Why, oh, why did you go in there?" Esme' demanded. "You've put yourself and your child at risk."
"I didn't think--"
"You're right. You didn't think!" The healer nearly shouted at her and Amidala winced, realizing Esme 's worry revolved around what she considered an unnecessary exposure.
"I'm sorry," she managed.
Esme' sighed, then waved her toward one of the examination tables. "Let me take some samples. Then I'll send out a team in biohazard suits to take samples and quarantine the area."
"Do you think I've endangered the baby?"
"Hard to say. Just wish I knew what we're dealing with here," Esme' muttered as she began giving Amidala a thorough physical.
"Didn't we just do this last week?" Amidala protested.
"Hmpf!" was her only reply as the healer continued to poke and prod Amidala's body. Once Esme' finished her exam, she ordered Amidala to her quarters to rest and refused to listen to any further protestations that she was fine.
Once she reached her rooms, she collapsed on her bed and the ramifications of her actions set in. She caressed her belly, feeling tiny feet and hands move under her skin.
"Sorry, little one. I've been too wrapped up in my own troubles to consider that I might hurt you. So sorry..." Her tears returned. "Oh, Ani... Where are you? Why haven't you contacted me?"
The pains began a few hours later, awaking her from a deep sleep. She clutched her abdomen desperately. "No, no! It's too soon."
She pulled herself up and staggered toward the door, a hot gush of liquid pouring from her as she reached it. A cry of anguish tore from her and as she sank to her knees, she dimly sensed others hurrying toward her.